As a fisher in South East Queensland, you just have to love this time of the year – the weather finally has some predictability to it!
Crisp fresh mornings make early fishing trips worth every effort. Just being on the water with the light offshore breezes and the warming sun rising over the horizon, is just privilege enough. Better still, the fishing is fantastic to say the least.
The conditions really seem to be sorting themselves out since all that wind and rain in the first three months of the year. This means we are set to reap the benefits with some fantastic fishing months ahead. Fish activity around the bay has been phenomenal with tuna bursting at every corner, snapper probing further up into the shallow grounds, and even better catches of bream and whiting than previous years. I suppose that’s what happens when the fish have hardly seen a lure or bait in months.
The water has really begun to clear up in Moreton Bay over the last few weeks, this has triggered the migration of bream from up river down towards the river mouths and out to the Bay Islands. Fishers targeting these fun little guys in the shallows are getting a good idea of how many bream are moving around, as the schools scatter from cover when spooked.
Top-water fishing has been a little hit-and-miss over the last few weeks with some days firing and others not even drawing the slightest interest. Unfortunately big numbers of long tom have also been abundant in the shallows and are smashing expensive Japanese lures – I recently lost $60 worth of top-water lures from these pesky fish in about an hour.
Luring with hardbodies has, on the other hand, drawn the most interest from the schooling bream and some good-sized fish are amongst them. In the current water clarity, using super shallow Jackall Chubbies and SPRO minnow’s in clear and natural colours are having the best results. Watching big bream pounce on lures flicked up in the shallows and shaking their heads furiously from side to side is something really worth seeing with your own eyes.
In a few more weeks, as the water temperature drops, using super light plastics will become more viable and a less expensive option. Bream will gorge themselves on anything in front of their noses prior to spawning.
Snapper have been patchy, as they always are at this time of the year. Some good reports of consistent catches have come from around the mouth of the Brisbane River along the wall and amongst the wharf piers when the tide allows. Fish sizes have been averaging around the 40-50cm mark with the very occasional bigger fish.
I haven’t had many reports of snapper from around Redcliffe as yet, but the rubble grounds and in close to the rocky headlands will start to fire over the coming weeks. Sound around headlands for schools of baitfish and begin working the area with 4-5” plastics. As the water clears the larger snapper will become shy as the sun rises, requiring the need to get out on the grounds before the sun sets or rises.
There will be abundant schools of smaller squire around to entertain fishers who can’t quite work up the courage to beat the sun. Mud Island has had a huge amount of pike on its fringing reefs this year; these guys are one of the most favourite foods going for big snapper, so expect to see a few more trophy fish caught again this season.
The best method for duping wary fish is to use light jigheads, like a hidden weight system where the lead weight is hidden inside the soft plastic.
There has been some good sized flathead around the shallows with some fish exceeding 1m in length. These guys are holding around the bait schools so it is worth casting away from the bait ball in the hope that a flattie is approaching the school.
Retrieving your lure or bait parallel to the shoreline will draw the best results rather than the standard cast perpendicular to the shore. This actually gives the fish more time to see and chase down a lure, most baitfish will migrate in this fashion. If you happen to spook a decent flattie, continue to work the area with repetitive casts as there is a good chance that there will be a few of his mates nearby.
Tuna of all varieties have been reported all over the bay for the last month and will continue. This season has been slightly different, as the tuna schools have been staying up on the surface when approached under motor, which is great news for the fly and light tackle plastics anglers.
Be sure to have a good selection of lures on hand to match the size of the bait being perused. Mix up retrieve speeds until you crack one that works, don’t just assume that the old ‘wind-as-fast-as-possible’ will get them biting. Letting the lure or fly slowly sink through the schools, like an injured baitfish, will draw a strike more often than not.
Big barrel sized longtail have also been lingering in the shallows with the occasional bust within casting distance of the headlands. Have a good strong rod rigged, ready to go, just in case a school of tuna pop up next to your boat.
Remember to catch a feed, not your fill!Reads: 1227