A well-laid plan
  |  First Published: December 2004

Every once in a while, when the fishing stars align and Mother Nature is on your side, fishing in your local waterway can really pay off. A bit of local knowledge and understanding of fish behaviour and the effects of environmental changes are big assets when planning a successful fishing trip.

I recently had the experience of witnessing all the factors come together, making for a very memorable morning.

The plan

It all started when Gavin Dunne called me and said only two words: “It’s time!”

For a moment I was puzzled, but then I realised we’d had a few days of solid rain and, as Gav knew of my eagerness to get a jew on plastics, the penny dropped.

The plan was to spend a couple of hours fishing the run-out tide. With the fresh pushing downstream, we knew a lot of bait should have been pushed into the area we wanted to fish. Our assault on the Brisbane River snapper and jew population was set for an early morning before work.

We met with Tony Shao, Ecogear Australia’s top man, at the ramp at dawn and our plan was to test a few new plastics. We wasted no time launching and set off to the first spot on the hit list.

The gear we used was a small step up from the standard bream gear most anglers fish plastics on, but was still pretty light. A 7-foot rod rated around 4kg coupled with a 200 sized reel spooled with 3kg-5kg line is ideal.

As we approached the first spot, I made a quick check of the water depth and current speed and tied on a 1/6oz jighead on the 4kg leader. It’s risky to use light leaders in the hope of a big fish, but it produces more encounters when the fish are shut down.

As we pulled up, the sounder starting marking good fish on the ledge, which dropped from 15 feet down to 35 feet. Tony’s first offering of a 4” tube bait was promptly scoffed by a snapper in true hit-and-run fashion. It was a good start.

As we continued to drift over the coffee rock ledge we cast up in the shallower water and slowly worked the plastic over the ledge, keeping it close to the rocky bottom. After a few more snapper made it to the boat, Gavin hooked into what appeared to be our first jew of the morning. After some solid runs we felt certain the fish was a jew, that was until a massive catfish came boatside.

The drop-off we were fishing extended for 150m, and as we neared the middle of the ledge my plastic got nailed. I immediately lost 20m of braid on the first run before the hooks pulled. I was devastated.

The slow heats up

We motored back to where we had started the drift and we found the tide had slowed. This allowed us to keep in better touch with the plastics.

The other two were having success with a pearl/blue coloured plastic, so logically I decided to fish something different – a rainbow trout pattern. First cast I hooked a 40cm snapper that gave me absolute curry on the light line I was using before being landed. When we hit the middle stretch of the ledge again we had a double hook-up on quality snapper. A quick check of the clock and we realised we’d have to go back to work soon, so we decided to finish the drift and then try the drop-off on the other side of the river right on slack water.

We could do no wrong at this stage until the next fish I hooked broke through my leader loop knot. As I was re-rigging, Gav struck into the best fish of the morning – a fat Brisbane River snapper.

It’s time

It’s common knowledge that slack water is the ideal time to target jewfish, especially if there’s a bit of fresh in the system. The spot we headed to was a beacon which marks the drop-off of a 12-foot ledge in to the main river channel, which is about 40 feet deep.

This spot holds good numbers of fish but there is always some current pushing through and it’s a lot easier to fish at slack water. We made our approach under electric power and we all fired casts into the hot spot around the beacon.

As soon as my plastic reached the bottom a few taps indicated an interested fish that soon decided the plastic was good enough to eat – I was into another fit snapper. As I was playing my fish Tony started yelling. I turned to see a fully loaded rod and a half empty spool getting more empty by the second.

With the fish well hooked the call of jewie was muttered and a tough battle ensued. Out of us all Tony had the rig to handle a big fish – a 7’6” Nitro rod rated from 6-10kg matched to a Daiwa Force 3500 reel spooled with 9kg Yamatoya PE Braid and a 16lb fluorocarbon leader. His plastic was a 5” Ecogear Power Shad in a clear pink colour rigged on a 1/4oz jighead.

After a spirited fight the fish had one last trick up its sleeve – to run Tony around the very beacon it came from, but Tony applied the right pressure at the right time to steer it away. With the fish in open water it was only a matter of time before the big silver flanks of a jewie were resting safely in the net.

Plan executed

Back at the ramp and ready to head off to work, we reflected over the morning’s events. We realised it was a well executed plan.

The theory was solid and held up under testing, and the bait and predators were where they were supposed to be. The main goal was to catch a jewie, and with this accomplished we headed for work.

It’s a good feeling when a plan comes together, so next time you’re about to head out, take a moment to consider what’s been happening with the weather, tides and bait and make a plan, then stick to it.

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