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Go shallow before winter sets in
  |  First Published: March 2016



Now that the year is well and truly in full swing and the holidays are done and dusted, the fish have had a bit of peace and quiet!

The mackerel mayhem that was prolific through the summer has started to slow, with only small schools showing their faces. They were really out in force over the past few months with some truly massive schools terrorizing the Moreton Bay baitfish population!

Snapper

After what has been a relatively slow summer for snapper, there has been some good fish caught over the past month, which should carry on through into March. The bigger fish, as usual, have been coming from deeper water with Harry Atkinson Artificial and Peel Island Artificial reefs being the common suspects.

The bigger fish have been falling victim to soft plastics and blades fished tight to the bottom. If you’re after quantity (and a lot of fun) I have been spending a bit of time targeting the snapper and grassy sweetlip in the shallow water. While we have lost more than we would have liked, it is seriously good fun and a great way to pick up a feed of fish. Just look for an area with shallow reef, (if you can see the bottom, you’re in the right spot) and position the boat so that you can get a good drift. I like using lightly weighted soft plastics in the 2-3” size.

Drift with the wind and use it to help cast as far as possible. The fish in the shallows are very spooky, so trying to get your lure as far away from the boat as possible can increase your chances. The most important part of the retrieve is the initial sink, as this is when the majority of the bites will come, so you need to be very attentive to watch for the take. If that doesn’t work, I like to work the lure erratically with some fast twitches followed by a slow sink. Again, most bites will come as the lure is dropping.

Hooking the fish is the easy part, landing them is a different story! It’s a tight trade-off between fishing light line to get the bites, and heavy line to land the fish. All I do is just wind as fast as I can and try to keep the fish off the reef!

MUlloway

As it is with this time of the year, the mulloway are quite sporadic. There have been a few caught over the last month, but not with any great regularity. I have noticed from previous experience that at this time of the year they tend to move very quickly. Quite often you can see them on the sounder and then as soon as you get in position to cast, they are gone.

If you are determined to catch one, the Peel Island artificial is the best bet. I have seen schools here over the past month, but catching them is another story! Try to use heavier lures such as micro-jigs in the 30-40g range, as these will get down to the fish quicker and help you put it in front of their face before they move on!

Bream

The bream around the Bay Islands have been plentiful over the past month. There have been plenty of good reports rolling in of hungry bream swarming the shallows and it doesn’t seem to matter what lure or bait you are throwing! Crankbaits, soft plastics and surface lures are all claiming their fair share.

The biggest key is to target the shallows that have some wind on them. The rippled water provides cover for the fish and makes them feed far more aggressively. The wind will also help you put out long casts to cover more water. Finding structure such as weed beds or mangroves will also put you in the right areas. They are a great option when the weather isn’t so nice to venture out far!

Get out and into them if you get the chance, I always find that winter tends to slow things down a bit in the Southern Bay. One thing to note is that there are a lot of longtail tuna in the northern bay, fingers-crossed they move in the southern bay soon. As always, if you have a picture or a report you would like to share, send it through to --e-mail address hidden-- and I will do my best to get in in the magazine!

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