Cough Up for the Coast Guard
  |  First Published: June 2008

I have just returned from eight and a half hours broken down at sea. This is the fifth time that I have had motor troubles and been stuck out on the big old blue. And, to add insult to injury, all but one of these occasions have been in brand new boats only a few months old.

However, this time on board a 38 footer, it broken down 10miles from the harbour with the owner refusing to call the coast guard because he was not a member. He was prepared to spend enough money to buy a small house but not the $55 Coast Guard fee…what the? I implore all readers to join the Coast Guard, they provide a great service and you do not get many chances out on the water. If you’re not a member and own a boat, you’re a bloody idiot!

Those anglers lucky enough to get offshore in the breaks of southerlies have found the Spanish mackerel only willing on troll baits of gar or mullet. Trolled lures have been working as well but the best reports have come from the baits.

School sized fish from 8-15kg have been the main stay of most catches, although reports of 25kg+ fish from the reef platforms taken on live fusiliers have also been filtering through.

My advice for the coming month if you’re chasing a mackerel, other than running to the reef, try fishing the mac patches about 15miles from Cape Cleveland or any of the shoals holding bait on them through to the Haughton River mouth.

For smaller boats, stick around Cape Cleveland itself as there is plenty of good mackerel country there. Two Foot, Four Foot, Twenty Foot and Salamander Reef are all in a pretty close area, and can be easily trolled around without punching your boat offshore. Similarly Magnetic Island also has some great deepwater trolling runs around places like Orchard Rocks or the well-known wrecks off West Point.

If the weather comes magically flat, head out to places like Palm Island to the north or Shark Shoal straight out along side the green zone. Palm has for a long time had a reputation for big macs that is well deserved. Areas like Albino, Chillcott, Paluma and Hayman rocks all hold good schools of Spanish at this time of year. As for Shark Shoal, it is more of a hit-and-miss affair, and it’s not called Shark Shoal for nothing! But if the sharks are letting you have a fair go, the mackerel fishing here can be fantastic.

Closer inshore we should start to see the school or doggie mackerel making a return to our winter waters. In the last couple of years Halifax Bay has been a far better producer of doggies than Cleveland Bay. The real upside to fishing Halifax is that with the slightly deeper water, chances are you will also come home with a few big grunter mixed in with the catch. It is also worth mentioning the quality of our grunter fishing in the last couple of years as gone up, with fish over 70cm no longer rare catches.

Good quality pilchards, live or fresh greenback herring or even gar have been the pick of the baits, and this trend should continue. The only thing worth working on is your berley mix. Some people just use a tin of cat food with holes poked in it, while others have a specialist mixture so closely guarded that the recipe is kept in the family safe.

Basically most berley mixes consist of pilchards, chopped or ground up, marinated in tuna oil and chook or fish pellets. Most doggie mackerel fishers are also buying up big on a product called Ultrabite, so it might also be worth a try. Everyone should know by now ‘a little berley often’ when it comes to berleying, as you’re trying to attract the fish not feed them.

Now just for Townsville local Gary Powis, yes the whiting are biting on the beaches. The best reports have been coming from Cungulla to the south of town working the incoming tides.

Although I would expect that the northern beaches will start to fire up this month, you can also expect to see a lot of large flathead coming off the sand near creek mouths. Good reports of salmon feeding on live prawn down in Bowling Green Bay Creeks are also good reasons for putting the tinnie in. Anchor side-on to allow the use of multiple rods to create a mini school of bait and hopefully, by using two anchors, funnel the fish through under your boat and past your baits.

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