Look for the birds!
  |  First Published: February 2007

In the Whitsundays, seabirds can be found around all 74 islands. These birds are often the key to finding feeding pelagics. We recently had an awesome longtail and mackerel session while casting under the birds.

Finding birds

Finding feeding seabirds in the salt is quite simple. Stand on the highest point of your boat, and scan the horizon in a 360 motion. Keep looking until you find a flock and once you have found them, keep them close.

Often, slow, hovering seabirds feed on top of a patch of baitfish. If the baitfish are on the surface, it usually means predators are feeding on them underneath. White slashes and large swirls under the birds are exciting sights, especially on a slow fishing day.

What’s under the birds?

If you have found birds and predators in an area, try to see the size of the baitfish. Then, simply match the size of your lure to the baitfish. Too easy, but that’s just the first step.

The next challenge is getting your boat in the right position and using the right retrieval speed. Try to position your boat upwind of the school, as most predators feed into the wind. Then, fire a long cast onto the leading edge of the white slashes. Let it sink for 2 seconds and burn it as fast as you can!

All types of fun churning pelagics can show up underneath birds. Mack tuna, longtail tuna, mackerel, queenfish, GT and even sailfish! It’s a real tropical mixture sometimes.

Tackling Longies!

Without a doubt, longtail tuna are the most fun surface busting species to target. They will bust topwater lures off the surface, jolt your rod tip on the hit and fight your tight-drag furiously.

We use a Shimano Stella 2500 on a Shimano T-curve rod with 20lb Berkely Fireline with a double uni knot that joins the 60lb leader. Pumping and winding is the best way to get them in fast.

Recently, we spotted some longtails under some birds near Long Island in the Whitsundays. They were feeding on patches of small whitebait, so we cast small Gillies baitfish slices into the school.

Both lures got creamed as soon as they sank into the frenzy. A fun double hook-up battle was on! We loved every second of it, even if we were soaked in saltwater spray!

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