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Big winter bream reward an early start
  |  First Published: June 2016



If you hate the cold like I do, then June will require a lot of warm clothing and a decent incentive to get you out onto the water. However, with species such as tailor, bream, snapper, squid, mulloway and many more on offer, anglers shouldn’t need to think twice about trying their luck. Early morning rises and sojourns at night generally reward anglers with quality captures. Let’s look a little closer at some of your June options.

SQUID

These tasty cephalopods have been around for a month or so now, however as the inshore waters begin to clear (generally aided by westerly winds), a larger proportion of squid will be found in the shallows around the mainland foreshore, canals, harbours and bay islands. Land-based anglers have plenty of opportunity to target squid in the shallows of areas such as Scarborough, Wynnum, Wellington Point, Victoria Point and numerous others.

At night, squid close to the surface are easily spotted using high-powered headlamps and torches. These squid can be targeted with an egi (prawn shaped squid jig). They commonly respond to this approach as they lurk in these areas to hunt prawns, baitfish and other morsels. However in some of the more heavily worked over areas, squid can become rather cautious, requiring several egi changes before you get a response, if at all. During daylight hours, squid can usually be sighted in the shallows in fairly clear water conditions. Again, an egi is generally the best way to tempt them.

Out in the bay squid can be found around the bay island shallows, the weed beds along the western side of Moreton, and in the channels between the major banks systems and most shallow areas where clean water flows over reef, rock rubble or weed. Apart from egi, anglers can employ a baited squid skewer either cast or drifted. These metal spikes, with rows of barbs at the rear, are generally suspended beneath a float and baited with a whole pilchard or other fish. When the squid grabs the bait the tentacles are soon impaled on the rows of chemically sharpened barbs as it tries to drag the bait away against the resistance. Once you see your float moving away or being pulled below the surface, you need to raise your rod tip into a fighting curve and wind slowly to secure your prize. Often a baited squid skewer or egi drifted behind the boat whilst fishing around the bay islands or in the Sand Hills area will reward you with a few tasty squid for a calamari feast.

MULLOWAY

Already there have been some excellent mulloway secured from areas such as the Brisbane River, Harry Atkinson Artificial Reef, Peel Artificial, Logan River, around the Jumpinpin area, Bribie Bridge area, plus numerous wrecks and other estuarine systems. Mulloway come to inshore areas such as the rivers and estuaries during the cooler months to spawn. This offers great opportunity for anglers fishing both lures and baits. While mulloway are a good table fish, it is best to release the larger specimens early in the season to ensure that they breed. Mulloway are more commonly taken in deeper channels and holes, along the edges of prominent ledges and submerged structure, as well as adjacent to artificial structures such as bridge pylons and jetties.

At night they can often be located in areas where lights shine on the water. These areas attract baitfish and don’t go unnoticed by mulloway and other species such as threadfin, tailor, trevally, tarpon and others. Casting lures around likely mulloway haunts can be a very successful way to target them. Soft plastics, vibration baits and minnow lures can all be used successfully, although there is a huge array of offerings that can work. Quality sounders can short-track your mulloway search allowing you to scour the edges of channels, riverbanks and deep holes. From here it is often just a case of putting a lure in front of them and waiting for the stretch.

For those who fish with bait, live offerings works well on mulloway, especially the larger specimens over 1m in length. Big baits produce big mulloway and hard-core anglers will commonly deploy large mullet, squid, yakkas, slimy mackerel, pike and tailor (legal size) in their quest. These are often fished in deeper holes and areas with current altering structure in periods around tide changes. Usually you will need to let the mulloway mouth the bait for a bit and permit it to begin swimming away before striking hard to set the hooks.

TAILOR

Quite a few solid tailor to over 55cm in length have been caught in the Brisbane River in recent weeks. These have mainly been taken around lighted areas at night (including the Gateway Bridge), along the sunken wall and around the shipping terminals. The average tailor has been around 45cm, which is a decent fish. Many of these have been caught on lures targeted at other species, but in most cases they have been a welcome by-catch. Many of these areas can be fished land-based, however other locations throughout the area such as the Manly Harbour Wall, Woody Point Jetty, Scarborough Jetty, Amity Rock Wall, Sandgate Jetty, Victoria Point Jetty and several other locations can also produce.

Anglers commonly fish these areas with whole fish baits such as hardiheads, pilchards, frogmouths, herring and whitebait although they are also caught with lures from land-based locations. Tailor are quite aggressive predators and will smash a broad array of artificial offerings. Some of the more exciting ways to tempt them, especially when they are feeding close to the surface, is with poppers, stickbaits and other topwater offerings. The follows, repetitive surface strikes and hook-ups provide memorable sessions. Small chromed slices and blades as well as a broad array of plastics and minnow lures are also readily used. Beach fishers will probably achieve the best results on pilchards, salted bonito strips, mullet fillets and gar cast out into the gutters, especially around dawn, late afternoon and into the evening. Many of the trophy class greenbacks are taken late at night around the high tides by anglers who put in the hours to soak baits in prominent gutters.

Lure fishing for tailor in the surf is increasing in popularity. Historically anglers have used metal slices and pencil poppers for surf tailor, and although these are still productive more anglers are experimenting with stickbaits, weighted casting minnows, sliders and plastics. In addition to tailor, species such as Spanish mackerel, trevally, kingfish and tuna are also occasionally taken in the surf on artificials.

SNAPPER

Everyone’s favourite bay target, snapper will be a prime catch through June as cooling water temperatures increase their activity. The margins around the bay islands, the artificial reefs and numerous wrecks, ledges and rubble grounds around the bay will all produce quality snapper for anglers over the next few months. Plenty of quality eating-sized snapper between 40-60cm will be caught, as well as a few of the trophy fish over 90cm in length. I like to use soft vibration baits in the areas where I target snapper and currently favour the Samaki 100mm Thumpertails, however there are plenty of good ones available these days. Soft plastics offer plenty of variety for anglers who target snapper and are a good option for those making their first foray into the lure fishing arena for reds. Slow retrieves are vital most of the time when chasing snapper on plastics and vibes, especially when working over the bay island margins and artificial reefs. Minnow lures are becoming an increasingly popular way to score a few snapper and these allow anglers to cover lots of ground in their search. Generally deep diving lures are required, especially those that can reach depths between 4-7m, as you commonly need to work the lowest third of the water column.

While early morning sojourns can pay dividends while chasing bay snapper, it’s not essential to be out at the crack of dawn! I have caught some of my best snapper in the middle of the day and during other periods when boat traffic is minimised. The lure fishers will often get the best results when the current is raging. Bait fishers generally get their bites as the current subsides and their baits sink to the bottom instead of spinning in the current. Snapper will engulf a broad array of baits and recent popular offerings have included squid, pilchards, large banana prawns, fillet baits, hardiheads, gar and tuna strips. When fished lightly weighted, these baits can really produce the goods on snapper, sweetlip, tuskfish and many other species.

Snapper will roam a lot around the bay island margins and often it is more important to be stealthy than to have any particular lure or bait on the end of your line. Long drifts allow you to cover plenty of area while venturing within casting reach of prominent underwater structures. Snapper, especially the better specimens, commonly wander these grounds so you don’t need to be bang on top of one particular area.

BREAM

Bream numbers are on the increase during June and anglers will notice a numbers of large specimens encountered. While larger bream are sometimes caught on pretty crude tackle and rigs, finesse rigging with light fluorocarbon leaders will generally increase your chances. Bream can readily be found in the estuaries, canals, bay island shallows and beach areas. The larger snowies (big, lightly coloured surf bream) are a prized capture for those fishing the gutters of Stradbroke, Bribie and Moreton Islands. Quality baits such as beach worms, pipis, fillet pieces, fresh squid and green prawn chunks considerably increase your chances of encountering good specimens.

Quality baits like these produce in many bream arenas. Although finesse rigging can increase your chances of catching larger and more cautious specimens, large bream are sometimes caught on the simplest rigs by inexperienced anglers. The rivers, estuaries and canals incur a large influx of bream during the cooler months. With water temperatures a degree or two higher on average in the lead up to the June, the main run is likely to be a little later this year. However, anglers who target bream during June will still see a decent number of quality bream engulf their baits and hit lures. In the artificials department, bream will respond to a broad array of offerings including blades, soft plastics, minnow lures and topwater offerings, just to name a few. Small flies such as Crazy Charlies, Ultra Shrimps, Homer Shrimpsons, Bonefish Candies and Christmas Island Specials will all work a treat in the hands of decent flycasters. The shallows of the bay islands and Scarborough Reef can often produce some quality bream action. Due to the clear water conditions, anglers regularly witness a large number of the strikes. Land-based sessions can be quite rewarding, with fish taken from the foreshore shallows, along rock walls, in the canals and adjacent to artificial structures such as bridge pylons and pontoons. Set up a small backpack, sling back, chest pack or bum bag with all the requirements for land-based luring and you will be mobile and prepared (see my article in the May edition of QFM for more on setting up for this form of fishing). Many land-locked lakes will also produce some cracking bream and bit of investigation via Google Earth may yield some honey-holes for you to explore.

CONCLUSION

These are just a few of the species that anglers can expect to encounter readily through June and the coming months. Threadfin salmon will continue to be abundant in the Brisbane River, although the cooler months often see better action further upriver. Sweetlip, the occasional mackerel, tuskfish, morwong, whiting, yellowtail kingfish and numerous others will be encountered in Moreton Bay. The estuaries will produce trevally, tarpon, flathead, cod and several other species for anglers plying their trade with baits and lures. Although the cold conditions can deter anglers from venturing out during June, many species of fish just love the cooler surrounds and are in fact more prolific and active than at other times of the year.

Fill up the thermos, don a beanie plus some warm clothes and warm up your casting finger as the fishing is well worth the effort during June.

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