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Bait Schools and the Bay Islands go hand-in-hand
  |  First Published: September 2007



It’s a funny thing fishing. Plan a trip with a couple of mates, tell them that they are going to catch heaps, head out fishing and have a fishless day. That is exactly what happened recently when I headed out with Steve Booth from QFM and Corey Tarr from Logan River Marine.

I’d planed to take the guys fishing for squid in some great locations around St Helina and Mud Islands. Despite the perfect conditions not a whiff of a bite, no fish or squid could be raised from the shallows. What went wrong? The water was clean, the tide was good and the wind wasn’t that bad. But the one thing it lacked was baitfish.

I drove home pondering the fishless day and a few hours later it got the better of me, so I put the boat back in the water and drove back to the same area to fish the evening tide. Within minutes there was action, squid then bream then more squid. The same area that we fished earlier that day for absolutely nothing was alive with baitfish, the one thing that was missing on the morning tide.

The one standout thing when fishing the bay islands shallows or the new reclaimed section at the mouth of the river is that when the area is void of baitfish the area becomes very hard to catch anything. When the wind, tide and bait schools are present these areas really fire up.

What’s on the CHEW?

Bream are in excellent numbers and will still be around for a while in most of the usual spots such as Pinkenbar Wall and the Sunken Wall at the mouth. This season for bream has been a cracker with a lot of big fish being boated. There is also some great catches around Amity on Stradbroke Island. When the weather permits, the small rock groins and along the drop-off out from the houses are worth a look for some big sea-run bream. Soft plastics and fresh strip baits lightly weighted, wafted into the schools of bream will catch good numbers.

Tailor have been a little patchy this season, some days they can be caught just about everywhere in the river and bay and the next day it’s a desert. The size of fish has also been disappointing with lots of smaller tailor around. However, when they have shown up they have been in good numbers, especially at night.

Flathead are in full swing throughout September around the mouth of the river and any of the small creeks and drains heading into Bramble Bay. They can also be found at the mouths of the creeks and lagoons on the smaller bay islands. Small lures like Ecogear’s SX40 and 48’s work well when cast towards the small drains on the bottom of the run-out tides. Flathead lay in ambush, waiting for the bait to come to them ­ don’t make one cast into a drain and think that there is no fish. Pepper cast in ever direction covering every bit of ground because some days the lure has to virtually hit the flathead to get it interested. If you catch a big fish, then there is usually lots of smaller males around trying to mate or visa versa.

Snapper are in good numbers along the shipping terminals at the mouth. The bad part is gaining access along this section is almost impossible. War ships, cruise ships, construction and the container ship backlog makes this area hard to fish. It’s becoming a great habitat for fish but not so good for anglers. A reasonable number of fish are also being boated along the Hamilton stretch and around Claras rocks.

Crabs should start to become easier to catch throughout the month towards the mouth of the river and around the shallow weeded banks near the Boat Passage. Fresh bait and moving your pots to locate the crabs is the key. Try from the Gateway Bridge to the mouth for best results.

Further up the river towards the Moggill Ferry and beyond there has been some good reports of threadfin feeding on the available prawns and poddy mullet. These fish have an incredible range and follow available food even into the fresh/brackish water. Since the prolonged dry spell, many species including snapper, jew and threadfin have taken advantage of increased salinity levels and ventured upstream into new territories.

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