The cold weather has well and truly arrived and anglers will need a little more incentive to brave the chill. Luckily there are some pretty exciting angling targets to encourage anglers to don a beanie, throw on a coat and tracky daks and then pour a flask of coffee before heading out.
Early mornings, evenings and night time sojourns will produce some of the coolest conditions and offer some of the hottest fishing action. No matter whether you are targeting snapper, squid, mulloway, luderick or tailor, June has numbers of these on offer as well as plenty more piscatorial possibilities. Let’s check them out.
Good rains early in April gave a healthy flush to many of the estuarine systems. This nutrient input promotes healthy baitfish populations, which in turn attracts larger predators. If previous years are worth basing assumptions on, the Brisbane River and many estuarine areas should produce some quality tailor during June. These will be taken from along the retaining wall at the mouth, around the Gateway Bridge, and adjacent to any lighted areas at night.
The size of these fish is often surprising and specimens to over 60cm can be encountered. However I find they are commonly between 40cm and 45cm, which are still quality fish. Tailor are ravenous feeders and will attack a decent array of whole fish baits and a broad array of lures.
Casting lures around lighted areas such as bridges, jetties and other structures during the darkened hours will produce some of the best opportunities. Soft plastic shads, vibration baits (hard and soft), metal blades, minnow lures and a broad array of others will be attacked with gusto.
If they are hesitant to strike, an increase in retrieve speed will generally excite them into attacking. Throughout the estuarine system, tailor can be located in a broad array of locations from the shallow flats to the deep channels. Find the bait conglomerations and the tailor will not be far away. We may see some action on the beaches, however this is more likely towards the latter part of winter.
Everyone’s favourite cold weather target, snapper will increase in numbers and average size over the coming weeks. Although they are around in reasonable numbers all year, it has been a decent start to the main snapper season with an increased number of quality specimens taken. Many of the larger specimens taken in the bay have come inshore from deeper water and are often a little darker and more nuggetty in structure than the resident bay fish. These are often a little easier to tempt as well and will respond to all the usual techniques employed in the bay.
Quality baits rarely go unnoticed by good snapper. Fresh offerings such as tuna strips, fillets of bonito, mullet, pike, gar and yakkas, large banana prawns, whole winter whiting, herring and squid will all tempt even the most fussy snapper. The humble frozen pillie and other thawed offerings are still worth using if you can’t source any fresh bait. Salted pilchards and salted fillet strips are well worth using as the salting will toughen the bait and seal in the flavour.
Baits should always be fished with a minimum of lead and hooks well placed so they are not too obvious with the points exposed to find their mark when you strike. Suicide pattern and circle hooks are popular with anglers targeting snapper and can be used singularly or in a twin or treble hook snelled rig.
Lures have been popular for targeting Moreton Bay snapper for over a decade now. Initially anglers mainly used plastics such as jerk shads, paddle-tails, T-tails, prawn profiles, curl-tails and even creature baits. These are still used a lot these days however anglers have also found numerous other offerings that will produce when worked well.
These include vibration baits (both hard and soft), minnow lures, topwater offerings, flies, micro-jigs and numerous others. While these will all catch snapper, using these well in the right areas goes a long way to increasing results. You can read all you like about techniques, retrieves and snapper habits to help you, but there is no substitute for time spent on the water plying your trade and getting an instinct for what to do when and where.
Popular areas for snapper within Moreton Bay include the margins of the bay islands, the artificial reefs (Harry Atkinson, Peel, Curtain, Scarborough and Turner), submerged ledges, wrecks and numerous rubble grounds throughout the bay. Occasionally larger snapper are even found beneath feeding schools of pelagic fish, cruising around slurping up any wounded baitfish. Some areas will require a different approach to achieve the best results.
A stealthy approach in shallower waters will go a long way to improving results. Drifting well past the desired fishing zone before starting your motor is a wise ploy. Skirting wide of the fishing zone while travelling back up to begin a new drift (instead of driving over your fishing zone) will greatly increase chances by not spooking the snapper and other species.
Last year was the first in many where luderick numbers were good throughout Southern Queensland. I had several good sessions at areas along the Brisbane River and others scored results in the canals and other creeks along the coastline. Luderick will eat an array of weed types including cabbage, string, black and purple weeds. All but the cabbage can be hard to find.
Cabbage commonly grows on anything that is floating or in contact with the water including pontoons, navigation buoys, rocks and jetty pylons. You can gather it a day or so before use and store in the fridge submerged in seawater. You won’t need much for a decent session on the luderick – half a cupful will generally do. Specific rigging is required for a good approach when targeting luderick.
Baits are usually fished with a size #6 to #10 hook on a fluorocarbon leader suspended beneath a near neutral buoyancy float so that the luderick can pull the float down with the slightest touch. Baits are generally drifted along rock walls or adjacent to deep, collapsed mangrove banks. When the float dips or rises simply strike to set the hook.
Centrepin reels plus long, slow actioned rods are desirable as they permit the float to drift unimpeded, allow you to set the hook promptly and absorb the lunges of a powerful luderick as it makes its bid to escape. One of the great parts about luderick fishing is that many of the better spots are fishable shore-based. It’s not a form of fishing that too many people partake in. Although occasionally caught on baits such as small live shrimps and yabbies and even occasionally on lures, luderick are mainly only caught with weed baits and specific targeting in limited areas.
During early autumn, plenty of quality mulloway were taken at numerous areas around the southeast. The artificial reefs, Brisbane River, Jumpinpin area, Pumicestone Passage and most of the major rivers all produced quality mulloway for those who targeted them. They have been steadily hitting decks ever since, with plenty of quality specimens taken on baits and lures.
Live baits are extremely productive for those who like the more relaxed approach. Quality live offerings including squid, banana prawns, herring, mullet, yakkas, pike, slimy mackerel and many others will tempt mulloway. A wide array of dead offerings will also entice but live baits are virtually guaranteed to work if there are mulloway in the area. These baits are best fished on a twin-hook snelled rig with just enough lead to put them in the strike zone.
Deep holes, ledges, deeper channels and other submerged structure are all likely to hold a few mulloway in the rivers and estuaries. Out in the bay the artificial reefs, wrecks and margins surrounding the bay islands are good places to target mulloway. Many mulloway are taken on baits by anglers targeting snapper and they are always a welcome by-catch.
Mulloway will also respond well to lures with soft plastics, especially shads, jerkshads and crustacean profiles, vibration baits, micro-jigs and minnow lures are all used successfully to target mulloway. Mulloway possess a minimum size limit of 75cm and a bag limit of two per person. Undersized fish should be handled carefully and released quickly to guarantee we have some quality mulloway to catch in years to come.
One of the favoured targets for many during the cooler months is squid. Over the past decade targeting squid, especially land-based, has become especially popular. Any foreshore area with fairly clean water can have good numbers of quality squid to be caught.
Anglers patrol the shoreline with rods in hand and high powered torches to spot the squid. Once the squid is sighted, an egi (squid jig) is cast to the general area of the squid. Work it with a slow wind or small hops until the squid hopefully grabs it and the rod if lifted briskly so the rows of barbs penetrate the tentacles.
Keeping constant pressure as you slowly wind in the squid is the key to staying connected, no matter where you are fishing. Areas around Wynnum, Manly, Wellington Point, Victoria Point, Scarborough, Amity Point, Dunwich and many others are all accessible to those on Shank’s pony (land-based). Numerous tasty tiger and arrow squid can be subdued in a leisurely evening patrol of these areas.
Out within Moreton Bay there is a myriad of good areas to chase squid. The shallows around the numerous bay islands (even the small ones like King, Goat and Bird) are highly likely to hold numbers of squid, especially if there is nice clean water flowing over reef, rock, rubble or weed beds.
Weed beds along the western side of Moreton Island and the discoloured bottom along the edges of the deeper channels such as the Rous, Rainbow and the numerous gutters can all hold cephalopods. Casting egi is the main way to work the shallows. In the deeper areas egi can even be drifted behind the boat with good results. Another approach is to drift with a squid skewer baited with a whole pilchard.
This should be suspended a few metres beneath a near neutral buoyancy float. When the squid grabs the baited skewer it will pull the float under. Lift the rod tip abruptly and wind in your tasty prize. Always be careful when the squid nears the boat and try to keep the head facing away from you as it will generally propel an inky blast as it hits the surface. A fine meshed landing net is advisable to secure the squid until it stops inking and is ready to come aboard.
Anglers will additionally be treated to a lot of other species during June. Sweetlip, tuskfish and several other species will be encountered by anglers fishing the edges of the bay islands and other snapper zones. In the Brisbane River and other estuarine precincts, anglers will be treated to threadfin, bream, flathead, whiting, cod and a few other desirables.
There should still be a few longtails knocking around the bay and perhaps even a school mackerel or two. Bonito schools will probably be located along the edges of major banks systems and in the larger channels. The fishing should be good throughout June so don the winter woollies, fill up a flask and get out amongst it.Reads: 633