Remarkable reds
  |  First Published: March 2004

THE FISHING has been great in Bundaberg with warm conditions bringing in the mackerel and tuna. Large schools of bait are boiling off the coast and the options are endless.

We recently tried throwing small 2-3cm chrome lures into the schools with great results. The best way to do this is to place the boat on the windward side of the school and drift into the school. My friends and I recently had a great time on 6kg and 4kg tackle. The first fish caught was a 9kg mack tuna caught on the 6kg gear. It didn’t really know it was hooked and it swam with the school before tail wrapping itself, ending helplessly beside the boat. I saw this thinking a 9kg fish on 6kg line wasn’t that great so I cast out my 4kg outfit and was soon smoked on a similar size fish after a rigorous fight of 45 minutes. This is where Bundaberg waters have the edge on other areas because of the shallow water you have a good chance of landing good size fish on light gear.

You can also try flyfishing for these little dynamos with the opportunity of catching other great fish. In these schools it’s not uncommon to catch small black marlin, sailfish and, as you move out further towards the islands, big blues, blacks and striped marlin. All through the first quarter of this year these billfish are abundant in our waters.

Bundaberg is also famous for its mackerel which run through to June, offering a great alternative to bottom fishing and making a mess of skirted lures trolled by game fisherman. You can catch the mackerel on livebaits, lures, large dead baits, flies and really anything you can throw at them – just don’t underestimate these guys as they hit the baits very quickly and have a very hard and fast initial run. The ciguatera toxin doesn’t seem to be a problem in fish under 10kg (which make fabulous eating) but it’s best to release the big ones.

Around Bundaberg there are some great reefs and wreck sites within 10 miles of the coast, and one of the most famous is the Two Mile Reef, only two miles off Bargara, where the locals catch the best mackerel in 3-4m tinnies. The artificial reefs off Woodgate and Elliot Heads also produce great fish year-round and double as dive sites. Both reefs are only two miles from the coast and are easily accessible in small boats.

We’ve have had a great month on the charter boat Kato and the fish of the month has been red emperor. We’ve caught some huge specimens up to 13kg, and we’re expecting more good catches throughout March. We’ve also caught some great coral trout and they seem to be warming up.

The MV Karma, which ran aground north of Bundaberg, has been dragged off the coast and sunk to form an artificial reef. Divers have reported large schools of yellowtail and trevally on the ship after only two weeks. This will become one of the great pelagic haunts off Bundaberg.

Here at Bundaberg Fishing Charters and Hire Boats we do light game charters and bottom bouncing in our 8m shark-cat, and we also have 4.3m Polycraft hire boats available as a ‘tow and go’ option. I can also set you up with the best guides to catch barra and jacks, or if you bring your own boat call me for some advice or offshore marks. You can contact me on (07) 4159 0995 or 0427 590 995, or email --e-mail address hidden--

1) Rob Wood with a 26lb red emperor caught onboard Kato.

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