July is bream and mackerel time in our area and both species have really fired up just in time.
Let’s start with bream. I can't believe how many anglers wait all year for the run of bream over winter. There have been some really good bream caught with some of the big fish reaching 50cm which is a cracking bream anywhere in the country. The Burnett River is the most popular of the bream haunts, with the North Wall and Kirbys Wall being the two mainstays. The very end of the North Wall is famous for large schools of bream moving up out of the channel and hanging there.
For the bait fishers you can't beat a live prawn or yabby but there are plenty of old salts out there who have their favourites. I have seen mullet and chicken gut catch plenty of fish, as has the old squid and of course the old favourite fresh sprat. Lightly weighted baits fished on light line will more often than not out-fish the heavier line and sinkers. By light line I mean 4-6lb. You will lose a few fish but you will hook more, so the odds of landing more fish increase.
For the lure fisherman who has a hankering for bream on lures, small blades work very well along the wall, as do a multitude of soft plastics. My favourite is the old faithful 3” Gulp Shrimp in the new penny colour, rigged on a nice light jighead. Just let the plastic waft around in the school and look out!
The bream don't just enter the Burnett, of course; they do enter other rivers and creeks and the Baffle is one of them. Roger from the Baffle Creek Caravan Park reports most of his guests are getting heaps of quality bream. Most fish have been taken on bait but anglers targeting them on lures are getting their share as well. Funnily enough, Roger’s boat ramp is a hot spot with many of his land-based guests catching a feed right where everyone puts in and leaves to find the fish. His guests have been picking bream up in most sections of the river, and berley is the key to getting the big ones on the chew.
Mackerel have been getting caught up and down the Queensland Coast, and Bundaberg anglers haven't been missing out either. We should see some settling down of the wind this month, with a few cool westerlies allowing the smaller boats out the front.
Trolling is a very effective way of targeting these speedsters, and because they cruise at 20km/h it's a good idea to troll with a bit of speed. Depending on what you are trolling, try to keep your speed up around 12 knots and vary it if you’re not getting bites. Most quality hard bodied lures should troll at 12 knots. If your lure is kicking to one side or keeps coming to the surface, try tuning it or just replace it with a lure that hangs in.
I like to start with a few different lures so I can find out what they are biting on. For example, I will deploy a lure that dives to 2m along with one that dives to 8m. While I’m trolling, if I see the fish on the sounder sitting very deep I will put two deep diving lures on but in two different colours. If the one coloured lure keeps getting hit I will change the one not getting the bites to a similar colour to the one getting hit.
So where are the mackerel? That’s easy – they’re where all the boats are. It's not rocket science! Most keen mackerel anglers will be out before the sun rises, either floating their live baits or trolling just as the sun rises. You should also look out for birds, as they are your eyes in the sky. They will dive whenever a marauding school of mackerel or tuna has pushed a school of baitfish to the surface. Popular spots are around the leads at Burnett Heads close to the 2 Mile and the close-in rubble patches that hold bait schools.
Winter isn’t my favourite angling time of the year, but that’s only because I’m going soft and prefer heat to cold! The truth is that winter does offer some great fishing for those keen to rug up and get out there. I do love getting my family on the water chasing flathead, and right now there are lots of little guys around and they love eating trolled lures.Reads: 553