Great time to be on the Bay
  |  First Published: February 2007

The tail end of the summer is a great time to be out on the bay. Often this is the best time of the year for chasing pelagics while further south among the islands, bream, jacks and summer whiting will all be active. On the coral reefs, sweetlip, snapper and parrot are on the chew.

From late December to early January there were excellent numbers of spotted mackerel in the southern bay. The fish have been turning up as far south as Macleay Island but Peel Island, Goat Island and the Rainbow Channel have been the hotspots. The quality of fish has been excellent with lots of 1m+ fish and a couple pushing 120cm. A few nice Spanish mackerel, longtail tuna and small cobia have come from the same bait schools as well but spotties are making up the lion’s share of the catch. Hopefully this is a sign that mackerel stocks have recovered since ring netting was banned a few years ago.

Casting a variety of sized metal slugs has been successful when mackerel are up on the surface, as have flies such as Eye Candies and Polar Fibre Minnows. Some days the flyfishers have had it all over the lures casters while on others a fast retrieved Sea Rock or Raider lure has been the best way to go. Try to keep a little distance between you and the school when you approach, as the boat will spook the fish when you get too close. There is nothing more frustrating for anglers patiently stalking a school of pelagics for someone to drive a boat straight into the middle of a bust-up and then wonder why the fish have vanished.

Also, when stalking pelagics I never turn the engine off as I think that the change in noise levels scares the fish far more than just idling. Likewise when approaching a school, I come off the plane and slowly back the revs off from a distance so that fish are less aware of the change in noise levels. If the fish are working scattered bait over a wide area, then I do tend to drift with the motor off and let the fish to come to me.

When the mackerel are scattered or boat traffic is keeping the fish down, slow trolling around bait schools with deep diving minnows like Lively Lure Mad Mullets and River2Sea Suspen Minnows can be effective. Another option is to drift lightly weighted pilchards down a berley trail. This method can account for some of the larger fish that cruise underneath the surface fish as well as a few scavengers like snapper, and cobia too.

Snapper are available right through out the bay at this time of the year, but the southern islands such as Coochiemudlo and Macleay can be particularly good. Bream, sweetlip, mangrove jack, cod and the odd trevally can also be caught in the shallows of the same islands, anywhere there is a bit of rock and coral. Early mornings or late evenings are the best times and all baits and lures can be used. When baitfishing the shallows, try to keep the weight as light as possible otherwise you can spend a fair amount of time re-rigging. Suspending baits under a float is another great way to go, especially with livies as it prevents them from swimming into the reef.

Until next month, tight lines, or for more information on the southern Moreton Bay area, come and see me at Fish Head (Cnr Broadwater Tce and Stradbroke St, Redland Bay, www.fishhead.com.au) or call us on (07) 3206 7999.

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