Waiting for good reef fishing weather
  |  First Published: July 2017

For the last couple of years we’ve been lucky in regards to weather, but this year the southeasterly trade winds have returned with a vengeance, pounding the coastline for weeks on end. This may continue moving forward.

Heading offshore to the outer reefs has mostly been restricted to larger vessels. The small boat brigade have only had a handful of opportunities lately. Despite the challenges, the fishing has been worthwhile with a lot of different species on offer.

The coolest months are considered the best for our reef species and they have been around in good numbers. These species include coral trout, red emperor, spangled emperor, reef jack, cobia, trevally species and, to a lesser extent, the small and large-mouth nannygai.

The nannygai haven’t schooled up in large numbers as they normally do. It has required a bit of moving around at times to tap into decent numbers. Sharks have been a problem at times picking off a lot of fish when they are hooked up. They can certainly put a school of fish off the bite.

Interestingly, you often get numbers of mackerel hanging around the nannygai schools, but they have been very patchy so far. A local seafood outlet mentioned that they haven’t seen much mackerel walk through their doors this year. Hopefully both these species pick up.

Coral trout and a lot of different trevally species have been coming on the bite in significant numbers. Gold spot, tealeaf and brassy trevally have been super aggressive and weighing in at the 6-8kg mark. They are providing some full-on action. Smaller bread and butter species such as stripies, sweetlip and Moses perch have also been rolling along nicely.

Coming up over the next month or so, a lot of effort will be aimed towards the small black marlin run. So far the weather has been so disappointing that not many have ventured out to target these fish, so at the moment it’s unknown how the season will pan out.

Closer to the coastline early mornings have allowed the smaller boat brigade to hit the coastal reefs and wrecks. From reports there are smaller nannygai in good numbers, a few mackerel and once again an array of trevally on the march. A few good-sized cobia are up and about and their stocks have been at their best for quite a few years.

In the calmer waters of the rivers, estuaries and creeks, things have really taken on a winter pattern. Bream, flathead, grunter, trevally and few good jacks are taking on the bulk of the load. When the waters are clearer, mid-sized queenfish are also moving into the systems. It has been a good time to lay a few crab pots and the estuary systems are producing the better numbers.

As we’ve previously mentioned, winter fishing is best when the wind and tide are moving in the same direction. If the water is discoloured, the use of fresh dead baits can produce more activity. In saying all this, most anglers will be hoping for a better deal in the weather department to head out to the reef, which is where the best fishing is to be had during the winter months.

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