Offshore options cast far
  |  First Published: June 2013

This morning I went to the Raptis Fish Markets to drop off some prawns I caught for the Friday auction and it’s a fascinating place for any fisho to have a look around. It’s easy to get lost for a while looking through the fish bins, some containing what would be a rec fishers fish of a lifetime!

It’s also a great place to see what is being caught commercially, gauge sizes and quantity. The commercial guys are always up for a chat and it’s a top place to see what’s about and where to build the intelligence database for future charters.

The big mackerel had been coming through for a few weeks with the improved weather conditions but familiar tails hanging out of a couple of fish bins caught my eye and I must say brought a happy smile to my face. One thing I hadn’t seen for a while was a big bin of locally caught monster cobia for sale. They are back in numbers, you beauty!

According to my catch data from last year, May and June were big months for us bagging the 10kg+ specimens and the auction offerings confirmed they are about in good size and numbers.

My attention in June will return to the shallower ground of 40-60m at the northern end of Wide Caloundra to bag a few more cobia this year. The Wild Banks artificials will be holding them and the live bait schools have been present there for several weeks; cobia are partial to a livey drifted over and around the artificials and the shallower ground nearby. Three hooked 5 or 6/0 snood rigs work well, but I prefer simply one hook pinning the livey through the upper mouth with a 4-6oz running ball sinker. It allows the livey more freedom to swim and put on a big show that he is in distress and on the menu as an easy feed. This method won’t bag as many of the other species partial to a livey of a smaller size who miss the single hook, but all in all a gamble worth taking.

Live bait schools have been quite easy to find the past few weeks holding in the area around and on the Wild Banks artificials. If heading out past Combi they have been pretty thick in the area halfway between Combi and the Cape in 15m+ and along the contour line as the depth drops as you approach the Cape. If they are not on the usual bait marks, the birds will soon give them away. On the calmer mornings, they are active on the surface and easy to spot flicking on top of the water.

It is well worth stopping and putting a few bait in the live bait well on the way out for the ambos, cobes and snapper.

Pearl perch have been about in good numbers along the 80-60m line at times. Size has been the biggest problem with an ongoing problem of the 32-33cm variety beating the keepers to the cut baits.

With a short stop off gathering livies on the way out, we haven’t been disappointed with the big pearlies. Bait have been accounting for most of the bigger 2-3kg pearlies and the odd decent Maori and gold spot cod still getting around as the water temp slowly cools down for the winter run.

In the following is a word on targeting species, method and sticking to your game plan, and above all being patient!

During a recent charter, Frank Ditullio, an Incredible regular client targeted big snapper. An experienced offshore float liner and snapper man, he fished from the start with a float line, small ball sinker and ganged hooks baited with a full pilly. He parked himself quietly in the corner while his mates bottom-bashed pearlies and mixed reefies bagging some nice fish to tempt him to change tactics. But Frank stuck to his guns and kept to his plan feeding out line drift after drift, floating that pilly out all through the morning session bagging some nice Maori cod along the way.

Then, just after lunch in 25m just off Cape Moreton, his plan came together and he hooked up the big snapper he had so patiently worked all day for. It was the reward for some great patient and targeted fishing, and it was great to see the discipline to stick to his plan and not be distracted. Great fishing Frank and well done.

June is a snapper month at Wide Caloundra, method is vital. The most effective without doubt is, as Frank and many others have proven, a lightly weighted full pilly well presented on ganged hooks 5 or 6/0 drifted out with continual line feed, with the pilly drifting down through the depths.

With patience and having a plan, and rolling over known snapper territory, you stand the highest chance of reward with a prized big red over June and the coming colder months. And I must say the ‘bang’ when they hit you on the way down is what gives you the buzz – sudden and unannounced and a real rush of excitement that keeps you coming back for more.

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