Big Bait Schools
  |  First Published: May 2006

Inclement weather hampered fishing efforts in the Bay in early April, with only small windows of opportunity for fishing on the inshore reefs around Scarborough and Scotts Point. When the weather has come good, the fishing has been fantastic. Huge amounts of bait have moved into the shallower grounds and are schooling up into big bait balls.

These schools of bait have attracted large numbers of small squire in the shallows. Most of the fish are still undersize but the odd pan-sized squire to 3kg has been in the mix. I’m amazed at the number of squire that have been schooling – it’s been common to hook fish on a soft plastic, lose the fish near the boat, let the lure drop back down again and hook up immediately on another fish!

Berkley Powerbait Saltwater 4” Shrimps, in the natural colour, have been getting the best results with the bigger fish. After the recent rain, prawns have been flushed out of the rivers and over the shallow reef systems.

My jighead of choice has been the Wilson Double Strike cobra-type head on a 2/0 hook and 1/4oz weight. This type of head seems to hold the Shrimp’s tail up off the bottom as the lure comes to rest, which results in lots of strikes while the lure is at a complete standstill. Very slow retrieves, allowing lots of time in the strike zone, have been the key.

First light has been the best time to fish the reefs as the fish have been coming into the shallower water. Cloudy overcast days have often seen the fish biting well in to the morning until about 10am before moving into the deeper water. I focus my target fishing days to the three days leading up to a major moon phase.

Although chasing squire has produced lots of fun mornings they haven’t been the only species to target over the last month. Chopper tailor have started to return into the Bay and have been a welcome by-catch. Most of them have been around 1kg but there have been frequent complete bite-offs on the bigger plastics before the lure even makes the bottom, so there must be some bigger tailor lurking about.

Gold-spot cod and estuarine cod have also been on the chew around the more rugged reef areas but chances of pulling some of the bigger fellows out of their home is a task that finesse fishing often simply can’t do.

The spotted mackerel have somehow eluded my efforts this season. Everywhere else on the coast has been firing with them but I just can’t connect to one. I put this down to the amount of dirty water in close and my being unable to head out to the cleaner water out wide. Smaller boats and rougher water equals inshore boating only!

May will hopefully provide some better options for the Northern Bay anglers as the tropical weather activity starts to abate. It’s usually a good transition period for the overlap of both tropical and sub-tropical fish species and opens up a whole range of fishing options. With the good early showings of winter species we look to be in for another fantastic year of fishing on the shallow reefs and headlands. It will definitely be worth the effort to shoot over to Moreton Island if we do get some calmer days.

Spanish mackerel should be everywhere around the deep water drop-offs, and I find the best way to connect to these line burners is to use two or three large livebaits, such as legal tailor or whiptails, set at various depths. Expect the squire size to increase, with more legal fish tussling to smash well-presented hard and soft lures. There is also a chance of bigger snapper moving in to the area so be prepared to getting some thumping hits and scorching runs. Now would be a good time to increase line size for inshore angling.

Good luck this month and happy fishing!

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