Start peppering the snags
  |  First Published: September 2015

It’s been pretty awesome to watch the species range and size increase over the last two weeks, and there are quality fish showing up every where from the smallest drains to the furthest reefs. The bay has also been turning up a few surprises, and casting the reef has accounted for many species from tuskies to trout of all sizes.

Actually, just last week I saw the biggest bluey I’ve ever seen around here. I was in less than a meter of water and making my way onto a flat as the tide built and the big bugger came into view. I stood motionless on the casting deck and watched as it casually finned away only about 2m in front of the bow. Obviously, it wouldn’t look at my hardbody as I twitched it just centimetres from its nose, but the sight the thing was enough to get the heart racing.

Up until the last full moon the fingermark (golden snapper) were going off with the 70cm mark being the average. Soft plastics and soft vibes are a great lure in the sub 60ft mark, and gar the number one live bait. I have to admit to being a bit partial to gar when it comes to fingermark, and even though I never really chase them on baits these days, they were my favourite livey for them even over squid, particularly in the shallower areas.

Spanish of all sizes are a real talking point at the moment, and are being taken with every technique, but both down rigging and skipping gar seem to be a real winner. If you have a downrigger and can even roughly rig a gar, you should be in with a show. Wolfies are the gun bit for the bigger Spanish, and whether you rig them with trebles or linked 9/0 VMCs, you should have no problems bending a rod on a Spanish. As usual, Lindsay Dobe, manager of the Prossy Akwa Pro Tackle and well renowned barra guiding service Lake Proserpine Fishing Charters, defied the odds once again and landed a landed a marlin on a little wolfie the other day while chasing mackerel.

Marlin numbers are still on the rise, and there are some better days happening for some of the fanatics, but it is pretty much a matter of covering water at this time, more so than targeting one particular area holding bait. Apparently they are mixed in with the Spanish schools and it’s anyone’s guess as to what’s going to grab your bait next.

Jigging the reefs has delivered some hectic sessions for offshore anglers, and the large mouth nannies are putting a bend in plenty of rods if you can beat the sharks. It seems that the gar slabs are once again the gun bait for this as well, and I’m not sure what it is that has every one using the gar for baits, but one things for sure, it’s working. It could be the fact that gar have a very unique and strong smell to them, or maybe just that there are more people using them now, but either way, we are selling more gar fillet packs than ever before. Jigs and plastics are accounting for plenty of fish for those who are more into lures, and the Squidvicious and Nemesis Gulps are catching lots of reds on the reefs and wrecks.

If you have never tried them before, the Bassman Mumblers are worth having on hand, and apart from the reds and fingermark that are common on these hyperactive lures, the cobia are grabbing them when they are worked down deep, plus when they unexpectedly pop up beside the boat. We have had an influx of people grabbing he last of the spinnerbait arms as well, and as the warms that little bit more, it seems that the lures with a bit of extra action and flash are working a treat.

The rivers and drains have been turning up heaps of fish, and the grunter are on the move in reasonable numbers. Sizes have been mixed, and fish of between 45-65 can be caught from the one school.

Casting lures for barra will definitely be an option, particularly a little towards the end of the month, and the bigger tides are bringing with them schools of barra that make their way up onto the flats as the water warms. If there is no wind chill factor, the fish will chase the tide all the way to the mangroves and then hunt just under the flooded branches.

Lure size, depth and action will be dictated by where the fish are sitting once the water reaches the mangrove line, and if the barra are hunting deeper on the trunks, I find that the 105 Halco Hamma is the best option with its strong action at very slow speeds. If the fish are suspended or hunting just under the flooded green branches then the Laser Pro 120 three hooker, gently tweaked around the foliage is even better. Try winding the Hammas down just out of sight next to the thicker branches and trunks on the last of the run-in before imparting a twitch or two to get a reaction.

Around a half an hour or so either side of the tide change is Laser Pro time, and tweaking them with a little slack in between has been getting them engulfed and give some awesome visual strikes. Having a little slack in between twitches allows the lure to go backwards and straight down the hatch when the bite comes, and sometimes all that can be seen protruding from their gob is the bib of the lure.

You should get between two and three hours of casting the flooded mangroves, to pepper the snags before having to retreat with the tide. A good safety gauge is to use the electric to determine when to bail, and as soon as you find the blade of your Minn Kota hitting the mud, it’s time to bail, or you risk being stranded high and dry until the next high.

Casting the snags at the moment is far from boring, and the other species that are getting in on the action are salmon, GTs, queenies, barracuda and the dreaded catfish, but they all put a bend in your rod, so don’t be disappointed with the mixed bag.

I went for a few hours the other day and landed about 10 barra, and got smoked three times, so when the tides are right it’s pretty exciting. On the smaller tides, the same lures are working further upsteam, and in the holes found near river mouths.

I’m happy to report that the bread and butter species are going well, and fresh baits and live yabbies are catching plenty of quality fish on the flats near drains and river mouths on the run-out. With the weather set to hopefully improve over the next month, there should be no reason why you should be left sitting in front of the TV wishin’ you were fishin’.

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