Winter dawn bites are worthwhile
  |  First Published: August 2006

It’s hard to talk about being on the water at dawn without lapsing into a bunch of clichés about how special and beautiful it is.

But the truth is that no matter how hard it is to get out of bed in the early hours, it always seems worthwhile when you get to see the start of a new day. The other obvious bonus is that the fish are often most active at this time too.

The place to be at dawn on an August morning in my opinion is drifting the shallows of the Southern Bay Islands or wading around Cleveland and Wellington Point. Small swirls and flicking prawns give away the location of fish cruising the flats, sometimes this becomes a great shower of bait and slashing dorsal fins as a school of kingfish or tailor move in.

On really quiet mornings you can hear the sound of a bream sucking a tasty morsel of the surface. A dawn hot bite may not last long; an hour at most, however, it’s the quality not quantity that counts here. Surface lures and flies are the go, firstly because there is usually some snaggy reef lurking not far underwater but most importantly because you get to see the fish eat. At the risk of this column sounding like the confessions of a surface junky, there is no better way to hook a fish than to see the hit, in my opinion.

Tailor, bream, pike, kingfish and various trevallies are all common targets for an early morning luring session. My favourite fly for this kind of fishing is the Gurgler. With the angled front face it can be worked as either a noisy popper or a subtler slider style of fly. Also the hook hangs back down into the water on an angle, which helps to keep the fly in the fish’s mouth on the strike rather than be tossed in the air like more buoyant flies.

Since coming back from Weipa a couple of months ago, I plan to spend more time using Neutralizers. It is a neutral buoyancy fly which can be worked very slowly just under the surface. They were an outstanding fly for all the species around shallow rock bars and beaches up there.

Lures that have had good success in the shallows include Pop Queens, Ecogear PP60Fs, XPS Lazer Eyes. Most of the successful lures are 45-60mm long, however some anglers have had excellent success on 2-3kg tailor using River 2 Sea 110mm Dumbell poppers.

Flathead are another good species to target this month. In late winter and spring, they congregate around the mouths of creeks and rivers in preparation for breeding. Both baits and lures work well on the flathead, with pillies, whitebait and hardihead being the pick of the baits. Drifting around the edges of sandflat drop-offs is the way to get their attention, especially on the falling tide as they line up to feed on all the small fish being pushed off the shallows. When lurefishing the same areas, trolling small divers like Micro Mullets, or casting plastics such as Berkley Gulp Minnow Grubs and Ecogear Grass Minnows are very effective. Some of the popular spots include the sandbanks between Coochiemudlo Island and Point Halloran, the Canaipa Passage and the ‘W’s between Garden and Long Island.

Until next month, tight lines, or for more information on the southern Moreton Bay area, come and see me at Fish Head (Cnr Broadwater Tce and Stradbroke St, Redland Bay, www.fishhead.com.au) or call us on (07) 3206 7999.

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