Year’s best fishing on southern Moreton Bay
  |  First Published: July 2008

Break out the winter woollies because it’s time to catch some great fish! A number of years ago I made the move, like so many others from New South Wales to Queensland.

One thing that has really struck me about the fishing here is that there really is no low season: the intermixing of tropical and temperate species means that there is always something to catch. Likewise there is no extremely cold weather or long closed seasons to force anglers off the water for months at a time. Southern Moreton Bay has snapper, jewfish, tailor, bream, flathead, diver whiting and a few kingfish to offer anglers in July, which is why many people in South East Queensland regard this as the time to fish.

The debate over whether bait or lures are more effective for catching snapper in the bay is a constant topic of debate between anglers. At this time of the year I think the results are evenly matched, especially among nocturnal fishers. The tides in winter have much more movement at night than during the day (the reverse is true in summer), which seems to correspond with many larger snapper being caught at night in winter.

Larger baits such as garfish, mullet fillets, pike, whiting and squid are all excellent winter baits. Ganged hooks are often used to rig up these larger baits, however, a more natural presentation is achieved by snooding two hooks close together. The short gap between the hooks gives the bait a more natural and flexible action in the water, which leads to better hook ups on fussy fish.

Line sizes vary depending on the angler’s preference, but they tend to be on the heavy side for chasing big winter snapper. Under the cover of darkness you can often get away with fishing 30lb or even 40lb line without spooking the fish too much, as long as the water is not particularly shallow.

If your taste is more towards chasing a few big winter snapper on plastics, then it is pretty hard to go past the larger 5 and 7” long lures that are available. For night sessions, dark watermelon, black and browns seem to have the edge over most other colours, though the ever popular Nuclear Chicken Gulps also get a few good fish. The theory with the darker lures is that they create a silhouette against a starry or moonlit sky that the fish can more easily see. Generally anglers work soft plastics for snapper pretty slowly, hopping the lures across the bottom, but at night it often pays to further slow things down a notch or two. This especially applies on calm nights in the shallows of the Bay Islands.

The fish seem to home in on the sound of the lure splashing down on the water, but it can take a minute or longer for the snapper to find it. The bite is often quite gentle in this situation and the angler needs to set the hook on the fish. At other times though, the fish can bite very aggressively – much like they do in the daytime. I have even had snapper chase down and belt the lure on a flat out retrieve in pitch black darkness, so there are definitely no hard and fast rules.

At the time of writing, two spots that are regularly producing snapper in the southern bay are the northern side of Coochiemudlo Island and Harry Atkinsons, but with a little bit of exploring there are great number of good snapper spots around the southern bay islands. Some popular hunting grounds include Mud, St Helena, Green, Peel and Goat islands and the Rous Channel.

Apart from hunting big reds this month other things to try include spinning for flathead around the sand and mud banks from Victoria Point to the ‘Pin. Also, bream fishing along the channels with baits of mullet gut and yabbies or jigging lures like Gulp plastics and blades.

Until next month, tight lines! For more information, give me a call on (07) 3207 9965 or --e-mail address hidden-- alternatively drop in and see us at Fish Head in Victoria Point. We are located near MacDonalds in the Town Centre at Victoria Point, just off the Redland Bay Rd.

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