Fresh to strong northerly winds have become the norm during the pre-summer weekly weather cycles. New high pressure systems are sliding up into central Australia bringing strong southeast winds as they approach then, hot and gusty northerlies as they move towards New Zealand. These systems are triggering some brutal thunderstorms across the south east and it is not a great time to be on the water when a thunderstorm is going off.
The up side of the current and predictable weather patterns is being able to anticipate great fishing in the Northern Bay area for the next month or two.
As one high crosses the coastline, northerly trade winds begin to increase along the southeast coast. These winds blast hot, humid air from the northern centre of Australia. During the day the winds mix with cool dry southerlies from the next approaching weather system and create spectacular thunderstorms that sweep through from the south. This cycle continues for several days as the next high pressure system approaches.
For our tropical fish, and especially for mangrove jack, this can be the most exciting time of the year, so exciting that mangrove jack often get into a frenzy with approaching storms. The sudden increase of air pressure associated with a fast approaching storm flicks that little switch inside mangrove jacks’ brains. The bigger and quicker the storm, the better they bite until the storm hits and air temperature decreases. For seasoned jack fishers this has been knowledge for many years. They’ll often hold off fishing as they await the pending afternoon squall. Anglers who might be tempting a jack outing for the first time need to be avid watchers of nightly weather reports for any predicted storm activity in their area.
Hotspots for targeting mangrove jack in the Northern Bay are along deep rocky drop-offs and near heavily structured pylons and docks in the Brisbane River, Pine River, Scarborough and Newport Canal systems, channel pylons on the Hornibrook and Bribie Bridge and the many smaller feeder creeks throughout the Pumicestone Passage. By far the easiest way to tangle with these aggressive canine-toothed predators is by using live bait such as mullet, whiting, hardiheads or prawns placed near a suspect snag. Fishing gear needs to be good quality with well-maintained line as any existing abrasions will mean a short-lived-hook-up to such a highly prized fish. Use lines up to 12kg breaking strain that have a high tensile and abrasion resistance. These fish aren’t as uncommon in SEQ as once thought and are a great target for all anglers. Just be sure to head for home when the storm gets too close as no fish are worth risking your life.
Once the existing high slides out towards New Zealand and a new high pressure system approaches the winds will swing to the south, south east. As the wind moves from north to south there is commonly a period of calm glassed out conditions on the Bay. Now is the time to head out and fish for the new season light tackle sport fish.
Cobia are beginning to make their presence felt offshore for anglers targeting snapper and pearlies. These brutes will begin to move into the Northern Bay area over the next few weeks and will be around until just after Christmas. Fishing on any good bottom structure as well as beacons and wrecks with live baits or big plastics like 7” Jerkbaits and curl tail grubs won’t go un-noticed if cobia are in the area. To narrow down the search area, have a quick scan over the intended structure with your sounder. Look for bait schools in a tight ball; this is usually a good indicator of nervous bait with predators in the vicinity. Expect by-catches of mackerel, tuna, snapper, cod and the occasional sweetlip thrown in for good measure as well.
The bread-and-butter species are fishing well at present and this should continue well into summer. There are some great reports of flathead right throughout the Pine River and Hayes Inlet area. The prime flathead spot at the Wells has undergone some recent changes with the new highway bridge being built alongside the existing Houghton Highway having reclaimed most of the coffee rock reef system. The wells area is still fishing ok but can be hard going when the pile drivers and construction is underway. Flathead are also in good numbers to the north around spit at Scarborough and in Deception Bay.
Good schools of whiting are about in the Deception Bay area. Most fishers targeting these fun little light-tackle fish are catching good numbers once they have found the schools. The key is to move around until you find the fish and keep them in the area with the use of berley.
Bream are still very active around headlands and river mouths and some nice fish have been caught in the Brisbane River using vibration blades and hard body minnows. Surface fishing on rubble flats along the peninsulas and also along the foreshore in the rivers is an extremely productive method at this time of the year and can get the bream fired right up when all other methods fail. But be prepared to fish quickly along a likely location as the bream are not schooling like they were a few months ago.
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