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Day of play through May
  |  First Published: May 2013



With the cooler weather well and truly upon us, anglers will be noticing a change in the prominent species throughout Moreton Bay and nearby waters. Species increasing in regularity will include mulloway, tailor, snapper, longtail tuna, squid and numerous others.

There will still be plenty of other species to target as well with a long list on offer, including threadfin salmon, flathead, sweetlip, cod, trevally, tarpon, whiting, cobia, bream, school mackerel and bonito. Cooler conditions will produce some hot fishing action for those out on Moreton Bay and its filtering waterways throughout May.

LONGTAIL TUNA

This species is one of the prized pelagics found within Moreton Bay. Although various numbers can be found within Moreton Bay year round, better concentrations make their way in a southerly migration along the coast as the water temperatures cool. They feed on the numerous bait schools, which can often be found very close to shore. As such the longtails will feed in close along the beaches at times, often on the same bait schools being harassed by tailor.

You can generally track their transit along the coast with the first solid reports often coming from the Fraser Island area, then the Sunshine Coast and the front of Bribie Island and then finally throughout Moreton Bay; often as far south as the southern bay islands of Coochiemudlo, Macleay and Russell. Sometimes they trickle into the bay in small numbers and at other times en masse.

Surface feeding schools can often be visible from a fair distance away, however approaching these schools can often be fairly difficult. Even when you do get a cast within the fray it is often met with refusal, which can be fairly frustrating.

In this situation you have three options: try smaller profiles; experiment with different offerings; or give up. Most keen anglers will go through their tackle box in an attempt to find the offering that will work at that particular time. Often at the start of winter the baitfish species will be small, often miniscule, therefore down grading the size of your offering may pay dividends.

However, using small lures poses a problem. Small offerings generally lack the weight to be cast decent distances. With tuna feeding on baitfish that are sometimes less than 2cm in length, finding a chrome slice, soft plastic or other offering that can be cast 30m+ on 6-10kg line can be a tough ask. Lighter outfits offer better potential for delivering the offering yet less ability to fight and land the hooked longtail!

Fly fishers often have the advantage in this situation as they can deliver weightless offerings over this distance. This is because the weight required for casting is in the fly line. The fly just happens to be attached to the end. Most anglers opt for #9 to #12 weight outfits for targeting longtail tuna.

If you want to learn more about targeting longtails on fly then meet like-minded anglers at the Bribie Island Sport Fishing Club’s Longtail Tuna Fly Fishing Challenge to be held on the weekend of 25-26 May. It is always a fun weekend with the main emphasis being on the anglers challenging the tuna although there is some awesome trophies on offer in various categories. Contact Jeff Sorrel on (07) 3284 2632 or Peter Griffiths on (07) 3265 2926 for further information.

When smaller profiles won’t work try something totally different and generally much larger than the bait on which they are feeding, as this will sometimes produce the goods. The theory here is that the tuna may be bored with constantly eating the same food items and will pounce on something a little different just for a bit of a palatial change. Anglers commonly try poppers, jerk shad soft plastics (Z-Man 5” bubblegum StreakZ are popular), larger metal slugs and slices, stickbaits, and numerous other plastics, blades and even trolled minnow lures. It is often just a case of trying different offerings until you get their interest.

Or you can crack a tantrum, give up and go home to play fishing games on the Wii. However, persistence will generally produce the goods and just trying is a character building experience.

TAILOR

If the 2011 season is anything to go by, then the best tailor numbers will again be in the estuaries during the 2013 season. This is due to the increased baitfish numbers within the discoloured and nutrient-rich waters of the estuaries and rivers which attracts the tailor’s focus.

The beaches only produced limited numbers after the floods of 2011 so this may again be the case this year however only time will tell.

Anglers fishing with baits and lures will encounter tailor in all parts of the estuaries as they will venture anywhere there are prawns and baitfish. Casting around lighted areas within the rivers at night is almost a sure fire way to get connected. I predominately use prawn or baitfish profiled plastics that are cast upcurrent and hopped or slowly rolled back in. It pays to alter your speed at times as this will sometimes solicit a strike.

Anglers trolling lures along rock walls or the edges of sand and mud banks are also highly likely to encounter a few tailor, as will those floating out baits, especially whole pilchards, live offerings and fillet baits. Often tailor can be seen smashing bait on the surface, particually in areas with high current flow or around lighted areas at night, such as waterside restaurants, bridges and jetties in the canals, Brisbane River, Pumicestone Passage and harbours.

The average fish we caught in the Brisbane River during the 2013 season were around 45cm but specimens to over 60cm were encountered, which are quality fish for the beach or any other waters.

MULLOWAY

Mulloway numbers should be awesome this winter with plenty of decent sized specimens to be caught. These can be found in pretty much the same areas as tailor but can also be taken around prominent reefs and wrecks throughout the bay and in deeper sections of the river, especially along ledges and bottom contours.

They generally respond well to a broad array of lures and baits and if you can locate them you will catch them. I predominately target mulloway with plastic shad profiles but jerk shads, prawn profiles and plenty of other offerings will work well including vibration baits and blades. Bait fishing with live baits (mullet, herring, large prawns, gar, pike etc) and dead baits (pilchards, fillet baits, prawns, squid etc) will generally produce the goods. Live offerings are much more likely to attract those trophy specimens over 10kg, especially when using larger mullet.

Good numbers of mulloway will be caught in the Brisbane River, Logan River and most other larger systems throughout Southern Queensland as well as the shallow offshore reefs. Often once you catch one you will catch several subsequent mulloway as the smaller specimens commonly school.

With the minimum size limit being 75cm it is often a case of catching and releasing numerous juveniles before scoring a keeper, if you wish to take one or two for the table. Treat the undersized fish with care and respect and release as soon as possible because they could be trophy specimens within a few years.

SQUID

Squid numbers should be increasing throughout May and how prominent they will be throughout the bay island shallows will probably depend on water quality.

Cephalods generally prefer crystal clear water flowing over and around structure such as reef, rubble, rock and weed beds. Anglers can often achieve good catches of quality specimens from shore-based locations such as Cleveland, Wellington Point, Victoria Point, Wynnum, Manly, Sandgate and Scarborough foreshore.

The usual egi (prawn profiled squid jig) will work well. I generally opt for a fairly natural colour in a 1.8 to 2.5 size but other anglers have proven plenty of colours and sizes will work. I have found that glow-in-the-dark finishes do not work that well around heavily lit or heavily squidded areas, mainly only in darkened locations.

Tiger squid are most common close to shore however arrows and other species can also be encountered. One decent sized tiger squid will be a meal for one person, especially when cut into rings and crumbed.

Another great way to eat them is to simply sear large strips on the BBQ, dip in a dressing made from olive oil, crushed garlic, soy and lime juice and then consumed.

Often squid can be spotlighted in the shallows at night before you cast to them. Quality LED head torches are a must for this pursuit. A decent selection of egi and a light spin rod will complete your arsenal however specific egi rods are available for those who get serious.

In some areas you may need a landing net to secure your prize. These succulent cephalods will increase in prominence over the coming months and should be around in decent numbers until at least August.

SNAPPER

The fishing around the bay islands will be excellent throughout May with the main species encountered being snapper. The slightly discoloured water will mean they will feed in fairly shallow water at times, especially early morning and late afternoon.

Anglers will encounter plenty of fish between the minimum size of 35cm and 50cm but larger specimens to over 90cm will also be taken. Under the current regulations anglers are only allowed one snapper over 70cm in their total bag limit of four fish.

Anglers will find that soft plastics, vibration baits, blades and minnow lures will take snapper in these bay island margins, the artificial reefs and bay wrecks. Apart from casting plastics, mainly Gulp 5” Jerk Shads and Z-Man 5”StreakZ and MinnowZ, to catch snapper in the 5-10m zone around Mud Island, I have recently been trolling minnow lures as well. Most baitfish profiled deep divers will work well with my favourite at present being the Yozuri Hardcore 90SP, which will handle various troll speeds and seems to walk over structure well.

However, there is a huge array of lures that will produce when trolled in these zones and apart from snapper you are likely to score a tailor, school mackerel, sweetlip or Moses perch. Most baits will produce also with presentation being the key to the better quality and often wily specimens.

Drifting your baits with the current is often a good ploy when the current is running hard as this will give a more realistic presentation. Keep offerings as lightly weighted as possible for the relevant conditions as this will increase your bite rate and decrease likelihood of snagging.

For my plastics I generally find that 1/6oz to 1/4oz jigheads will suffice around the bay islands but I generally step up to a 3/8oz head for the artificial reefs (Harry Atkinson and Curtain). The various wrecks, (houseboat at Peel, Kaptajn Nelson, Bulldozer etc.) can often hold some excellent specimens and are best fished on the drift or by anchoring well upcurrent and drifting your baits back into the zone.

The Brisbane River also produces some respectable snapper with the dredge holes adjacent to the retaining wall and Claras Rocks being just two of the better areas. There are plenty of snapper to a little under 50cm encountered and the occasional larger specimen.

Often you will be surprised where snapper turn up with catches occurring well up the rivers and in the canals and harbours at times.

CONCLUSION

Well these are just a few of the species that will be increasing in prominence over the coming month or so. There will be plenty of other species on offer with a good array to be encountered throughout the rivers, creeks, estuaries and canals.

Decent numbers of prawns and some quality crabs will also be around for those who try. To be honest it is highly possible to score a seafood feast if you put in the effort.

There are plenty of possibilities for those venturing out during May so keep your options open and you should be rewarded with a tasty feed or some bragging rights at the end of the day. Enjoy your day of play in the Moreton Bay area throughout May.

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