Winter arrives late and fish respond
  |  First Published: September 2013

The real winter has finally arrived as we know it with some fantastic conditions throughout August. About time, but the old better late than never saying applies here with the whales providing background entertainment to the fishing and fantastic glassy afternoons.

Late July saw massive schools of pilchards roll through the area over several days, which points to another good trolling season coming up. If it is half as good as last year, it will make for many happy anglers. The weather and the fishing cycles have hopefully hit a more normal pattern that will hold through spring and into summer, allowing us to take advantage of the conditions.

The fishing overall has been very good of late especially around the new moon and either side in August with some moon above in the afternoon coupled with favourable tides.

Great fishing has been had from 70-90m along the entire length of Wide Caloundra while working the ledges and humps. There has still been that tendency, as from last month’s report, for solid bite periods lasting 2 hours or so with fish still to be had in between, but on a lesser scale and at times it’s a real scratch. There is plenty of ground needing to be turned over to keep the fish hitting the box and filling in the gaps. Better bites are occurring just after dawn and on dusk and, as you would traditionally expect, around tide changes.

Excellent pearl perch are holding through those lines with the odd trag jew mixed in. We haven’t experienced the frenzy so far this winter of getting into a school of them and the chaos that creates, more so just a couple here and there and a hope for a more concentrated catch in the future off the pinnacles along the 80-90m line when they school up solidly. Recent trips have also seen some 40cm hussar being boated requiring a double take after being used to the ones half that size and a tad bigger. Great table fish and good to see some about with a bit of size like those found further north.

The shallower grounds at the northern end of Wide Caloundra are holding good quality Maori cod, parrot and snapper, especially early in the morning and just after dark. As seems to happen later in the winter season, livies can be a day to day proposition, being a plague one day and missing the next. If conditions allow, using feeding birds to show the way. It’s worth the efforts though as cobia and amberjack and bigger model snapper still throughout that area.

Using two and three gang snood rigs with 10 ball sinkers fishing whole baits, squid, pillies, mullet strips, fresh flesh baits and livies has seen a marked improvement in quality keepers being boated and a reduction in the pesky 30-34cm models. These guys make it a hard day hauling them up from the depths just to toss them back, so this method has proved to be a good way of avoiding throwbacks as much as possible and making it an easier day with still a quality haul.

It has been going on for over 12 months and bugs me a bit so just a word about my observations of people towards alternate fishing methods. We have a large number of great clients aboard with differing experience and expectations and many are happy to spend the day bottom bashing and bagging their fish that way and are a little wary of swapping to newer methods. I suppose you stick to what you know or feel works. Many, well I must say all, have a resistance to fishing with plastics for the first time and it’s rare when we ask for volunteers to flick one out to have someone put their hand up straight away. I find it a bit odd as I would think people would jump on a charter to be put on top of fish with the right bait, gear and tackle to have a great day, yet most have minds closed to alternate fishing methods that they come aboard to experience.

You will catch better quality fish guaranteed they are told. Still no volunteers. The plastics would stay in the box for the day unless either myself or deckie drops one over and proves they work. Sometimes it takes one quality fish to be boated to get some attention and maybe an “I will give it a try”. When the second comes aboard, usually there is a stampede. It amazes me every time people need to see proof plastics work before they will touch them despite TV and magazines showing time and again their effectiveness in all conditions and pretty much all fish.

There is no mystery, no special method or difficulty other than the correctly weighted jighead for conditions and type and style of plastic. I can hook up while still backing the boat up on a drift to show the clients. Flicking it out at the start of a drift on free spool and into a holder, driving the boat and keeping the drift, returning to check the depth and flicking over the bail arm – it’s that simple. Most times without working the jig results in a hook up and a call for who wants to pull this one in as the rod buckles over, usually with a top quality pearlie or snapper.

Do plastics work at night? There is some doubt amongst many and you naturally wouldn’t think so being a visual stimulant, but they do and the proof is pictured with the quality snapper bagged on a 2oz jighead with a 7” pearl white Jerkshad plastic just after dark. This old boy was bagged along the 60m humps at the northern end of Wide Caloundra along with a couple of smaller mates on the pearl whites in the dark with plastics that were not being worked but simply set in the rod holders. Quality fish on minimal effort.

Needless to say we had 8 converts that night and throughout that day with the plastics accounting for some quality pearlies earlier in the session wider on the 80-90m ledges. And by comparison, dead baits and livies also fished when those snapper were caught landed smaller pearlies, Moses perch and just legal snapper. I know what I would have rather tackled!

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