Anglers will find plenty of opportunity in June to get amongst some prime table and sports fish throughout the Moreton Bay area. We are well into the chilly part of the year and to tolerate a trip out, especially at night, you will generally need a beanie, warm clothing and a flask of soup or coffee to make the trip more enjoyable. Nevertheless, as the fishing in June is so good you’ll probably get up a sweat just catching them!
I am sure that many fish will be begging to hop into the warm frying pan to escape the elements of winter. Let’s look at a few of the possibilities and prime targets for anglers to concentrate on when getting out during the next few weeks.
One of the more heavily targeted species by the recreational anglers, bream can be caught in good numbers throughout most creek, river, estuary and canal systems. They respond to a broad array of techniques from simple baits such as bread dough to carefully worked topwater lures and flies. On occasion they can be simple to tempt and overly aggressive, yet at other times bream can be exceptionally fickle in their diet and shy by nature.
Larger numbers of bream enter the estuarine waters during the cooler months (often via an en masse migration around the full moon) as they congregate to breed. Many of these larger silvery fish (often called snowies) are aggressive eaters and the fishing can be exceptionally good with an increase in numbers and average size. For the average angler this can be an exciting time as the fishing is generally fairly easy.
Good baits can include prawns, yabbies, fillet strips, mullet gut, fowl gut, raw chicken fillet, pilchard cubes, whitebait and a host of others. Fish these baits on a running sinker rig with a size #4 to #1/0 hook and you should be in with a great chance. Obviously some areas can often hold better numbers of quality bream than others but this will vary from system to system so it pays to try different spots until you get it sorted. Try along the edges of rock walls, the down current side of prominent banks, mouths of creeks, deep channels and other areas where baitfish and other food sources are likely to congregate.
Lure fishing is rapidly gaining popularity as a way to target bream. A broad array can be employed including blades, soft plastics, topwater offerings (such as poppers, stick baits, bent minnows and paddlers), small vibration baits, minnow lures and micro jigs.
Which is the best to use, where and when is rather hard to work out at times. However it is something you will figure out as you spend more time on the water increasing your knowledge of the bream’s habits and the best techniques for presenting and working each lure. Basically, getting off your butt and getting out there doing it is the best way to gain experience, however you can initially get a few pointers by doing some research via online and print media.
One of the more heavily targeted species for Moreton Bay anglers during the cooler months is snapper. While they can be caught to good sizes within the bay right throughout the year, larger numbers are on offer during the cooler months as many fish come inshore for spawning purposes. Often the hard part is avoiding the hordes of smaller fish as you target that trophy knobby. Generally, however there are plenty of table quality fish in the 45-60cm range to make the effort worthwhile.
I target my snapper on soft plastics, vibration baits and occasionally trolled minnow lures, however soaking baits is the preferred method for many anglers. Pilchards, squid, fillet strips, small whole winter whiting and numerous other offerings can be put to good use when targeting snapper.
Keep your rigs simple with a running ball sinker rig or a paternoster setup using the minimum amount of lead that you require to just keep the bait in position. Fluorocarbon leaders, quality baits, subtle rigging and the ability to be quiet can greatly increase your chances in any heavily fished waters.
Casting baits up current and letting them drift down with the current can also be a great way to tempt those better fish. Baits do not have to be fished on the bottom to tempt snapper as many of the better fish will feed higher up in the water column, therefore a slowly sinking bait (generally called float-lining) will often produce great results. The added bonus can be a big tailor, school mackerel, longtail or numerous other species.
Around the bay islands and the artificial reefs, many anglers use lures to target snapper. Drifting through an area and casting offerings is generally the best way to produce results. Snapper commonly roam throughout these areas so don’t think you have to be on some secret spot to achieve results. Drifting and blind casting can work extremely well however paying attention to working your lures around prominent bait can be rewarding.
Some of the best snapper I have caught have been well wide of the bay islands in more than 10m of water. After seeing a few hardiheads flick on the surface I have cast to the general area and had my plastic smashed right on the surface because snapper will commonly rise through the water column to target surface baitfish activity.
Trolling minnow lures is gaining popularity and many quality snapper have been taken by anglers working these offerings around the bay island margins and over the artificial reefs or wreck areas. Deep diving offerings up to 130mm in length are generally preferred. Early mornings and late afternoons generally fish the best on the more heavily worked areas, regardless of tidal movement.
This slab-sided silver species has come to prominence for SEQ anglers over the last three years. Mulloway are now common captures in the rivers and many areas of the bay. They will respond to fairly much the same lures, techniques and baits as snapper but really have a liking for live baits, especially mullet, pike, large prawns, herring and small whiting. Legal specimens are fairly common captures now and plenty of anglers are catching specimens better than 1m in length.
Casting lures around lit up areas within the Brisbane River, canals and other systems at night can be an exciting and rewarding way to fish. In this situation I have a preference for paddle-tail shad and crustacean profiled plastics, vibration baits such as Fish Candies, Trans Am, Mask Vibe and Samaki Shadaliscious as well as Sebile Magic Swimmers plus some minnow lures can work well.
You sometimes find that mulloway will eat anything you throw in front of them. Due to the Brisbane River’s water being slightly discoloured and the fast current flow, mulloway will generally feed aggressively, grabbing whatever they see before they miss just out. For the angler this is positive because most lures work well, generally get the mulloway’s attention and generating a strike.
By-catch when working your lures around the lights of the Brisbane River during the cooler months can include king threadfin salmon, tailor and occasionally estuary cod, bream and flathead, depending on the location. They was even a 90cm barramundi caught and released recently from a land-based position by a very experienced Brisbane River angler, so you never know what may grab your offering!
Plenty of mulloway have been taken within Moreton Bay over recent years. The Harry Atkinson, Peel Artificial and various deeper holes around Macleay, Coochiemudlo and other areas have been productive. At times the mulloway have been schooling up and some anglers have caught more than a dozen legal specimens (over 75cm) in a session.
Micro jigging has become a highly successful technique for bay mulloway with some anglers having mastered the art of finding and catching mulloway at a host of locations throughout the bay. Other successful offerings are blades, vibration baits, soft plastics of numerous kinds and deep diving minnow lures.
Most of the areas where you catch snapper can produce mulloway and other species, which just adds to the excitement of hooking up. Handle any fish destined for release with care to ensure they are healthy when you get them back in the water.
Good numbers of squid should be around during June, especially around the shallows of the bay islands and the mainland foreshores. Clean water flowing over reef, rubble or weed beds or around other prominent structure such as rock walls, pontoons and jetties is likely to hold squid.
Lit up areas are prime water during the darkened hours as they attract baitfish, shrimps and other morsels that the squid commonly prey on. Casting an egi (slow sinking prawn-profile lure) around these areas is one of the best ways to get amongst a few, although they will occasionally attack all manner of baits especially whole fish.
Rigging a skewer with a pilchard or other baitfish and suspending it beneath a float can be a great way to get amongst a few quality squid. The next few months should be prime for targeting cephalopods, which are a tasty seafood.
Another highly popular recreational species, especially for those who frequent the surf beaches, tailor can be caught in good numbers and to respectable sizes. Their prevalence in any area is directly related to baitfish activity as they commonly follow and herd species, such as frogmouths, herring, pilchards and whitebait but will also attack mullet, garfish, prawns, squid and most other bait sources.
The estuaries and larger rivers can often hold some respectable specimens and we commonly catch them in the Brisbane River while targeting mulloway and snapper. Some good land-based spots can include the Manly Harbour rock walls, Woody Point Jetty, Scarborough Jetty, Victoria Point Jetty and Cleveland Point. They will take a broad array baits, especially whole fish baits (either dead or alive), and also respond well to a wide range of lures such as blades, vibration baits, minnow lures, soft plastics, poppers and stickbaits. Anglers spinning the surf gutters will generally use whole pilchards, metal slugs and slices or pencil poppers and stickbaits.
Walking a beach and spinning lures can be a very relaxing and enjoyable way to get a few tailor fillets for the table. Early morning and late afternoon rising tides can provide some prime conditions for this pursuit. Kayakers often get amongst them around the Cleveland Point area, the ledges out from Wellington Point and Scarborough Reef although trolling a few lures around any shallow reef or rubble areas or in the residential canals can be worthwhile.
Pelagic activity in Moreton Bay during June can include bonito (Watsons leaping and Australian), mac tuna, school mackerel and the prized longtails although I will not be surprised if there are still a few Spanish mackerel about, as quite a few have been caught of late at numerous areas throughout the bay.
Trolling mid-diving lures across the prominent sand flats, such as those out from Tangalooma and the Sand Hills and also Middle Bank, can be rewarding for school mackerel and bonito. Jigging the beacons with slugs and slices will most likely produce school mackerel but all manner of pelagics, including cobia, can be caught.
Surface bust ups can be found anywhere at any time and anglers commonly cast metal slugs and slices, sinking stickbaits (such as Yozuri Adagio, Maria Blues Code and Slim, Sebile 114 Sinking Stick Shads and numerous others) as well as surface poppers (both bloopers and pencil poppers). Soft plastic jerkshad style plastics can also work exceptionally well. Trolling deep diving minnow lures around the outer fringes of the bay islands and the artificial reefs can be highly successful and is a good way to check out an area on your sounder for future snapper fishing sessions.
Jigging the artificial reefs with either high speed slices or micro jigs can produce an array of pelagic species. It can also pay to have a pilchard out under a float while drifting around casting plastics for snapper, as school, spotted and Spanish mackerel as well as bonito and tuna species can be caught.
With such a broad array of species on offer to tempt your angling skills during June, you should be busting to get out onto the water. The fishing has been awesome over the last few winters and this year shouldn’t be any different. The reward of a nice hot meal of scrumptious seafood is just rewards for braving the elements.
Slip on a coat, slop some coffee into the thermos and slap on a beanie and you will be ready to enjoy the piscatorial boom of June.
We should see some quality snapper captures over the next few months. Rob more than doubled his previous PB with this solid specimen taken on a Z-Man Diezel Minnow in the pinfish colour from the Harry Atkinson.
Bream are a great target species for the whole family and will take a broad array of baits and lures.Reads: 334