Mackerel, tuna, snapper, whiting, jacks, bream…. It’s hard to know where to start at this time of the year. The lead up to Christmas is a great time to fish the Southern Bay as there are far less crowds than in January.
Peel and Goat Islands, the Rainbow and Rous Channels can be alive with pelagic species. The rocky reefs fire up with soft plastics munching snapper and sweetlip. Further south, sand whiting and bream are top targets on the sand flats while any rocky, snaggy holes can be home to tackle destroying mangrove jacks.
Fishing open waters in December can be very dependent on the vagrancies of the northerly wind. It regularly gets up around 11am and becomes steadily stronger until dropping off sometime after dark. For that reason, most snapper and pelagic trips are planned with an early start in mind.
The snapper fishing at this time of the year often fires up from 3am to just after dawn, while the tuna and mackerel prefer gentlemen’s hours, waiting for the sun to come up before putting in a serious appearance.
Soft plastics are generally the most productive way to fish for snapper in December, unless you have some nice big prawns that you are willing to sacrifice in the search for big red. Most of the flesh baits that are commonly used for snapper seem to attract a proliferation of pickers and vermin throughout the warmer months. Popular plastics like Assassins, Zooms and Gulps work well in both natural and bright fluoro colours.
My personal pick is fluorescents for dirty water and overcast days and naturals for clearer sunny days. The only time I really deviate from this methodology is for pre-dawn excursions where I fish with black colour Zoom Superflukes and Saltwater Assassins.
Spotted mackerel numbers are often at their best in the Southern Bay during December. They tend to become a little shy in January with the large amount of boat traffic that is around.
Both baits and lures can be successfully used on spotties. Pilchards drifted down a chopped up pilly burley trail can be deadly when the fish are not regularly feeding on the surface or if boat traffic is making the fish spooky.
When the spotties are up on the surface, many anglers choose to spin for them with metal lures. Some of the more popular include Spanyid Raiders and Snipers, Sea Rocks and Smith Metal Shads. Small sizes around 10-25g usually are most effective as this matches some of the more common baits that they feed on.
Getting the lure in front of a fish without scaring the school is the critical part of the equation. Circling around the school from a distance and then approaching them from upwind or upcurrent usually yields the best results. Travelling at the slowest possible speed when within 100m or so of the schools is also ideal.
Bream and whiting can be found among the Southern Bay Islands throughout December, feeding actively on the sandflats and up into the mangroves. A rising tide and some live yabbies or small minnow lures is a great way to spend a few hours catching some great fish.
A number of people are now also catching good size whiting on small poppers worked across shallow weedbeds and sandflats. It appears an unlikely method for catching fish that are ordinarily bottom feeders, however, it seems in the skinny water anything small and acting like a frightened prawn is fair game for these fun fish.
Popular lures for the whiting include Maria Pop Queens and Plop’n’Skips, either worked on a steady medium paced retrieve or with a more erratic rip and pause action (especially with the sinking Plop’n’Skip)
Until next month, Merry Christmas and tight lines! For more information, give me a call on 07 3207 9965 or --e-mail address hidden-- . Alternatively drop in and see us at our New Store in Victoria Point! We are now located next door to Pattons ‘Big Gun’ Butchers in the Town Centre at Victoria Point, just off the Redland Bay Rd. Our range of specialist fishing tackle has increased with the move to the big new store, so come in and check out our local and imported brands.Reads: 1520