The Redcliffe Peninsula offers anglers the chance to tangle with what has arguably become SEQ’s most sort after sportfish – the snapper – well within easy travelling distance for most Brisbanites.
There are several boat launching facilities on the peninsula including Pelican Park, Margate Beach, Queens Beach and Scarborough Boat Harbour. Be warned that launching and retrieving boats at both Margate and Queens can be very tricky when the easterly picks up and pushes large waves over the ramp. Pelican Park and Scarborough are easy access points in all wind conditions.
To get to the peninsula head north from Brisbane along the Bruce Highway, take the Anzac Avenue exit and follow the signs to the Scarborough Boat Harbour. There is a multi-lane boat ramp here as well as a pontoon that makes launching and retrieving a breeze. Alternatively if coming from the southside, take the Deagon Deviation off the Gateway and once over the Houghton Highway Bridge follow the signs to the Pelican Park boat ramp. Be warned that this dual lane ramp can be very shallow on the lower tides.
One of the best things about Redcliffe is the minimal travel time to productive fishing grounds. Even from the boat harbour at Scarborough, it’s only 10-15 minutes until you’re in with a chance of fresh squire.
There are a myriad rubble patches, rock groynes and shallow reefs that extend all the way from Scarborough Reef in the north to Woody Point in the south. In the accompanying map I have outlined a few areas that are worth starting with.
This ledge which falls from 15ft down to around 25ft in places runs almost the whole length of the peninsula, from just inside the green marker at the end of Scarborough Reef down to about Margate. Once you have found the ledge, run along it and with your sounder look for areas with bait hanging just off the edge. This area is great to fish in a SE or NE wind as it allows you to drift along slightly across the edge of the ledge. Work this area fairly quickly, but once a few fish have been caught in one spot, mark it and slow down.
This area just north of Queens Beach is relatively shallow and featureless. However if you look a little more carefully with your sounder you will see that it is littered with rubble patches. The depth ranges from 8-15ft and is best fished early in the morning and late afternoon. Once you have located a few areas of rubble, fish the ones that have the bait scattered over the top. The biggest tip for this area is to be as quiet as possible. When fishing in shallow water it is easy to scare the fish by screaming in on your motor or banging around in the boat.
This vast open flat is dotted with small bommies rising sharply off the bottom. They will usually rise from around the 15-20ft mark and the tops (sometimes only the size of a small tinnie) contain areas of rubble or light wiry weed. If you do happen to find a few of these lumps with a smattering of bait hanging over the top, you’re in for some action. The best method to use here is to find the rise, slowly motor off it and cast the plastic up onto the top section and slowly hop it off the edge.
This section of the peninsula extends from Scotts Point out to Otter Rock and contains a range of depths and types of bottom. Fish early and late in close to the exposed reefs at Scotts Point, Woody Point and Otter Rocks and as the day progresses use your sounder to find small drop-off and rough bottom. If you find the bait you will find the fish, and remember to mark any good looking ground for your next trip.
Most of the lures and jigheads that you will be throwing are quite small so there is no reason to go overboard with rods and reels. A light 2-5kg 6’6”- 7’ spin stick matched with a 1000 or 2500 sized spin reel is going to be more than sufficient for most of the fish you will encounter at Redcliffe. At times you will get smoked, but by fishing a little lighter you will be able to pick up on those tentative bites on the slower days.
4-10lb main line will fit the bill and a good quality braid with minimal stretch will make staying in contact with the lure much easier.
As for leaders, fluorocarbon in the 10-16lb range will allow you to put enough hurt on a rampaging fish without being rubbed off too easily. This is advantageous because it is a touch less visible underwater and harder than other braking strain monofilaments giving you better abrasion resistance.
At the business end we have the plastics and jigheads. Most of the areas on the peninsula are fairly shallow with little current so you are best off fishing as light as possible. A selection of jigheads in 1/12th, 1/8th, 1/6th and at times a 1/4th on size 1/0 (for 3” baits) and 3/0 (for 4” baits) will give you all that you need to nail a feed. The TT range of Heavy Wire jigheads are best suited to this application as they give your plastics a great action and are strong enough to handle the crushing power of a decent snapper.
There are dozens of plastics that these bay snapper will snaffle but the most popular seem to be the 3 and 4” range of Berkley PowerBaits. These skinny stick baits have a lovely wafting action when presented on light jigheads and ring dinner bells for the local squire population. In the cool, clear waters of winter and early spring the more natural colours such as pearl watermelon, rainbow silver scales and the new galaxias green are the first picks. If the water is a bit dirty switch over to colours like pumpkinseed and smelt scales.
In most cases using smaller 3” PowerBaits is the go, but if the fish are a little finicky or you are plagued by smaller fish upsizing to the 4” models will make a difference.
Some other productive plastics to have in your kit include the Atomic 3” Jerkbait in olive holographic, the Zoom Fluke in baby bass and the 4” Snap Backs in red glitter.
There are a few different techniques that you can use to increase your success rate on these shallow reefs.
The first is the standard double hop, where you rip the plastic up off the bottom in a two-stage rod lift. Suspending the fish (and bait) off the bottom can be a deadly technique. Between lifts allow the lure to sink back to the bottom and leave it there for up to 10 seconds. If you get a hit on the drop but don’t hook up, don’t just wind in. A lot of fish will come back for a second or even third shot at the bait.
Another success method is to actually ‘whip’ the plastic up and along the bottom. To do this keep the rod tip low and give then it two quick sharp rips. The plastic will dart up off the bottom quickly and slowly sink back down. This style of retrieve is best used with the lighter heads (1/12th and 1/8th) as the super slow sink rate allows the squire to pick up the offering on the drop. Again allow the lure to sit for some time on the bottom, pick up the slack and whip away!
Don’t be afraid after a few missed hits to shake the plastic as it sits on the bottom. Do this by slowly dragging the plastic while vigorously shaking the rod tip.
To maximise your time out on the water consider running a ‘sleeper’ rig. By this I mean cast out a slightly larger plastic and jighead combination and leave it to drift and drag. The best plastics for this style of fishing would be the Berkley Gulps with their protein construction and attractive smell. These things just ooze scent and the squire can’t resist them.
Gulps that I have found to be effective are the 3” Shrimp in nuclear chicken, the 4” Turtleback Worm in pumpkinseed and the 4” in pearl white.
I hope I have provided enough encouragement for you to get out there and land a few of these hard fighting, fine eating sportfish. The last bit of advice I will give you is to fish ahead of the area you are drifting towards. This can be a challenge at times (especially if using small jigheads) as you will be blowing over the top of your line. But this way you won’t spook as many fish, giving yourself the change to tangle with the most wanted– that elusive bay knobbie. – Justin WelshReads: 11504