Bundaberg is the cobia capital of the world during August and September, with large schools inundating wrecks and reef areas off Bundaberg and Hervey Bay. These fish usually hang around until Christmas, surprising anglers as they bite on baits intended for reef species. Last year around this time we regularly had schools pop up to look at our spread of lures while we were trolling for billfish.
Reef fishing has been good lately. On recent trips we have caught some big reds, red-throat, snapper, coral trout, parrot, yellowtail kingfish and cobia.
We have been doing especially well with our wreck site on the outside of Fraser. It has continually brought big fish to the boat but only the better anglers catch them as the fish around there fight dirty. The fish size usually starts at around 6kg and averages around 10-12kg, so you need the best tackle available. I usually use jig gear like the Shimano Stella and Accurate reels with the maximum drag setting you can hang on to with 80-120lb braid, with a minimum 150lb leader. Jigging is easy here because the water is shallow, but the best results come from using live baits as it takes only seconds to be thumped by these massive fish.
On a recent trip we were catching yellowtail kings around the 6kg mark when a large tiger shark came in and hit the fish on the line. It was incredible to watch this huge predator nail the big kingfish and scream 20kg of drag off the reel, leaving us with just the head of the fish.
The cobia we’ve been catching on recent trips have averaged 20kg with the biggest around 45kg. On one day we caught nine fish over 10kg and lost another 12.
Big GTs have been hitting lures and poppers over the shoals, making for some interesting fights where they come out on top. Live baiting also works well on these monster fish, and can be just as exciting as lure fishing.
It’s all happening on the billfish scene, with the Hervey Bay Game Fishing Club’s annual tournament nearly upon us. Running from November 17-19, this year’s tournament will be bigger and better than ever with QMC (makers of Albermale boats) purchasing the naming rights. We have the option to upgrade our tournament prizes this year and offer better facilities with a bigger and better mother ship and fuel barge. Shimano and Tropic angler are also huge sponsors. You can find out more by visiting www.hbgfc.org.au.
The billfish are here and you can catch them inside the bay and outside The Spit. We have had boats hooking into incredible numbers of fish, making for a good year all down the eastern seaboard.
During November you can expect plenty of wahoo and mahi-mahi to move in on your lures, giving you the opportunity to catch some great-eating fish for the table.
Barra fishing has really hotted up at Monduran Dam, especially in the shallows around Area B (up past White Rock). Gary Leather and Tim Mulhall from Salty’s Tackle World in Bundaberg have done really well this year, often hooking over 10 fish per day. The best lures have been the old B52s, Tropic Angler Floater, RMG, and Barra Baits.
There are no secrets to this style of fishing, just look for warm shallow water and cast your brains out. Lantana is a great place to start casting, just keep an eye out for bait working the surface because the barra will be where the bait are.
Trolling is a good option later in the year when the water has warmed up, particularly around Christmas and January. Although not regarded highly by most barra anglers, trolling can be very productive and it’s a great option for families, who fish with lots of people in the boat. Last year lots of people caught their first barra while trolling the deep water in the dams.
If you’re looking for accommodation, you can either stay at the dam in the campgrounds or you can stay in Gin Gin at one of the many motels or hotels in town. Stop in and see us at the Gin Gin Hotel to say hello and we’ll keep you up to date with what’s biting. You can also take advantage of our courtesy bus service that travels to the dam daily. You can pop down to the pub, have a meal and a couple of beers and drop you safely back at your campsite.
All up, if you don’t fish the Bundaberg area at this time of year you will miss the best fishing it has to offer, with billfish, GTs and reef fish offshore and barra in the dams. What a great place to live!
The cobia we’ve been catching on recent trips have averaged 20kg with the biggest around 45kg.
Some nice snapper have been caught off the wrecks near Fraser Island.Reads: 911