I really love this time of year, the temperature is not too hot and the afternoon northeast sea breeze is nowhere near as strong as in summer. This makes late afternoon sessions so much more enjoyable and fishable. You also get extended periods of good weather that allows us to get out on the water on a more regular basis.
I have been lucky enough to be getting out on the bay a fair bit of late. There is just so much bait out there at the moment, which are sitting in open water as well as along the drop-offs around the islands.
In saying that, when you are going out chasing snapper around the islands don't expect that you are going to go out there and find a heap of bait at the first place you stop. Even though there is a lot of bait out there, they are not spread out but congregated in huge numbers in specific areas.
I had a trip recently where this happened. We fished Peel Island for a few hours with only one or two small fish coming on board. There was bait showing on the sounder but only small patches, so we decided to go for a sound around over to a new area. When you are out there you need to think like a fish, look at what the tide is doing and where you think the fish would be hanging out. There was an outgoing tide and all the bait was being pushed on the top of the reef as it was draining. As soon as we got there the sounder lit up with an amazing amount of bait and before I could even get the electric motor in the water my mate was on.
Now it wasn't as easy as it sounded because after that we had thought that they had shut down a little. So I tried throwing a hardbody around to see if that would induce a bite, it didn't. So I went back to plastics.
Looking at the sounder all we could see was a consistent line of bait about 2m thick. Unfortunately, working the plastics through them at that depth was not working so we tried letting the jighead sink through the bait and touch the bottom. As soon as we did this, our plastics were getting belted. The snapper were obviously sitting down under the bait school and picking up bait off the bottom of the school.
We started off with fish around the 35-40cm range but as the sun dropped and disappeared, the bigger fish around 50cm came on. There was bigger fish there too, with a few bust offs mixed in.
It wasn't just snapper that we were getting under this one bait school. There were just as many Moses perch and grassy sweetlip, with a good chance of encountering a mulloway, tailor and the odd longtail as well. It is very important when you get onto fish like this, and you finish your drift, that you idle out wide and go around the area that you are fishing and do not go straight up over where you have been fishing. If you do this, the fish will stay active for a lot longer.
The deeper reefs around the bay have been producing good fish as well with good snapper and mulloway being caught in the last month. The big problem has been the sharks, with many fish coming up bitten in half. Moving around can help this but it may only give you a short time on a spot before the sharks follow you. Unfortunately you can have days where you just can't get away from them.
Hopefully the pattern of good weather continues and we can all get out amongst some good fish.Reads: 911