Change tactics as water cools
  |  First Published: May 2006

Fishing around the Brisbane River and the adjacent bay islands (Green, St Helena, Mud) requires different tactics in the winter months to get results. Tidal flow is usually the most important factor that triggers feeding activity and the larger night-time tides is the better time to fish.

It’s hard to beat targeting fish at night around the shallow reefs on soft plastics, poppers, vibration baits or hard-bodied lures. At this time of year it’s easier to get fish to take artificial offerings at night rather than during the day. You can still catch plenty fish during the day but night will produces better quality fish more consistently.

One technique that frequently works at night is trolling barra style, shallow diving crankbaits over the many reefs that rim the bay islands. This is a relaxing style of fishing that can be attempted out of any boat; most other forms of fishing with artificials require an electric motor.

Slow trolling or drifting livebaits like pike, tailor or poddy mullet will produce good quality fish over the next few months. It’s worth putting in the effort and collecting a few livies to drift out under balloons or unweighted even if you’re going to throw plastics or vibration baits around.

Poppers are really effective at night when chasing surface feeding fish. I usually fish surface poppers when there is very little wind and the surface is like a sheet of glass.

Vibration baits like Ecogear VT65 and Jackall TN50, 60, 70s are all the rage at the moment for anglers fishing after dark. There are two techniques you can use when fishing with this type of bait. Try vertically jigging the deeper ledges and holes or prospect casting across the shallows as if you were fishing a softie in the shallows. Long casts with continual long drawn out hops will work well. Either let the lure hit the bottom or fish it in the mid water. The rattle and vibration of these lures are a definite advantage at night; fishing the same type of bait during daylight hours rarely produces results.

Using soft plastics at night is different from daylight hours. Minnow style plastics that work well during the day will struggle against baits that put out vibration when swimming, like T-Tail and single tail plastics.

Mid-water is the common theme when fishing most artificial baits after dark. You will still catch fish on the bottom but the upper half of the water column has most of the action. Almost all species that can be caught around the bay islands (including bottom dwellers like cod, parrot and sweetlip) will feed closer to the surface after dark.

When fishing at night worm-hooks and lightly weighted jigs are better options than fishing traditional day rigs. Ecogear 4” Power Shads rigged on 4/0 Owner worm-hooks will produce good results if you let them sink before retrieving them.

Bream are starting to show up in good sizes and numbers around most of the shallow discarded reef rubble at Mud Island and the numerous rockwalls in the Brisbane River.

Flathead are gathering in numbers around most local rivers and creeks and will take almost any artificial offering as they start to gather in larger numbers and compete for food. This is a good time of year for the baitfisher. Livebaits, like small poddy-mullet, winter whiting and gar or fresh 5-10cm strip baits, long fished over the flats at the mouths of most local creeks and rivers will produce results.

The Brisbane River is fishing better after dark. Due to the amount of boats fishing the river from pre-dawn through to the daylight hours, the fishing has become very hit and miss. Try fishing away from the popular rock retaining walls at the mouth, I have been catching more fish up the river and better quality than trying to fish with 15 boats leap-frogging along a 300m section at the mouth.

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