Get ready for the mack attack
  |  First Published: February 2007

I’m currently up at Hinchinbrook and just back from a fantastic session on barra. My mate Carl Stokes (who owns the restaurant in Cardwell and the steak is highly recommended – Ed) and I were fishing a snag in the Channel when editor Steve Booth called me looking for my story. Just as I answered the phone Carl hooked and landed our first barra of the afternoon and after a quick chat with Steve the phone ‘dropped out’, and both Carl and I commented on how inconsiderate Boothy was to interrupt our fishing!

The fishing really turned on for us that afternoon and over the next few hours we caught and released nearly 40 barra on soft plastics and PrawnStar lures. Most of the barra were 50-75cm but we did get blown away a few times by bigger fish on the light plastic rods we were using.

Nearly all the fish hit the lures on the drop back and within a metre of the snags. Carl was using 5” Berkley Gulp Minnows and I was playing around with PrawnStars and 4” Tsunami Swirl Tails with a black back.

Soon we’ll be heading back up the channel, with the ladies in tow to see if we can get them onto a barra or five.


Before I headed north, amberjack and pearl perch were making up the bulk of the catch on the bottom while wahoo and small black marlin were hitting plenty of lures on the surface. All the usual haunts producing fish and on some days the little black marlin easily outnumbered the wahoo. Most of the blacks were 20-50kg and the wahoo have been around 10kg with the odd larger beastie thrown in to keep things interesting.

The next few months will see mackerel and wahoo increase in size and number and it’s a great time of year to fish if you’re into trolling.

This month I’ll be focussing on the shallow coffee rock reefs in front of Moreton Island. I chase my mackerel with live baits, but quality live bait is sometimes hard to find so at times you have to do a few extra kilometres to get the better bait. Of late bait has been patchy in close and I’ve been jigging most of mine in 50-60m. The slimies have been XOS and made all the difference when we’ve been targeting amberjack.

The bait ground a couple of kilometres north of the northern entrance of the South Passage Bar cops a fair bit of pressure, especially on weekends, and the bait schools will hug the bottom and not take jigs so don’t waste time there and look elsewhere.

There’s usually bait available closer in on the coffee rock along Moreton Island and also out on the 29s. In the deeper water you’ll need heavier mono on your bait jigs and stronger hooks as the baits are usually larger and quite often you’ll be pulling up full houses, which the lighter jigs can’t handle.

Putting in the little bit of extra effort to get better quality livies results in better catches at the end of the day.

There has been a lot of pelagic activity from the Sunshine Coast through to the border and the next couple of months should see the pelagics really turn it on as the water warms.

For the bottom fishing, the strong north-south currents this time of year make it tough to snare a feed of reefies, but amberjack and pearlies are still an option, current permitting, on baits and jigs. I’ve also had some of my biggest knobbies caught at this time of year, so if you’re prepared to put in the time to target them you might be lucky and boat one or two XOS snapper per session.

Until next month take care on the coastal bars.

If you’d like to join me on a charter (max 4 persons) give me a call at Outlaw Charters on (07) 3822 9527 or 0418 738 750.

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