Late February and early March saw the mackerel start to really turn it on as quality bait became more readily available.
Large schools of slimies have been flickering on the surface near the South Passage Bar and made filling the livewell easy. With so much quality bait around, the pelagics weren’t far behind.
On our most recent charters we’ve managed reasonable mackerel catches. Spaniards, spotties and schoolies have all dominated on different days. Mixed in with the mackerel have been some rat yellowfin tuna and the occasional 25kg bluefin tuna.
This season’s fishing has been very erratic compared to previous seasons and I think it’s either one of two things. Either it’s going to be a late season or the fish have bypassed the area due to the prolonged northerlies that kept the dirty water in close to the coast. Let’s hope it’s a late season and the fish hang around a little bit longer before heading north.
Last year’s snapper season finished after its usual slow down time with good catches reported in December, January and February at spots like the Barwon Banks, Deep Tempest and the 36 Fathom Reef northeast of the Seaway. So with all this in mind and the overlapping of the summer and winter species, the pelagic season could easily run late as well.
I would increase my hook and wire size for the arrival of bigger Spaniards and wahoo in April. Most of the early season fish range from 7-10kg but April should see the arrival of 10kg+ Spaniards and 15-25kg wahoo. Troll for quality Spaniards off Flinders Reef, the coffee rock reefs along Moreton Island and the group off Point Lookout. Large baits like tailor, tuna and the largest slimies will be the best.
Hutchinsons Shoals, Shallow Tempest and The 7s northeast of Flat Rock should all produce good wahoo. Skirted lures in gold, purple and pink colours have all produced fish. Hard-bodied lures such as Rapala CD18s and the larger 7” Mac Bait bibless lures have also been working well.
When targeting wahoo and Spaniards, make sure your hooks are super sharp, especially if wahoo are the prime target as their beaklike mouths are hard to penetrate. Also make sure your reels are in good order as they will be put to the test.
I’ve been using a couple of Penn reels recently and they have come through the pelagic season with flying colours so far. One of the reels is the 8000 Applause spinning reel and the other is the 330LD overhead with upgraded bearings, levelwind and a larger handle. The smoothness of both reels has been impressive. I’ve been using the spinning reel for drift fishing for mackerel and the overhead for trolling livebaits.
Currents have been making reef fishing has still been hit or miss with the current the major factor. But judging by the good catches of snapper recorded already from the Barwon Banks we may well be in for another boom snapper season. There have also been some good trag jew and yellowtail kingfish at the deeper reefs and the current should start to settle down soon.
The next couple of months give us the best of both worlds with the opportunity to target pelagic fish and bottom fish. There have been a lot of blue bottles in the water lately and it’s very easy to get them caught around the line and then get stung.
In April the South Passage Bar can have some nasty easterly swell on it and a few boats got themselves into trouble in early March. The problem has been occurring when boats cross the bar on a run-in tide and get lulled into a false sense of security until they get back to the bar during the middle of the run-out tide. This creates a steep swell and there is usually white water everywhere. Take careful note of the tides and carry enough fuel to come home around Cape Moreton if you need too.
Anyway, enjoy your fishing, take care on the coastal bars and if you’d like to join me on a charter (max 4 persons), give me a call at Outlaw Charters on (07) 3822 9527 or 0418 738 750.Reads: 1223