Deep Tempest lures anglers
  |  First Published: May 2013

May is shaping up as another wet and windy month if the pattern of last year repeats itself, however there are plenty of fish to be had, especially at Deep Tempest. There has been a very good run of snapper between 1-3kg on the northern end of the rock and up on top.

Larger snapper are also stacked up on the deeper wrecks south and east of Tempest so I would be heading south of the Cape for a look. With the amount of southerly wind and swell we have experienced, this also allows for a smoother and quicker trip home.

Up at Wide Caloundra the shallower waters in 58-65m have produced some outstanding Moses perch up to 50cm and really solid parrot. May is usually the pick of the months for pearl perch in size and numbers but not in the shallows this year.

Pearl perch have tended to be on the wrong side of legal, as have the hordes of hungry 30cm snapper that have invaded the area. Based upon last year’s returns, the bigger snapper will eventually run through this area late May and, in particularly the 60m line in the northern areas of Wide Caloundra, which produced for us some crackers and plenty of them on the humble paternoster and a lightly weighted floated pillie.

I’m expecting big things from the plastics during this year’s run and will be floating out a lightly weighted jerk shad in pearl white lumo 7”, weight will depend upon conditions and current. Try a drift or two to see what the floaters and paternosters are doing with the current flow and weight it to drift down slowly through the depths to tempt those fish feeding up off the bottom.

The better pearlies are further out in waters over 72m and in the central areas of Wide Caloundra. This means longer runs and a bumpy trip home if you’re heading out from Scarborough or Spinnaker Sound. A real upside is the number of very large pearl perch being caught. Numbers of fish over the magic 50cm mark are being boated, with fish over 60cm (absolute horses!) not uncommon.

On another positive note there have been some big amberjack in the same area smashing hooked pearlies. XOS ambos have not moved into their usual southwestern haunts for the past couple of years, so it is great to have located them again. Make sure you have a serious, preferably 24kg outfit with a strong 80lb+ leader and triple extra strong hooks.

Ambos can easily be confused with Samsonfish who, like yellowtail kingfish, are from the same Seriola family – it makes it worse when all three haunt the same types of areas. If you are not sure if it’s an ambo or Samson, here are some tips to help identify it.

Ambos have a more streamlined sleek appearance than Samsonfish and the characteristic yellow stripe along the entire side of their body is more pronounced, especially between the eye and nose. To get super technical if you are still confused you can do a dorsal ray count. This is in simple terms counting the soft dorsal fins that will be obvious down their spines when you have him landed; Ambos have 29-35, Samsonfish have 23-25 and if you are super confused, kingies have 31-34! Remember minimum size is 50cm and a combined bag limit of two for ambos or Samsonfish or one of each.

For the record, the verified angling record is 150cm fork length and 67.6 kg according to Queensland Fisheries website. But records are made to be broken! For more information check out the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website. Very informative on all Queensland species, size and bag limits and pictures of all fish to help with those that come over the side of your boat for the first time.

Fresh is best when it comes to bait. We have been using fresh small local squid I have caught on board my beam trawler and over the past months it has proven its weight in fish.

It’s extremely difficult to source fresh local squid so next best thing is to catch my own for the fishing trips. We tried another experimental bait for fresh flesh instead of frozen mullet and that went well too. Believe it or not the humble Brisbane River catfish put a lot of fish in the box for us and generated a lot of hits. I caught the catfish the night before a charter and its stripped down oily and strong smelling flesh went surprisingly well.

It’s also a time for huge gold spot cod to run through the shallower waters in the northern areas of Wide Caloundra, especially around the Wild Banks artificials and areas east of those. Live baits are deadly and readily available on the artificials. A wire trace doesn’t seem to bother them too much and may have to be used if too many are biting you off.

Speaking from experience (the hard way), gold spot cod are well armed and their teeth are razor sharp and gill rakers can slice your finger like butter, so take care. Likewise, when cleaning, watch the gills as when they swallow up bait fish and make sure there is no escape through the gills. It’s a one-way trip down that huge mouth once they are in it and an errant finger also will get stuck!

For cod and groupers there is a maximum 120cm and a minimum 38cm size limit with a total bag limit of five. Fish over 1m are common so consider letting the bigger ones go as the better eating quality like a lot of fish lies with the smaller guys.

Cobia are also on the target list with livies. If you are losing line and the reel is smoking that is what you should see After a short fight, you will lose line and the reel will be smoking as they do their usual run to the surface for a look at you before going hell for leather back to the depths for a dirty fight they are renowned for.

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