Holiday tips
  |  First Published: December 2005

With lots of people on the water throughout January, many people think that it is not the time for ‘serious’ anglers to be on the water. Whether you’re serious or not, there are some good fish to be caught in Moreton Bay throughout the holiday season.

Fishing early in the morning or late in the evening when the majority of boats are off the water can pay dividends, however, there are some species that can be caught right through the day.

Great places to look for flathead and whiting include the Banana and Pelican Banks or down in the Canaipa Passage. When the boat traffic really picks up, look to the shallower, less popular channels and banks around Pannikin Island, Long Island and around the back of Karragarra Island. Some of these places can be quite shallow so if you are new to these areas, go in on a rising tide and pay attention to the depths.

A variety of baits and lures work. For the flathead try hardiheads, mullet fillets or prawns for bait rigged on number 1 to 2/0 hooks on around 8kg line. In lures, paddle tailed soft plastics such as Ecogear Grass Minnows and Storm Shads can be effective. Depending on the day, natural colours or bright fluorescents can work well. These can be rigged on lighter line than the baits (5-6kg) as flathead are usually lip hooked on lures, so they rarely get a chance to use their teeth against the line. Small diving lures such as Micro Mullets are deadly when trolled slowly around the sand and mudbank edges.

For the whiting: worms, yabbies, and peeled prawns are popular baits. Try rigging them on No. 4 longshank hooks with 2-4kg line. Generally the lighter you can go, the more bites you will get when the water is busy. Lures are not very popular with whiting but a couple of lures really standout. Ecogear’s little SX40 Minnows have shown good results on shallow sandbanks and Berkley Gulp Sandworms, which are more like bait than a lure, have had good results on whiting.

Further north into the open parts of the Bay, spotted mackerel and longtail tuna are popular targets. Getting up early to be one of the first casting at the schools is the way to go at this time of the year.

Another trick is to downsize your tackle. When the mackerel are feeding voraciously, lures like 40g Raiders or Sea Rocks are popular. Once they have seen a few lures they may shy away from the big stuff. Coming down to a smaller outfit with chrome lures around 10-25g can make all the difference.

Similarly, with longtail tuna I find myself using soft plastic lures and fly more often, as it is easy to match the lure to the size of the baitfish and they tend to be subtler hitting the water than metal lures. I tend to only use chrome lures when the fish are moving too quickly to be effectively stalked and long fast casts are needed.

Chasing reefies around Bay islands such as Mud, St Helena, Peel and Macleay is still popular in summer. Sweetlip are much more common now and some of the largest snapper in the Bay are caught at this time of the year. Soft plastics lures are particularly popular as they avoid most of the sharks and rays that plague bait fishos throughout January.

Tight lines for January and if you want some more information come and see us at Fish Head (Cnr Broadwater Tce and Stradbroke St, Redland Bay), call us on 07 3206 7999 or on the web at www.fishhead.com.au

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