Fill the freezer fishing
  |  First Published: August 2016

Tailor turned up again this year after a brief time off. For whatever reason, they show up one year and not the next.

Up north, we’ve caught them at places like Five Rocks, Corio Heads, Bangalee and Farnborough Reef. The southern end is better at Quartz Rock, Mother Macgregor and Wedge. Tailor hit the back of Curtis Island at various locations, including Cape Capricorn and Rundles Beach. They are one of the best Spanish mackerel troll baits this time of year.

Often we’ve arrived at Bustard Heads while boats are towing gar and slaying Spanish mackerel. Once we set a couple of big tailor into the troll pattern, all other baits shut down. One of the pros there even asked if he could buy any tailor once we bagged out on mackerel. We don’t get large schools like down the coast, but we’ve worked out that they like small mackerel, bonito and mac tuna. They follow schools of small white baits.

Small flashers do the damage, but you have to fight your way past the ribbonfish and smaller mackies to get them. Floating pillies will work well. Sometimes, chasing blue salmon up the end of Farnborough Beach, you’ll end up with a tailor caught on pillies with them. Now’s the time to fill the bait freezer!

This year could be better for numbers, as the bay has cleared right up without the floods of previous years. Smaller mackerel do the swap around now, when ‘doggies’ (school mackerel) move out and spotties move in. There are still ‘dogs’ and greys about at the moment, so any time the wind drops, give them a crack at the regular spots in the bay. Spanish numbers will increase over this month, even though the year’s brilliant already. Catches have been reported from nearly all the usual spots around the islands, and the headlands to the north. The biggest Spaniards have been at the wider grounds.

Red emperor, snapper and most of the popular reefies remain on the chew over winter. The big saddletail snapper have moved into closer spots, and recently great fish were scored close behind the islands, and up the coast. The smaller tides were best, as long as there was movement. There has been a welcome by-catch of golden snapper in some of the catches. Bluespotted coral trout are moving into shallower reefs, over the next month. End of July is the best time to get them without much travel. Bar cheek are abundant around the Keppels, and the clear cooler water brings them into shallow water.

Blue salmon numbers continue to rise in local catches, from up in the town reaches of the river and along the beaches into army country. Yabbies, whiting fillets, greenback herrings and pilchards can all attract salmon, but plastics and vibes also account for much of the catch.

Numbers of king salmon have dropped off substantially. They’ve spread over a much wider area, down the Fitzroy River. Twenty or more catches in a session have been reduced to ones and twos. Plastic vibes are still the weapon of choice among regulars, and other plastics like swimmers or paddle-tails work well too. Many jetty fishers use livies for fairly good results. When the prawns are on, it’s not long before salmon will smash them.

Bream are the most common winter species, going strong and the local ethic (only take a feed) should keep them in good numbers. One of the local places, Keppel Bay Sportfishing Club, held their annual ‘Corio Classic”’last week. The competition involved a photo and release to highlight local species. A large majority of anglers fishing the competition averaged over 300mm per fish. The winning length for three fish was easily over a metre. The competition proved that bait and lures were equally effective catching bream. In fact, the biggest bream total was won on lures.

Prime spots at present are the local headlands, especially those close to the mouth of a creek where big fish go in with the tide, and return to shelter on the run-out. These include Rosslyn Bay Harbour, Corio Bay, Coorooman Creek, Ross Creek, Port Alma and The Narrows. The best local winter species is whiting, with plenty of fish around the 35-40cm mark in the creeks. Coorooman Creek has lots of yabby beds and the sandbanks around the mouth are local favourites. Rundles and Long beaches, in the Fitzroy delta, are great spots for large whiting schools, most of the time.

Corio Bay and Water Park have their share of whiting, as do all the beaches of the Cap Coast. There are yabby beds in most of the creeks where the whiting will be most active. Pump yabbies on the last of the run-out and use them in the same spot on the run-in. The disturbance will act like berley and bring the whiting to your feet.

The beaches in Yeppoon north have worms and further from town is better. Nine Mile and Three Rivers beaches have loads of worms, if you want the best bait available. These spots are home to the biggest whiting in the area, because of the worms. We’ve caught a few whiting on plastics recently. The smaller size Squidgy Wild prawn works wonders.

Despite cold temperatures, barramundi are thriving. There are some landed even on those cold mornings. Lures and baits are doing equally well, although the headlands fishers get better results on live bait. The town reaches between the bridges continue to amaze. Fish are caught and released every day, and don’t appear to be phased by the attention.

Grunter are another favourite species for CQ residents, currently spread out in the area. Both inside and outside grunter are available, depending on the conditions and moon phase. Black jewfish are the same, and either side of the moon is best for the offshore fish, but not as important for the estuary grunter. Black jewfish are still on the menu at Corio heads, Ironpot, Rita Mada, The Pinnacles and Double Heads. Live bait and dead bait both catch these fish and lately, they’re in form.╩

1 Will Laurence caught this barra off the beach at Keppel Sands.

2 Sophie Robertson landed this fine bream at Coorooman Creek.

3 Craig Robertson with an awesome Cap Coast bream.


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