This is the best time of year to get your reels screaming on a summertime speedster or two.
I really enjoy fishing in March, as the mackerel and wahoo numbers peak and fish size is on the increase. The later season fish start averaging a few extra kilos, although January saw a good early run of Spanish mackerel in both the Cape Moreton and Point Lookout areas and fish between 10kg and 15kg were reasonably common. Early season Spaniards are normally in the 7-10kg range and the larger fish, which run from March through to June, are normally 10kg-plus, up to the odd XOS fish of 20kg or more.
Over the years my fishing technique for chasing mackerel has changed dramatically. I used to mainly tow dead baits such as bonito, tailor and gar on hooks ranging from 6/0 to 10/0 with reel drags set firm in order to secure a hook-up. Now I tow livebaits on smaller hooks with much lighter drag settings so I won’t pull the smaller hooks out of a running fish. Just like dead baits, which have to be well presented and swimming to get hit, a livebait has to look natural and unrestricted, which is where the smaller hooks come into their own.
Both livies and dead baits catch their fair share of fish, but I like the idea of less time rigging baits and more time with a bait in the water, especially when the fish are on the chew. The only downside is the time lost at the start when you have to catch the livebait, but it’s normally time well spent.
Quality, good-sized slimies, yakkas and tailor are premium tow baits, and having a few different spots to collect your bait is a bonus, when you can’t get the bait you want at the first spot. Mackerel can be a problem when jigging livies, and if you start losing jigs or coming up with half fish, it usually means that school or spotted mackerel are holding up on that bit of reef. Having a spin with a 35-40g Lazer, Raider or one of the new SureCatch Knights or Bishops will usually pay dividends in this situation.
At the time of writing, the bait grounds off the South Passage Bar are alive with yakkas and slimies. There are even small Australian bonito, but you’ll need tuna tubes if you want to keep them alive.
A couple of locations that are well stocked with bait at the moment are the bait reef a couple of kilometres north of the northern gutter in 20m of water, and the coffee rock along Moreton Island. These are well worth having a troll around before going elsewhere.
On my most recent charters trolling the coffee rock along Moreton Island, school and Spanish macks have been in good numbers, with a sprinkling of spotties mixed in. There have also been a few big longtail tuna amongst them. One we boated went better than 20kg and kept the angler busy for around 45 minutes on the light tackle.
Cobia to 15kg have been in good numbers in the shallow water around Cape Moreton, and small black marlin and the odd sailfish have been turning it on for the billfish boys. Reef fishing has been fairly slow of late, but when the weather has allowed we’ve been picking up some quality pearlies in the deep water wide of Point Lookout.
Enjoy your fishing, take care on the coastal bars and if you’d like to join me on a charter (max. 4 persons) call me on 0418 738 750 or (07) 3822 9527.
1) James Polsford with a nice coffee rock Spaniard.
2) Adam Journeaux with 20kg of longtail tuna. This fish ate a live slimy mackerel.Reads: 1317