Some good rain and a relentless breeze managed to keep small boat fishers out of the Bay in January. Now that these conditions have abated small boat anglers can finally fish somewhere aside from the rivers.
Good pelagics are being caught in the northern bay around most inshore reef systems and channels. Small schools of bonito are following the clean water into the Bay as the tide comes in. Usually the bigger the tides, the closer in they come. These feisty little blokes are greedy feeders and can be approached fairly easily. They’re a great target for flyfishers and ultra-light spin fishers, but your lure needs to be much smaller than the standard longtail ones. Longtail tuna are lurking amongst the schools so don’t be surprised if you get smashed up.
There are more school and spotted mackerel around than in previous years. This is definitely due to the cooler waters in close as the southeasterly winds stop the water from getting too hot. I think that mackerel feed into the wind and this stops them from bypassing the bay. Pillies drifted down varying depths have been the number one bait. I haven’t heard any beacon bashing catch reports but this technique should produce good catches in February.
Live baiting with small to medium-sized herring is one of my favourite ways to fish. Soft plastics are also a good way to target mackerel but be prepared to lose a few. I lost a large number of plastics on my last trip out in the channel. I’m certain that it was the razor gang as the plastics were being hit on the retrieve back to the boat at mid water. I didn’t have any wire on board so all we could do was grin and bear it.
The channels in the Bay have been fishing really well for reef fish. Plenty of tiny squire have been hitting the baits but so far there has been no sign of snapper. Gold-spot cod have been fishing very well lately with fish to 8kg being taken on drifts over the coffee rocks.
I took my mate Dan out for a quick trip to the channel recently and we had a ball fishing with soft plastics. We used 3” Minnow Gulps on 1oz TT jigheads and 20lb braid and it was the best trip I have had in the area.
After several drifts we figured out where the fish were holding up and what our direction the drift was going (thanks to the GPS). It seemed that the fish weren’t in very deep water and were actually sitting behind the sand bar, waiting for small baitfish to be washed over the top. Dan hooked a nice 6.5kg gold-spot – a great start to the morning.
We drifted our pattern a few more times and scored one smaller gold-spot and plenty of tiddlers.
We decided to head further out and the weather was getting better as the tide ebbed. So we moved to my next mark on the GPS and on our first drift I nailed a nice 1.5kg cod. The second drift resulted in a 1.5kg slatey bream for Dan. Then we had several drifts but no results. On our sixth drift Dan hooked another fish that tested his outfit. We tried to guess what he had hooked and calls of tricky snapper, cod and even tuna were made until a solid slatey bream (the biggest I have seen taken from the Bay) surfaced. This topped off the morning and the esky was looking the healthiest that it has for quite some time. This trip shows that the Bay can still produce some great results when the time is right.
The wide grounds to the 50m mark have been unusually slow for reef fishing. I think that the better snapper have opted for the deep reef systems around the 100m mark. The pelagics have been trolling well with wahoo still the star attraction. The sunny days have restricted the fishing to the mornings and afternoons as the fish move into the deeper part of the water column. They can still be targeted during the day with the use of a downrigger trolled past prominent pinnacles and drop-offs. By the end of the month the Spanish mackerel will start to come on the chew around the coffee rock out from Moreton Island. Some nice fish are being trolled up from the northern Sunshine Coast and it won’t be long until they begin terrorising our neck of the woods, especially if the temperature remains below the low 30s.
Enjoy fishing this month, as it is the most productive month for summer fishing. Keep the emails coming.Reads: 1451