CHASING the pelagics is still the go at the moment with things reasonably quiet on the bottom fishing scene. At the time of writing, mackerel are still dominating catches with schoolies, spotties and Spaniards all putting in good appearances.
On some recent charters, fishing the coffee rock reefs along Moreton Island produced mixed catches of the mackerel species with the odd cobia and small black marline showing up to make things interesting. The marlin have slammed trolled livebaits rigged on wire and haven’t seemed to be shy of the wire at all.
The early season Spanish mackerel have mostly been small fish in the 7-8kg range but are slowly building up to the stud fish that arrive in April in May, when fish better than 15kg are quite common. 15kg line is still plenty to handle these speedsters but I up my hook and wire size slightly to accommodate them.
So far, this season has been a repeat of the last in the school mackerel stakes with quality fish to 5kg boated on a regular basis. On a couple of occasions recently I’ve had school mackerel larger than some just-legal Spanish mackerel (75cm) in the icebox. School mackerel give a very good account of themselves for their size and are good fun on the lighter tackle.
Wahoo have been on the chew of late, with all their usual haunts producing a few fish. Hutchinson Shoal and The Group [a group of rocks just south of Boat Rock] and 7s off Point Lookout are all worth a troll. (Flat Rock is the usual hotspot for wahoo at this time of year, with April normally seeing fish 20kg and better, but due to those ridiculous closures we all miss out.) When chasing wahoo make sure your hooks are needle sharp to penetrate their hard beak-like mouths and always have reels well spooled with line to accommodate their blistering runs. Wahoo love skirted and large bibless lures dragged around at 12 knots or more, and likes like Hex Heads, Screamers and 7” Mac Baits all work well. Big livebaits such as bonito and small mack tuna attract some real XOS fish – one we boated at Flat Rock last year went 40kg – but keeping the bigger baits away from the local whaler sharks is a problem.
When the current hasn’t been belting there have been some quality amberjack landed around the Square Patch area on livebait. Further north in the Shallow Tempest area, spangled emperor, Moses perch and Maori cod have been making up the bulk of the catches. South of Point Lookout there have been a few good mulloway caught around the bottom end of the Cathedral Reef.
Late February and early March saw the South Passage bar pick up quite a bit of swell off the lows that were hanging off the coast, and with the swell coming in from the east and the tides ebbing, the pressure waves can be very steep and dangerous. It’s a good place to keep away from.
Until next month, enjoy your fishing. If you’d like to join me on a charter (max. four persons) contact me at Outlaw Charters on 0418 738 750 or (07) 3822 9527.
1) Early season Spaniards average 7-8kg, and build up to 15kg-plus in April and May.
2) Spotted mackerel are still putting in good appearances.Reads: 529