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Offshore in full swing
  |  First Published: December 2015



Finesse fishing is quite often needed throughout December. Conditions in the estuaries can become a touch lethargic at times with hot weather and large tides making everything but the mozzies difficult to catch. Good bites will usually be in the few hours around sunrise and the hour of sunset. Offshore however, the fishing can be in full swing.

Fishing soft plastics when targeting offshore reef fish and a range of pelagics can be just as rewarding as trolling lures all day. With such a vast range of swimming forgeries matched to an awesome range of jigheads, the sky’s the limit out on the reefs. Having a boat set up that allows the easy working of plastics and quick and efficient manoeuvring to GPS marks is essential.

It is rare that the anchor is thrown out with this type of fishing. Rather the use of sounders and extremely accurate GPS allows anglers to drift over bait and structure time and time again. Sinking plastics to whatever depth the life is showing on the sounder.

It also allows the chance to sink other profiles in front of fish rather than just baitfish. These days a huge range of prawn, worm and mantis shrimp patterns compete with almost any other thing a soft plastic can replicate.

A form of fishing that has become vastly more popular over the past 10 years has been the use of soft plastics over shallow shoal ground. On the East Coast, with the multitude of reefs in the far northern section, it can be hard to know where to start. Finding an isolated of detached pieceof reef can be a good beginning. Fishing depths from about 20-60ft where bait is holding with heavier jigheads has become a popular way to fish.

Great captures of tasty fish have become the norm for anglers who are in the know. Basically, all the trevally, tuna and mackerel species will have a crack at a soft plastic. Speedsters love them fished fast and with the flexibility of a spinning outfit, jigged erratically back to the boat.

Deeper reefs, shoals, pinnacles, rocks and bommies can be worked over effectively with a soft plastic presentation. Attempt to drop them back on the up-current side of structure. Quite often, fish will be holding suspended in the current, fins undulating, in packs of similar size. This creates a tense environment when something is flashed past their eyes and competition often ensues, with fish doing battle for a prize just so they don’t miss out. A situation every angler loves.

With the range of inbuilt scents and fish attracting pheromones available by different companies, anglers are spoilt for choice. However, regardless of which soft plastics work better than others, the whole marketplace keeps evolving. Anglers who traditionally only fished bait get quickly converted when they see a few anglers next to them casting repeatedly and getting plentiful rod-bending strikes.

The reefy East Coast of Cape York is an anglers paradise in December. Full doldrums provide the ultimate means to escape the inner reefs and explore a little farther afield. Remote islands, cays and reefs are made very easy to reach in slick-calm conditions.

Charter vessel Elizabeth EII just completed an exploratory trip of the far northern section, being rewarded with brilliant reef fishing, diving and trolling. Calm conditions and fish biting their heads off was the order of the day.

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