The change of seasons has always been one of my favoured times to fish in Moreton Bay, and this month is shaping up to offer some great fishing. Coming off a lean month, things are looking to pick up on the pelagic front, which is news we have all been looking forward to!
Over the past few weeks, reports of sporadic schools of mackerel have been coming in, although here 1 day and gone the next has been the general story. Those that are putting in the time have been reaping the rewards though, and I have been hearing of spotties showing up in the Southern Bay through February, so if all goes well we should see a good run of them through March. Finding schools of bait around Harry Atkinson Artificial Reef, Peel Island and the Sandhills at Moreton will put you in with a shot. Keep an eye on the sounder and be on the lookout for birds diving.
Bream fishing has been uncharacteristically slow for this time of year. A recent bream tournament yielded very small bags of fish, which can largely be attributed to the recent rain. The fish are still there, you may just need to put in a bit more effort to get the rewards. Spots worth trying are South West Rocks at Peel Island, Coochiemudlo Island shallows and the Cleveland Point foreshore. Raby Bay canals are also a good option and can usually produce some good sized bream, with the added by catch of mangrove jacks and trevally.
Snapper are still a worthwhile option. The size has been low, but numbers have made up for it, with plenty of pan sized squire around. In the past, this time of the year has been when I catch some of my biggest reds, so hopefully we will see some bigger fish in the next month.
Mulloway have really slowed, but there are still a few small schools around if you spend the time searching. Peel Island Artificial Reef has been the pick, which in recent times has really become a great mulloway spot.
One thing I’m really excited about is longtail tuna finally making their way into Moreton Bay. I’m hearing about more and more captures of these speed machines in the Southern Bay area. There is a massive amount of bait around at the moment, so we can only hope that the tuna get stuck into them soon. Some of the better locations to look are around the eastern side of Peel Island as well as Goat Island. The tuna will often push bait up against the sandbanks, so keep your eyes peeled for any surface activity and watch the birds.
Tuna fishing can be frustrating, and I have had many sessions where I have spent hours chasing them around in circles, throwing every lure in my boat at them for no luck. Patience is paramount and keeping calm when you start to see the big surface explosions is a must. Always pull up a decent distance from the school and drift or wait for them to come to you. Racing up to the schools with the motor running will scare them off 99 per cent of the time. Watch the direction that they are moving in and position yourself ahead of them to give yourself a great shot at getting a cast in.
Ideal lures for these situations are ones that you can cast far and wind in with some speed. I like throwing 5” Z-Man StreakZ in the Pink Bubble Gum colour, matched to a ½oz jighead. Large surface stickbaits are also a great option and provide for some exciting visual fishing.
So in March look to the skies and keep an eye out for the birds. Surface activity should pick up, with some exciting times ahead. Remember to be courteous to other anglers out chasing the same schools; there’s plenty to go around and keeping a safe distance away from other boats will keep everyone happy.
Chris Cornell with a cracker longtail tuna he stickbaited in Moreton Bay.
Bilal Sabdia with his first school mulloway, caught on a 3” Z-Man MinnowZ soft plastic.Reads: 465