We all had plenty of time to service boats and fishing tackle during March. The two cyclones plus another low just off the coast made the seas rough and reduced offshore fishing to a minimum.
When we could get offshore, however, the fishing was first class with pelagics and bottom fish putting on good shows. During the last few days of March and into early April the fish really turned it on with a week of light winds, no current and clear blue water in close to Moreton Island.
I did numerous charters over that period chasing bottom fish and mackerel with excellent results. Huge schools of slimy mackerel turned up on the bait grounds and filling the bait tank took very little effort.
On the days we chased mackerel we only boated the odd Spaniard, with the main problem being the plague proportions of school mackerel. You just couldn’t keep a bait in the water for long enough to tempt a Spaniard. Most of the schoolies were good fish though at around 3kg, mixed with the odd larger one, and they put up a great show on light tackle. They’re good on the table too. Livebaits and pillies were the go; the hungry mackerel scoffed them down with gusto.
There have been a lot of big longtail tuna hanging around the coffee rock, averaging between 15 and 25kg. They’ve been putting anglers and tackle to the test in long battles slugged out down deep.
While fishing the bottom, amberjack, kingfish, pearl perch and the odd snapper have been turning up. Live slimy mackerel on paternoster rigs has accounted for most of the fish. Some days the amberjack really turned it on. The average size has been around 10kg but we have boated plenty of bigger ones up to 15kg this season already.
We’ve also boated some great pearlies on pillies and strip baits, but you only get one or two drifts before they shut down. The 35 and 42 Fathom reefs were the go and some isolated patches of reef between the main structures also fished well for the bottom fish.
We also boated our largest wahoo of the season so far, a massive 35kg brute that swallowed a live slimy in 12m of water off Moreton. I had only just set the baits up first thing in the morning when the speedster slammed the bait and peeled off 200m of line, ran under an anchored boat and then shot out to sea. I motored over to the anchored boat, passed the rod to the guy on the boat who unwrapped the line from his anchor rope. He then passed the rod back to my boat and the fight was on again. It was give and take for the next 15 minutes but we managed to get a gaff into the fish and secure this unlucky wahoo.
The guys from Motorama Toyota who were on the charter were stoked with the fish. To my amazement they didn’t want to chase another one as they felt they had enough wahoo steaks, so we headed out and nailed a few amberjack and pearlies for the rest of the day. The boys enjoyed themselves immensely.
Fishing options for May are east of Moreton and North Stradbroke islands where you will have your best chances of catching surface and bottom fish with a minimum of fuss. With the water temperature starting to drop a degree or two, chasing snapper will also become more productive as this coincides with their move into the shallow reefs. After the huge seas we had there have already been some quality snapper caught around The Group off Point Lookout.
May and June will see the larger winter mackerel move into the Point Lookout area and it’s well worth a try with a livebait or swimming troll baits such as bonito or tailor.
The Toyota Fraser Island Fishing Expo is on between May 20 and 26 and I can’t wait to get back to Fraser to fish what I believe is the best fishing comp in the southern hemisphere. Fishing in such a pristine place and tackling fish such as red emperor, snapper, jobfish, sweetlip and the like, as well as catching up with good mates, is too good to pass up.
Getting to Fraser with a boat like mine is an adventure in itself, but it’s worth the effort. You’ve got to plan well ahead and make sure your vehicle and trailer are in excellent working condition as they will be put to the test. My crew, John Eadie, Bruce Grimmer and I target snapper and red emperor, weather permitting, and no matter what the result I’m sure we’ll have a great time. The 1500 competitors at each year’s comp make sure there is minimal impact on this beautiful spot and usually leave the place in better condition than they found it.
Until next month, 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 on 0418 738 750 or (07) 3822 9527.Reads: 716