Bizarre conditions have still produced
  |  First Published: August 2013

Like most offshore fishers we have again been cursed by a run of weather over recent months that can only be described as bizarre. East Coast lows forming off Fraser and NSW at this time of year just isn’t right!

While possibly a Chinese whisper, a colleague tells me a mate at the Bureau of Metoerology says that the five-year projected average wind models for offshore waters shows the average wind speed for our fisheries will be 25 knots. Maybe it’s already started because the wind average over the last few months would be close to that!

Nevertheless, in between insane weather conditions there is good news. The winter run of snapper is in full force at Wide Caloundra. Excellent numbers are about on the usual haunts of the 60m line at the northern end of Wide Caloundra and, judging by the boat traffic of recent trips, it’s no great secret!

I have experienced one little trap, snapper feeding is sporadic and changes from day to day. There is a prime bite for a couple of hours but then they shut down very quickly despite still being on the marks on the sounder. On a recent string of fishable weather, the first day after a big blow and large swells subsided, 6-7kg models were jumping on the lines without hesitation in the middle of the day. A heavy presence of sharks was taking its toll on a lot of bodiless knobbies, but still great fishing.

You would think same Bat time, same Bat channel, but the next day it was not to be.

A northwest wind had come in and that sent the snapper hiding and the smaller, just legal to 45cm variety, were all that could be found. After the morning tide change they too lost their appetite and thinned out. That’s fishing I suppose! It made for a frustrating day on charter that began with high hopes for big snapper. Despite being logical to base the next day’s fishing on the one you just had, they are not there until they are in a photo or in the box!

The following day the bigger variety were back. While not the size of the first day they were still respectable, 2-3kg models, which are prime table size and good for a fun fight. As in the previous day, the morning tide change slowed things right down. After turning over a lot of good historical fishing ground, we found some hungry ones out along the 75-80m contour and a respectable haul was made.

The better snapper and consistent bites are coming early morning and late afternoon, but are still heavily influenced by tide changes and wind direction. Fishing on ground that runs in a favourable direction to your drift line will increase your fishing time over the structure and result in more hook ups and better use of your time. This is particularly important when bite times may be limited to shorter periods. A long drift along a structure using current and prevailing wind is always better than a drift across a structure for a fleeting minute or two where the fish are holding.

We found that the better fish were taking the bigger baits, such as whole squid and squid tubes with a pillie inserted in side on 3 hooked snood rigs. A lot of gear changes and techniques were thrown at them when they went quiet to get some interest going again but all caught fish in the end. Paternoster and float lines also used and produced their fair share.

Pearl perch are also thick through these lines but require a lot of patience and hard winding work to get some for the box. The pesky 33-34cm variety are rampant, grabbing a chew before the wise old ones we want get a look in. They are there but mixed in with the undersize ones.

The better quality pearlies are holding along the 90-100m drop off. If you are after good quality specimens it would be best to give the shallower waters a quick rattle to see who is home first. My money is on the wider grounds for some better quality fish coming over the side with more consistency.

We found that the better fish were taking the bigger baits, such as whole squid and squid tubes with a pillie inserted in side on 3 hooked snood rigs. A lot of gear changes and techniques were thrown at them when they went quiet to get some interest going again. All caught fish in the end, but paternoster and float lines produced their fair share.

As a back up for snapper, stop on the way out or home, head to the shallow grounds mid to north Wide Caloundra from the Wild Banks Artificials north along 45m depths. There is some good ground through there that holds a lot of livies at every stop. Grassies, Moses, cobia and big cod are hounding the baitfish and worth a drop.

While beam trawling for banana prawns in the Brisbane River just off Wagners and the boat ramp on the western side of the river about a mile upstream from Fort Lytton, I have been catching some very nice snapper in the trawl net. I have been getting 3-4kg fish and 2-3 at a time fairly consistently, along with other trawlers working the area. Breaks your heart but they must be thrown back. Obviously feeding on the prawns going up the river, it is an option to consider to satisfy the snapper bug when this unseasonal weather we have been having strikes again!

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