Well with the holiday period over and everyone back to work and school, the fish have finally had a chance to recover and in the next month we should start to see some great fishing to finish off the season.
Weather conditions of late have been all over the place, with great days for fishing as well as some horrendous ones. Heavy rain has made things a little difficult, but after such a long spell of dry weather, this rain can only help flush out the creeks and rivers.
Making the most of the incoming tides has been the best way to fish with the dirty water around; incoming tides bring in clean water and can often trigger the fish to bite. Anglers targeting bream around the Southern Bay islands have been enjoying great success with small soft plastic and hardbody lures. The incoming tide has been key, as well as finding suitable structure that holds the fish. Find rocky outcrops and weed flats with clean water pushing over them and the fish won’t be far off.
If bait fishing is your thing, don’t despair, these fish will respond just as well to a well-presented bait. Prawns, mullet and herring are a great option and always use the freshest bait you can get. It’s amazing how much of a difference it can make! Light line and little weight are equally important in the shallow water to achieve a natural presentation.
Some large snapper are being caught in the deeper water around Peel Island and Harry Atkinson Reef. Matching up the right tides and an early morning or late afternoon session will see you in contention for one of these prized fish. Bites for these guys are usually few and far between, so it pays to be ready and have the appropriate gear. I like to fish 20lb braid with leaders from 20-30lb, depending on the kind of structure below. When the water is dirty you can fish a bit heavier than normal, but usually 25lb is a happy medium. Soft plastics and large vibe lures have been the best options.
Mulloway are still around the artificial reefs, but the presence of sharks has made it near impossible to get them in. They can be very hard to get to bite as they are wary of the bities, and when you do manage to get a hookup, the sharks are straight onto them! Heavy line hasn’t helped either; the sharks always get the fish. If you find this happening to you, it’s best to move along. There’s no point constantly losing fish to the sharks, as they won’t be leaving if there’s an easy feed on offer.
In February we should hopefully see some better pelagic action. I’ve been waiting a while for them to show their presence in the Southern Bay, but it has been quiet so far. Reports of school mackerel are coming in, but the fish are few in number. Looking for schools of bait on the sounder has been the key. There have also been small schools of bonito and mac tuna between Peel Island and Harry Atkinson Reef. Nothing big, but they can be fun to catch and are also make great bait. Longtail tuna will be moving in soon, so fingers crossed we get a good run of them in the next few months as I’m sure we are all looking forward to screaming runs from these beasts.
Snapper should also still be around in good numbers. Being on the water just as the sun is rising will see better captures. I have been having some success fishing the reef edges of Peel Island, but once the sun is up it’s all over. The early bird gets the worm!
Brendan Whyte caught this great snapper on a soft plastic. Fish like this move through the Southern Bay area in summer, so now is a great time to target them.
Here’s an unusual capture for the Southern Bay — a tropical nannygai. Nick caught this fish on a Jackall Transam while targeting snapper. Gotta be happy with that!
The sad end result. James Howarth was lucky to get his lure back; usually they eat the lot.Reads: 632