What a freezing start to the winter we had last month, the westerlies soon became gale force and shut down all hopes of getting offshore. The good news is that small craft and shore-based anglers have been in their element. When the first of the westerlies begin to blow it signals the start of the beach and rock fishing season for tailor and brute-sized bream.
It has been a few years since the wind has blown for such a long period of time and the plummeting air temperature is set to make this season a cracker for tailor fishermen. Tailor feed into the breeze as do many other pelagic species, and with such long sustained offshore winds the fish are moving right up to the foreshore as they feed on the abundant schools of baitfish.
All headlands around the Redcliffe Peninsular harboured glassed out conditions for a good 500m before the wind could have any effect on boaties. Although there were hundreds of anglers getting into the fishing on any given day, the fish were still cooperating. Some nice fish have been taken, with good bags of choppers and a few greenbacks around 1.5kg thrown in for good measure. When the tailor get into a feeding frenzy, they can be caught literally on anything that moves. This a great time for fly fishermen to fine-tune their skills but fly losses are high as the fish often bite up the leader. Tailor feeding below the surface can often be identified by a large shiny oil slick that is also discharged by the schools of pilchards that the fish are feeding on. Feeding fish can often be smelt before they are seen due to the oiliness of the baitfish they are chopping into. This can help anglers scan over vast areas of water to find the best places to target marauding tailor.
Anglers from years gone past would never chase tailor without the use of wire traces, but with technology and the excellent abrasion resistance of modern fishing lines this practice has gone out the window. Better fish do get caught with baits and lures looking as natural as possible. Or maybe the fish are just getting smarter!
Amongst the tailor there have been some outstanding bream snatching baits – I’m not sure if the bream or the tailor are by-catch. These fish have commonly pushed well over 1kg and pull line out of your reel quicker than snapper twice their size. Average sizes are around 30cm and about 650 grams, it doesn’t take many fish to make a meal at this size so leave them biting if that’s your intentions. These fish are abundant at the moment but they can still play the tricks that bream are known for. Unnaturally weighted baits can get plenty of lookers, especially on those days when the water is crystal clear, though not because they are interested in feeding.
Centrally weighting jig heads and plastics like the 3.5” Firebait Longtail Minnow are dead ringers for the frogmouth pillies and hardiheads around at the moment and absolute dynamite for catching bream. Bass style reaction baits are also growing in popularity for specialist anglers chasing bream on light tackle. These ‘Christmas tree’ lures are more about agitating territorial fish into striking through instinct. This method is proving to be a great way to constantly catch bream when they are shying away or not feeding on other forms of lures/baits. As the fish begin to aggregate for spawning, reaction baits can be a good inclusion in your tackle box and receive explosive strikes from worked up bream.
I haven’t heard of the annual mullet run up the coast starting yet, but I am sure that they are not too far away if they haven’t already begun. Fishing inshore will step up another notch when the mullet commence their aggregation. Mulloway will move into shallower water to follow the run and anglers keeping their eyes and ears open will certainly come up with the some good results over the next month.
The reefs offshore are really livening up for bottom fishing. Good catches of pearlies and school snapper are a lot easier to find than last month. The reef fish are really hungry too! Double headers of ‘bucket mouth’ pearlies are becoming more common place, making fishing in 100m or more of water a much more strenuous exercise. Thank heavens the fish are also available in shallower water. Amberjack are still thrilling too.
A spare rod setup with a livie can prove very rewarding and break up the day from catching pearlies and snapper. Hutchies Reef has turned on some great action recently for big snapper and cod. Anchoring on a ledge or dropoff and working on establishing a good berley trail has subdued the better fish. Fill a 10L bucket with a couple of loaves of bread, block of stinky old pilchards, fish frames, bottle of tuna oil and a couple of handfuls of beach sand, (the sand adds a bit of glitter to the berley and drops straight to the bottom creating a trail right through the water column) chop to a smooth but not to smooth pulp. Berley buckets on the back of the boat seem to wash all the goodness out of berley within a few minutes, so I prefer to use a ladle and flick small amounts over the side as we wait. Try using a slightly weighted soft plastic like Ecogears 51/2” Powersquid down the trail and twitch every now and then – this method gets some good attention from knobbie snapper at mid water. With the current wind patterns, only a few lucky anglers are able to get away mid-week have received the chance to head out wide between the weather cycles. There is always an upside though and with the fish getting a good break they will be ravenous when we finally get a weekend with calm conditions.Reads: 1001