The offshore scene has been fairly consistent, but the wind has kept the smaller boats back in the calmer waters.
Most anglers heading offshore have been getting some decent cobia, and schools of half a dozen or so have often been showing up under boats. Terry Stevens from Akwa Marine even had one around 80lb eat a legal sized school mackerel boat side just after Chrissy. All caught on Go Pro, it should make for a great piece of footage!
A livey is irresistible for Cobes, and having a couple in the live well could pay off for when they show up, similarly, a Halco Whiptail Jig is a great tool to have at the ready. I didn’t have a 60g model with me the other day when the macks showed while I was chucking lures for golden snapper (fingermark). I won't be caught without one again.
Mackerel are still around in big numbers, and have been hanging deep, which is making it hard for anyone wanting to chase nannies or golden snapper with soft plastics. The only other option is a short piece of single strand wire, but the bite rate will usually drop considerably, and the choppers and reds don't take well to wire either. Looking for fish in shallower waters is about the only way to avoid the mackerel if they aren’t on the hit list.
Trolling the Crazy Deep Scorpion at 8m is another tactic that can turn the odds big time and trolling a ‘figure 8’ over a patch with a couple of these underrated lures often results in a mauling.
The shallower reefs are producing some nice fish, but if you can see the reef, and stealthy approach is needed to land quality fish. Having spot lock on the Minn Kota allows you to hold in the tide run a reasonable distance from a bommie or reef and work the lures much more precisely and slowly to get the bite without getting to close and shutting them down. It’s great fun to watch the fish smack the lure, and on calm days is really a spectacular way to spend a couple of hours.
Inshore, the jacks are still playing the game as ever, and some nice fish are being taken on both plastics and hardbody divers. Jacks and barra have been loving the new Laser Pro 3-hook, and this lure has gone through an overwhelming acceptance by lure casters, and the ‘king brown’ or gold colour are great options.
Soft presentations work well if you pick the right jighead, the new Seeker weedless hooks are an absolute winner for us in the North, but with a wide range of head weights and hook sizes, have got almost all of our weedless stuff covered.
If I had to pick just one plastic combination to fish the shallow drains and creeks, it would be the 5” Atomic Prong rigged on the mentioned Seeker hook. I have to admit to removing the screw in retainer and rigging it ‘old style’, but the 1/4oz weights a good all rounder.
As they say, almost everything eats a prawns, and the grunter have been going off over the last couple of weeks thanks to the big tides and some movement on the prawn scene. I witnessed something the other day that I have never seen before and that was schools of hundreds of grunter rounding up prawns to the surface and annihilating them like a school of trevally. All you had to do was get close to the bottom in just the 1.5m of water and twitch the lure and you were on! Not all were over legal size, but when you hooked a decent grunter on the ultra light stuff, it was great fun.
Once again, the Prong did the damage, but in the smallest size a 1/6oz head was perfect for the shallow water. A 6 kg leader was a great happy medium, but the barra, which were up to 85cm would scuff it up pretty badly. The barra were sitting under the grunter sucking in the prawns as well, and while we were amazed to see the size of the barra that ate the tiny Prongs, it was the grunter that were our target.
The other lure that attracted plenty of attention was the 3 ¼” paddle-tails, again from Atomic. The grunter are a fan of creek mouths on full moon and big tides, so a bit of a scan around before anchoring could be worth while if your going to soak a bait.
I have found it so easy to locate fish since I mounted the HDS Touch 7 that it almost seems unfair in comparison to the old sounder, but hey, call me a cheat if you like.
Snags, rock bars, reef, gutters and deep drains are such a breeze to locate, and amazingly many are only meters away from on my old tracks and I never new they were there! Admittedly, if I'm casting bank side structure I rarely look at the sounder, but for finding the deeper stuff for casting, side scan technology is just amazing.
If you know someone who has it in their boat, ask to go for a run with them, just to see what this stuff is about, and it will blow your mind.
• If your in the Townsville area, you can also call into the shop I work at in South Townsville called Akwa Marine at 16 Dean Street .Reads: 1320