Top shelf offshore action
  |  First Published: June 2006

Throughout late April and early May the weather gods turned on some great weather for offshore anglers, and the fishing on those days was mostly top shelf. Pelagics and bottom fish had their moments and were widespread from Point Lookout to Cape Moreton.

Pelagic Scene

There have still been plenty of school mackerel on the close coffee rock reefs off Moreton island, but they will start to slow down as the water temperature drops further during June. There have been some big longtail tuna in the area too, with some real brutes amongst them. Only the odd Spaniard has made an appearance but I’m still hopeful of a good run of quality fish in June and early July as the fish push their way back north. Have a troll around Point Lookout or Moreton’s coffee rock areas with larger livebaits and you just might be rewarded with a winter Spaniard or two.

Quality wahoo have been around in good numbers and are still well worth the effort of dragging around high speed lures such as Hex Heads or Screamers near the Sevens or The Group.

On a recent charter chasing pelagics around the coffee rock we were on our last trolling pass of the day when the little 330 Penn lever drag came to life in a big way, with line disappearing from the spool at a rate of knots – it could only be a wahoo. The first explosive run almost spooled the reel and I thought we were looking at another 35kg specimen like the one we landed there only weeks earlier. But after the fish settled, it slugged it out close to the bottom in around 12m of water. The tug of war lasted for 50 minutes before the fish tired and I finally swung the gaff into a great GT of better than 30kg, much to the relief of the lady angler who was very keen to boat the fish after the long fight. This was a fantastic effort on 15kg tackle and is a good indication of the size of fish you can catch close to the beach – it never ceases to amaze me!

There have been good numbers of amberjack on the 35 and 37 Fathom reefs with some truly big fish amongst them. Some days bust-offs have outnumbered boated fish. On the 29 and 33 Fathom reefs some big yellowtail kingfish have moved in, with most fish being better than 15kg. They really enjoy decorating the reef with your gear.


During the last month there has been a good run of mulloway on the 29s east of the South Passage Bar and on the 50 Fathom line south of Point Lookout. Trag jew have also been around in good numbers and the 33s and 42s have been the pick of the spots. Pan-sized snapper and the odd larger fish have been plentiful so far this season, and this month and the next should see the quality get better and better along the 29s, 33s and the Cathedrals south of Point Lookout. The last couple of snapper seasons east of the Bar and north of Cape Moreton have been boomer seasons and I don’t see this season being any different. Fish from just legal to quality sized knobbies have been around in good numbers over the last few years, and in some locations undersized squire were in plague proportions, so the whole fishery looks to be in pretty good shape.

I hear from the so-called experts sitting behind desks that our snapper fishery is in decline and can never recover. I’d like to know how they came up with that conclusion with the stocks of all sized snapper seemingly on the increase over the past few years. The reason I mention this is that I’ve heard there are discussions of upping the size limit to 45cm and dropping the bag limit to two fish per person – need I say any more? Hopefully we don’t get screwed over like we did with the grey nurse closures!

Anyway, this month will see the snapper start to school on the close reefs, and floatlining with as light a sinker as the conditions dictate will snare a good feed of snapper for the family. Pillies fished on a pair of 6/0 hooks or a three 5/0 hooks will account for the majority of fish, and 15-20kg line is plenty.

Fraser Bound

I’m off again to Fraser Island for the Toyota Fishing Expo and hopefully the weather will be kind so we can get out and into some serious fishing. We’re hoping to battle some red emperor or a snapper or two.

Until then, take care on the coastal bars, enjoy your fishing and if you would like to experience some of the great fishing on offer over winter (max 4 persons), give me a call at Outlaw Charters on 0418 738 750 or (07) 3822 9527.

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