Match the hatch for Summer
  |  First Published: November 2008

Doggies have turned up at the islands in large quantities and it should continue throughout November.

They have been found at most mackerel spots. However, they are still very low in the water so most fishers have missed them by either not letting their lures sink enough or floating out pillies without any lead.

The mackerel were feeding on the abundance of baitfish in the area, which were around 25-30mm in length. Small Flashas, about the size of white baits, have scored a fair share of fish taken. Small baitfish means small lures and small baits – big baitfish means big baits and big lures.

Pillies are the most popular option for many of the local anglers when the fish are quiet, but they will never out-fish lures when the fish are thick. The Harbour wall, Ironpot, Rita Mada, Bangalee, Cave, Pelican and Wedge all hold mackerel when the bay is clean and are easy spots for the small tinny crowd.

Lately, I have heard a few reports from people telling me that bonito and tuna are in the Bay. Small shiny lures will ‘match the hatch’ as the baitfish in the Bay are very small. Bonito are also amongst the best bait for big Spanish mackerel so when they appear you should consider stocking up for the year to come. Even when the bonito are too soft to troll, they are still great bottom bait in strips.

Cobia are continuing to show at many of the local mackerel spots around the area. They are in top form and I keep hearing complaints from a few of the Parkies that they can’t get their baits past the cobes to other fish a bit deeper.

As the school holidays are approaching, I have received a couple of calls from new boat owners wishing to take the kids fishing and wanting to know where they should anchor to get the best out of a reef spot. Naturally, it will all depend on each situation, type of structure and which species you want to target.

In one spot were we fish for grunter, it is better to hang off the edge and fish the current trench on the lee side of the reef at the point where the current converges again. At our best Spanish spot you can anchor where the current hits the reef and leaves a foam trail as the reef drops away. Sweeties range on top at times where you can also get hussar or stripeys, and down the slopes you can get trout, cod and similar. The red fishes and jobbies like the rubble-type reefy patches away from the main reef. Cobia and trevally usually love pinnacles and fast currents, which means anchoring back and drifting the baits back to the structure. Opinions vary and there are no real rights or wrongs. All the variables including tide, barometric pressure and so on are all part of the equation.

Flathead, bream, whiting, salmon, grunter, cod and trevally will be in numbers right across the local scene over the next month or so. A feed isn’t that hard to get if you persist and be prepared to experiment. When the fish are slow try smaller lines and less weight, sometimes that’s all it takes. Make sure the bait is fresh or at least quality frozen. Live bait is arguably the top choice providing there is some around. Lures can change the score when nothing else is doing the trick.

Use the tides to fish areas you don’t usually fish. Night fishing is another alternative or get out of bed a couple of hours earlier. Don’t be afraid to change just about everything till something works, sooner or later a new idea hits pay dirt and the esky doesn’t look so empty.

Whiting have been on the increase, particularly at Five Rocks, Nine Mile and Long Beach. Small schools are moving up the beaches and around the islands. As per usual beachworms and yabbies provide the best whiting baits. Work with the tides by catching worms or yabbies at the bottom of the tide and using them on the incoming tide. Barwells Creek mouth, the gutters along Farnborough Beach, Ross Creek, Coorooman Creek and Corio Bay, and the sandbanks at the creek mouths are all likely places.

Grunter numbers are finally growing in the estuaries and a couple of the closer offshore spots. Quartz Rock at Keppel Sands has been the showpiece when one angler caught two fish; one 6kg and the other 7kg. Grunter of this size are very rare, even in the deeper offshore spots like The Pinnacles, The Barge, Cape Manifold and The Rama. The Fitzroy has had some quality grunter captured in the last month, and Coorooman Creek and Waterpark Creek are also worth a shot.

In The Fitzroy the undulating bottom near Pirates Point can be grunter city at times and Connors Creek down near Port Alma is another good place that holds them. Rubble or cockle beds are the best starting spots in the creeks. The most popular grunter baits are prawns, although fresh fillet strips and greenback herrings work well.

Barramundi season is now closed until 1 Feb so we will have to extend our options to the other warm weather species such as fingermark, mangrove jack, flathead and salmon. The impoundments are the only spots we can legally chase them in our region. Awoonga and Callide, just south of here, and Peter Faust, Eungella, Teemburra and Kinchant, up north, all have stocks of large barras. The dam take limit in the tidal closed season is one fish per person.

Remember the Coral Reef Fin Fish Closures start on the 22 October to the 30 October (inclusive).

Those boats that have not left the yard in 12 months will soon be put through their paces. So before you hit the water this festive season make yourself a checklist of everything you need to do. Not only can a simple checkout save you embarrassment from getting towed home, it can also save the Coast Guard unnecessary time and effort that may well be needed in a true emergency. A full service won’t hurt either.

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