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Get off that couch!
  |  First Published: November 2013



For anglers plying their trade upon Moreton Bay and its filtering waterways throughout the month of November, there will be plenty of piscatorial delights to tempt your tastebuds.

Pelagic species will become more prominent, and there will also be plenty of demersal targets on offer. You can expect mackerel, mangrove jack, cobia, sharks and tuna to be the highlights, however the piscatorial delights will be widespread and varied. Let’s look at some of your options during November.

MACKEREL

One of the favourite species for bay anglers during the warmer months is mackerel. These silver streaks are not only awesome sportfish but they are also prime table fare.

Both school and spotted mackerel can generally be found in reasonable numbers throughout Moreton Bay. The school mackerel always turn up first and then the spotties a little later, sometimes not until December, although it pays to be ready.

Anglers chasing mackerel can tempt and target these fish in many ways on both artificials and baits. Obviously we all love it when we come upon a surface-feeding school of hungry mackerel. Because a surface explosion can erupt at any time, having a high-speed spin rod pre-rigged with your favourite lure can almost guarantee some tasty white fillets for the table.

Often, however, you will need a more concentrated effort to find the fish. School mackerel are generally a lot more widespread than the spotties and can show up almost anywhere – from shallow flats and the bay island margins to the deep channels. Many anglers use the humble pilly to flush out any mackerel in the area. The standard approach is to pin the pilly on ganged hooks and suspend it beneath a float in likely areas such as the bay island margins, the edges of prominent banks, within major channels, and around the beacons and markers of the shipping channels.

Adding a little berley into the area, generally in the form of finely sliced pilchard pieces, will often increase results on mackerel, but may also attract sharks.

The Measured Mile is a very popular spot and can be reached by tinnies over 4m leaving from the Brisbane River mouth during decent weather conditions. Anglers generally anchor in this zone and float out pilchard baits, although spinning lures can also produce. The mackerel, both schoolies and spotties, will generally come forth sporadically with almost every rod in the water going off in a short period when a school turns up. Early morning high tides offer the best opportunity at the Measured Mile.

When fishing around the bay islands, whether on the drift or anchored, floating out a pilchard can be extremely worthwhile. Mackerel and larger snapper are the most common captures. When fishing soft plastics I often drift a pilchard out the back, and this has produced good results.

The beacons throughout the bay, especially those in the northern bay, are also likely to attract a few mackerel if they are holding bait. These beacons can be probed by jigging with chromed metal lures or by sinking pilchard baits into the zone adjacent to them.

Trolling with small, deep-diving minnow lures allows you to cover a decent area of water in a short time. The edges of major channels are good places to try initially, however trolling can produce mackerel in a host of locations throughout the bay, even on top of major flats during the higher stages of the tide.

If you find surface-feeding schools, you can work them over with small chromed slugs and slices retrieved at high speed. The melee as these fish feed voraciously can often be sighted from some distance away, the birds signalling the action below. However, a keen eye will also spot the small V-shaped wakes produced by mackerel cruising just below the surface.

Mackerel action should increase over the coming months so get geared up for their arrival.

SHARKS

A popular sportfishing target, whaler shark numbers will increase dramatically now that the warm weather is here. This action extends from within Moreton Bay to well up the creeks and estuaries.

Although sharks can be annoying at times, they can also provide a lot of fun when caught on moderate line classes. Within Moreton Bay, I usually use 3-8kg monofilament to target catch sharks to well over 40kg.

While the average whaler is less than 10kg, don’t take them for granted as they are exceptionally strong and can still inflict a life-threatening wound if you are careless.

To target whalers within the bay, I generally float out a whole fish bait (gar, pike, saury or large pilchard) into a tuna oil slick as I drift. The areas adjacent to the bay islands, especially the spoil grounds, are prime locations, but sharks are widely spread throughout the bay.

In the rivers, your best results will come when using live offerings such as mullet and catfish. Due to the currents experienced, I generally find that berley does not work that well, however the vibrations emitted by a struggling bait will quickly attract any shark within a short distance. Most whalers encountered in the rivers will be less 8kg but large specimens will show up from time to time. When dispatched and filleted quickly, especially immediately after death, shark meat (or ‘flake’ as it is colloquially referred to) can be fairly tasty.

MANGROVE JACK

Another species that will continue to attract the attention of estuarine anglers during November is the mangrove jack. These fish respond well to a broad array of lures and live baits and generally favour well-structured areas such as mangrove snags, bridge pylons, rock walls, jetties, pontoons and other submerged structure where baitfish species are likely to pass.

Anyone with a lure or bait in the water has a chance of hooking a jack, but landing a quality jack generally requires a good degree of skill or plenty of luck.

Most of the major river and creeks systems, as well as the canals, are worth investigating. High or rising barometer readings are worth noting and will definitely increase the activity and aggressiveness of the mangrove jack. The period before a thunderstorm will often produce some great mangrove jack action, however being outdoors waving a graphite rod around may not be the smartest thing to do.

I have written a little about targeting mangrove jack over the last two months. The warm mornings and afternoons over the next few months are the perfect time to put these principles into practice.

Bycatch when targeting jacks can include trevally, estuary cod, flathead, bream, mulloway, tarpon and numerous others. Mangrove jack are an awesome sportfish so you should limit the number of fish you keep, if any at all.

COBIA

As I type this report the numbers of cobia aren’t promising, but this should hopefully improve in the coming weeks. Drifting live baits around areas such as the Comboyuro Ledge, Western Rocks, Yellowpatch and the beacons in the northern bay can be a successful approach. Whiptails, slimy mackerel, yakkas, bonito, sand crabs and various reef species (adhere to any size limits) can all be employed in your bid to tangle with a black king.

The various artificial reefs and FADS deployed in the northern end of the bay and trench are worth investigating as they readily attract cobia due to the amount of juvenile species they attract.

Quality tackle sporting line classes between 8kg and 24kg will suffice most of the time, but close to structure a large cobia is hard to stop. If you do bring aboard a quality cobia, it will yield enough tasty fillets for several meals.

TUNA

Schools of tuna can be found throughout the bay at the moment. Longtails, mack and frigates are all possibilities, as well as both species of bonito. These can be targeted with the same chromed slugs and slices that you would use for mackerel, with the Maria Mucho Lucir being the best I have yet used.

Longtails also show a liking for pencil poppers, stickbaits and numerous plastics, especially jerkshads.

Often tuna can be extremely profile-orientated and will show interest only in exact replicas of the bait they are currently feeding on, which is often miniscule. Such tiny bait imitations are hard to deliver on conventional tackle, and in this situation the flyfishers reign supreme – providing they can get close enough to the feeding fish to deliver their offering into the general zone.

The area around the mouth of the Rous Channel, the Harry Atkinson, Pearl Channel, Middle Bank, Rainbow Channel, Greasy hole and zone between the Measured Mile, Mud Island and Four Beacons are prime locations to search. When cruising around looking for surface feeding schools, especially wide of Mud Island, beware of the large Green Zone as it’s easy to venture into when going from one surface boil to the next. If you are caught in the Green Zone, the fine will definitely spoil your day and put a big dent in your fishing budget.

BRISBANE RIVER

The Brisbane River never ceases to amaze me with the quality of the fish that it produces. Considering that it snakes its way through a major Australian city (with a dense population along both banks) for the majority of its length, the Brisbane River is a relatively healthy and thriving fishery.

A broad array of species can be encountered here including threadfin salmon, mulloway, estuary cod, flathead, snapper, bream and crabs, as well as less desirable species like rays, sharks and catfish.

The majority of the fishing is undertaken in the lower reaches from the Gateway Bridge all the way down to the mouth, however various saltwater species are caught right up to the brackish reaches near Mount Crosby. Above this, the freshwater reaches produce bass, golden perch, Mary River cod and several others.

For anglers probing the lower reaches, the fishing can take some getting used to but with a bit of effort you’ll be confidently targeting a range of species in a short time. Casting lures or live baiting along the edges of the prominent drop-offs into the main riverbed and submerged ledges, especially around the start of the falling tide, will generally produce species such as threadfin salmon, mulloway, flathead and snapper.

Around more structured areas, such as the bases of jetty pylons and rock walls, you can expect snapper, bream, estuary cod and numerous others. Live baits such as banana prawns, herring, mullet, gar, greasy prawns and pike can be caught using a cast net at area such as Clara’s Rocks, the sewerage chute, Boggy Creek, Aquarium Passage and numerous other locations. These can be used to tempt most inhabitants of the Brisbane River when fished close to the bottom around jetties, rocks and underwater contours and ledges.

Cut fillet baits (pike, mullet etc.), prawns, squid strips, pilchards and numerous other offerings will also produce desirable species. However, they are also more likely to attract sharks, pike eels, rays, catfish and the like.

Popular spots include Clara’s Rocks, the ledge adjacent to the oil pipeline, the rock retaining wall at the mouth, under the Gateway Bridge, the Sunken Wall and around the numerous jetties and wharves.

There is some pretty awesome fishing and crabbing to be experienced once you get this system wired and it offers a convenient area to fish, especially when conditions don’t allow you to venture further afield.

OFFSHORE PELAGICS

Anglers fishing offshore at The Group (off Point Lookout), the Trench, Hutchinson Shoals, Flinders Reef and numerous other offshore locations are likely to encounter some decent pelagic action throughout November. Trolling lures is generally the best way to locate and hook these speedsters on hardbodied minnows, bibless minnows, resin head skirts, metal head skirts, large blades and numerous others.

Likely captures can include wahoo, mahi mahi (dolphinfish), tuna, Spanish mackerel, sailfish and black marlin. Last season was the best for juvenile black marlin that we have witnessed in almost two decades; if you were out there with a spread of small resin-head skirts in the water, your chance of success was nothing short of awesome.

This year is looking promising so start thinking about getting set up and out there, no matter if you are trying to catch your first or 500th billfish.

SPOILED FOR CHOICE

Fishing is looking awesome for November with a broad array of piscatorial targets on offer throughout the Moreton Bay region. In addition to the saltwater fishing, plenty of freshwater targets are available in the nearby impoundments, rivers and creeks. With hot pelagic action available offshore plus plenty of snapper, sweetlip, pelagics and others throughout Moreton bay and a plethora of piscators in the healthy creek and river systems, November is looking like an awesome month to be fishing the region.

Slip, Slop and Slap before getting out onto your favourite patch of water because you aren’t going to catch much with your butt glued to the couch.

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