How to target bigger fish
  |  First Published: April 2008

Thousands of holidaymakers and anglers head towards the Whitsunday’s every year to target the amazing array of fish on offer. But how do you turn a good day fishing into an amazing fishing adventure? By catching a fish of a lifetime and taking away the big one!

With so much on offer, it is often hard to know where to start. In the following we will be examining some the techniques and gear to help you get bigger fish to the boat.


Searching for big GT in the Whitsunday’s can be a daunting task. There are endless locations around the 74 islands where these fish can be found. The area holds an amazing amount of rocks, bommies, reef edges, sand flats and points so it’s tough to choose your first fishing spot.

We have found that to catch bigger GT you need to be fishing really ‘fishy’ looking areas. A place with heaps of bait and deep and turbulent water is a great spot to score ‘prize’ sized GT.

The bigger GT are usually wiser fish too. Out-smarting them into eating your lure can be a challenge. Big baits usually attract bigger GT. Stickbait lures are great as they imitate a large wolf herring – a favourite meal for a big GT. Make the lure look natural with pauses and large splashes and try to zigzag the lure. This technique has worked wonders for catching bigger specimens.

For big fish you need big tackle to get them to the boat. We rely on 60lb Suffix braid and 150lb Jinkai leader to stay connected. Upgrading hooks to ‘hard yakka’ size is a good idea for big GT. We have found the C’ultiva SJ-51 and Owner Gorilla live bait hooks in size 10/0 to 11/0 are perfect to attach to big GT stickbaits.


Targeting Whitsunday’s reef species on soft plastics is a fun technique as you usually score plenty of bites. But getting your plastic to the bigger fish rather than the smaller fish is often the problem.

Smaller reef species will usually live up in the shallow reefy structure. The bigger reef fish are in more crafty spots such as in the shade under bommies in deeper water. When fishing the reef edges with polarised sunglasses you can usually spot submerged bommies below the surface.

These spots are prime places for big reef fish. Cast your plastic on top of the submerged bommie and let it sink as close as possible to the base of the structure. Let it sink all the way to the bottom until your line goes slack and then retrieve to the boat. But be ready for the strike and a tough battle!

Soft plastics of all description are delicious baits for these fish. Match these to a 1/8oz jighead and you have one hot bait for reef fish.

Tackle for getting big reef fish out of their lairs needs to be strong too. Try 30lb braid and 60lb leader as it will help keep the fish connected as the line abrades on the coral. Spin gear is a good option too for winding fast and staying connected to the fish.


Wild weather in the Whitsunday’s in February has caused millions of dollars worth of damage to boats. A monsoonal low came over the area bringing high waves and 50-60 knot winds to the area.

The large swells put extreme pressure on the chains and the vessels eventually broke away from their moorings. Around 35 boats were swept into the shallows with the strong waves pushing them onto rocks, stonewalls and beaches. Some of the vessels, which hit the rocks, had severe damage with many of them overturned, sunken or pushed right up onto the rocks. There were boats that were completely destroyed in some areas with the debris washed up onto the shore. It was an amazing sight for many people but, alas, not so much for the owners or local charter companies.

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