It’s all about the heat and humidity in November and this will be the number one contributing factor as to what will be on the bite. Out wide the reefs around Bowen such as the Wallabies, Gould and Olde Reef will be firing up in a big way as the water begins to warm and the coral reef fin fish begin to get into spawning mode.
The conditions will see fish like coral trout and sweetlip congregate in big numbers and even more significantly become veraciously hungry, which is great news if you’re an angler waiting above with baited hook or rigged soft plastic.
Many people still prefer to fish the outer reef with baits such as squid or pilchard, however big plastics like 7” jerk shads or big grub like plastics can often bring out the bigger and better fish. The trick to using these big plastics is to work the front pressure side of coral structures and jig the plastic up and down in the bottom third of the water column. It’s also a good idea to let the plastic thump into the bottom every now and then as this can bring out the more inquisitive coral trout.
A 2oz jighead is usually preferred when fishing out the reef, however if you are in the shallows you can get away with a much lighter jighead. Just make sure your drags are tight and your leader is abrasive, as fish like coral trout love to dive for structure straight after taking your lure which often means turning their heads to the surface as quickly as possible.
If you are using bait then here’s a little trick I picked up from a pro trout fishermen. When you get to a new spot drop down five or six pilchards or squid first without any hooks and let them settle on the bottom. This will often bring out the smaller hussar and stripeys, which in turn attract fish like coral trout and red throat emperor. When you drop down your baits, these fish will be ready and primed to get in on the action while the pickers are out of the way.
This is also a great way to use berley out on the reef without bringing in the sharks, which can spoil a spot in no time.
One last thing, if you are using smaller fish like hussar and fusiliers for bait don’t throw your frames over the side as this can also bring in sharks and other unwanted predators, such as barracuda. It’s a much better idea to dump your frames as you are leaving.
The reef will not only be place where the fish will be biting and the deep water shoals will also be firing up. As the weather gets warmer the large and small mouth nannygai fishing tends to get a little more difficult during the day however the night can see some absolutely arm stretching sessions on these fish.
Once again most people prefer to use bait for these fish and if you are planning on using the smelly stuff make sure you leave the squid and pilchards at home and use large slab baits. I like using large mullet or mackerel slabs rigged to ganged hooks. Smaller baits are often lost to smaller pest fish such as hussar, iodine bream or even worse the dreaded triggerfish. By using large slab baits it gives your bait time to find a solid red fish to come along and suck it down.
Soft plastics are also a very worthwhile option when targeting reds and once again the bigger the better in this case.
The only problem with fishing for reds at night in November is the onset of storms, which can often brew very quickly. Storms can turn glassed-out conditions into washing machines very quickly so it’s best to keep an eye out on the radar for any cells making their way offshore. Don’t forget the Coral Reef Fin Fish closures midnight 30 October to midnight 4 November 2013 which will see many of these fish off limits to target.
The hot and humid conditions will also see a hot bite in the creeks and, with barramundi off the target list, many anglers will turn their rods toward the might mangrove jack and golden snapper.
Jacks will be best targeted around snags on the bottom of the tide and all creeks around Bowen will be ripe for the picking this time of year. These fish will respond the best just before or right after a storm as it tends to send them on a feeding spree. I love chasing jacks on lures this time of year as they are actively feeding and don’t need much encouragement to come out and wolf down a lure. Surface fishing is a great way to tangle with these fish and medium walk the dog style lures are an excellent way to enjoy a jack attack.
The other prize creek fish will be the golden snapper and the best way to tangle with these fish is to bounce soft vibes like Thready Busters or Transams around the deeper holes and rock bars. These are more prolific down the southern end of the bay in Bowen in creeks like Billys and the Gregory. Once you find a bit of deep water structure it’s a good idea to drop these to the bottom and rip them through the bottom third of the water column. Don’t be surprised if you come up tight on some absolute freight trains as these fish fight just as hard and as strong as a mangrove jack.
Next month will see much the same except we will see more rainfall, which will only serve to stir the reef and creek fish up even more.Reads: 808