Spring into soft plastics
  |  First Published: October 2007

Spring has well and truly sprung in the South East. Larger snapper have now retreated back out to the cold depths east of Moreton Island and small school squire are still around with the better fish pushing 40cm.

Early mornings are now a necessity if you are heading out to catch a feed of snapper as the fish are dispersing rapidly soon after sunrise. High tide, before the sun kisses the horizon, will bring the cooler water over the shallow reef areas, this is the best time to try throwing a few plastics about.

Start thinking about what baits and artificials will work the best. Be aware of what is the main source of food supply for the larger fish and you will better your chances of nailing a few keepers, even this late in the season.

Herring, sand crabs and other crustaceans are beginning to move out of the rivers and into the bay, try to use these as your offering to tempt the better fish. For plastics use lightly weighted herring/hardihead replicas like Juro’s Firebait 4” Minnow, Twitchbaits or other plastics like Gene Larew’s 3” Baby Hoodaddy in pumpkinseed.

I haven’t heard of many exceptional fish being caught lately but there will still be the odd one hanging around for keen anglers.

With the water losing its clarity, it is a good idea to use plastics with ribs or tentacles dangling off. This is because the fish will often feel the vibrations given off a plastic well and truly before they even see it moving through the water. I have heard of fishers preferring sleek jerk bait type artificials because the fish see the lure moving through the water column when it has a quicker sink rate. I tend to think that the slower sinking vibrating plastics draw better results and give far more vibrations out than a lure that drops to the bottom in a manner of seconds.

The vibrating lures will bring more fish into striking range, especially from those that wouldn’t normally show interest.

The new TT’s Hidden Weight System (HWS) have filled a large gap in the market recently with their new release. These jig heads have a much larger concealed lead weight and heavier stronger hooks than others previously available on the market. The HWS now makes fishing bigger plastics and deeper water with artificials look more natural.

Good success has also been reported fishing for flathead in the deeper holes – an exceptional season by all accounts.

The Pine River has produced the best results as some early ‘big girls’ pushing over 80cm have been frequent and are not uncommon for anglers to catch five or more fish per session.

Fishing the deeper sections near Dohles Rocks with baits, plastics or deep diving lures will get you connected to the bigger fish. When you find the spot keep working the area, as these fish are schooling for breeding and always move to one particular area where food supply is high.

Don’t be afraid to use both big and small plastics as the fish will seek out any likely target in the area. The biggest tip I can give is to work every area thoroughly as some spots will continue to produce fish after fish. And remember to work all artificials really slowly. Make plenty of pauses, small twitches and the occasional loping rod lift.

Flatties tend to stalk their quarry and will strike when they feel the morsel is about to make a dash for cover. Flatties are one of those fish that will really strike at anything that moves – this makes them a favourite of both pro’s and beginners alike and can also be targeted by shore fishers. They are a great species to introduce children to as their first experience of a hard and clean fighting fish.

Fishing the deep holes at this time of the year will also get you in with a chance to tangle with a jewie. As the tide begins to run back out from full, just after the rain, head to the first deep hole at the mouth of the river and work thoroughly with live baits or plastics. If there is no interest after 10 minutes move on to the next hole further up stream. Once the tide starts to flow and it becomes harder to get your bait to the bottom, the jew will stop feeding until the next tidal ebb.

First and third quarter moon will see the jew bite for longer periods, full and new moon tend to make them bite more ferociously but only for about 20 to 30 minutes that make the jew a lot harder to find.

The channels in Moreton are fishing well for cod and other reef species, drifting over the coffee rocks with small unweighted live baits or soft plastics is giving some great results.

Fishing with braided lines can sometimes cause high losses of fish in 30-60ft of water due to the unforgiving nature of low stretch braided lines. Most hook-ups in the channels are due to territorial instinct which means fish are usually lightly lip hooked or foul hooked on the side of their head; try fluorocarbon lines around 20lb for remarkably better results.

Fluorocarbon has a very similar light refraction to water and becomes almost invisible under water and has about half the stretch of mono for a better feel of the bottom.

The snapper season has been very patchy this year and now the end of the season is near they will become harder to find in any great numbers. Pearlies on the other hand have been awesome through winter and are still responding well. Paternoster type dropper rigs fished with fresh pilchards and squid are by far the best way to catch a feed. Pearlies like cool clean water and have been schooling up around deep contour drop-offs in 80-100m of water.

The shelf due east of Cape Moreton has been one of the best pearlie producing spots for the last month. Fishing in the deeper water saves the need for getting up before the birds and heading out to the grounds in the dark.

Most of the shallow reefs around Hutchies are becoming fickle for bottom fishing during daylight hours. Anglers who are heading out are better off making a few runs along the reef with high-speed skirts in the hope of a few wahoo or tuna.

I have even heard that out-of-season billfish are being caught on the grounds behind Moreton Island. This could be a signal for the start of an early season, or perhaps these fish are year round residents. Whatever the reason, it could be a good sign for the upcoming trolling fraternity.

Most of the small marlin have been caught by snapper fishers float lining pilchards and live slimy mackerel. Some are also being caught on deep-water Japanese jigs. The beakies have all been small blacks and are quite easy to subdue on lighter tackle.

Have a good month on the water and get the trolling gear ready for a cracker season.

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