More good times ahead
  |  First Published: April 2004

THE FISHING in Bundaberg offshore waters was great in the last month and we’re looking for big results in the month ahead.

The mackerel have arrived, in particular the larger Spanish mackerel which are smashing up bait schools along the coast. Among these mackerel have been free spirited sailfish and black marlin jumping clear of the water around the spur country, the southern gutter and 500m from the beach at Innes Park. The sails are large – around 80kg to 100kg – and the little blacks range from 40kg up. These fish are a welcome surprise for local anglers who are usually under-gunned to cope with these speedsters. You hear a lot of talk around the boat ramps about the billfish that got away, and just the other day a friend of mine who lives on the coast said he’d seen sails freely jumping along the coast up to a mile offshore.

Large schools of bait along the coast have encouraged large schools of tuna, mackerel and billfish, and they should hold along the coast here until at least June, making for great lure- and baitfishing. A fish you don’t often see closer than the Bunker group of islands is the wahoo. We caught one in close on one of the offshore wrecks and around the 26kg mark, and he gave a good account of himself on 15kg but soon folded.

With the onset of cooler weather the inshore reefs start firing with snapper, and the best way to catch these guys is early morning or late afternoon into night with a little berley. The best inshore reefs for small boats are the Cochrane Artificial Reef, the Two-Mile, the Four-mile, the trawler wreck, the Steeping Stones and the Barjon. These reefs are readily accessible in winter offshore conditions and its surprising how big these fish get. One of the great bycatches of snapper are red emperor and sweetlip.

The Bundaberg Sports Fishing Club (BSFC) had their monthly competition just recently. We had windy conditions for offshore fishing but we came in with three Spanish mackerel over 7kg. Some of the guys went out on the Friday night before and caught a nice mixed bag of reef fish at the Stepping Stones with some big sweetlip being their best, weighing in nicely at the comp. We have a crew from the BSFC taking Kato to Hervey Bay to fish in the Tuna Challenge. Salty’s Tackle store here in Bundaberg has supplied us with the wealth of knowledge from the fisherman who work there and supplied us with lures and the latest techniques.

Our charter boat Kato has been catching some great reef fish this month, with red emperor being the most popular this month. Large schools of juvenile reds have been making it hard to penetrate through to the big guys; with the new size limit of 55cm they weigh over 4kg.

The big sweetlip are still trying to straighten out our arms, regularly coming in at over 5kg at the northern gutter. Parrot are back and there are some good sizes coming on board. These are one of my favourite eating fish.

Huge schools of trevally are cruising over the wreck sites and I’ve been nailing these guys with a trolled dead mullet swum deep on the downrigger. We use this method to catch some of the huge black king (cobia) that hang off these wrecks.

The Burnett River has been fishing great for big bream around jetties, rock walls and pylons, and these fish offer a great alternative to offshore fishing when the wind blows. Some of the guys who have hired our boats recently have been using the electric motors to hunt these fish in stealth mode, and are nailing some great bream on soft plastics.

If you’d like to go on offshore charter, want to hire a boat set up for estuary and impoundment fishing or want information on local guides, give me a call at Bundaberg Fishing Charters and Hire Boats on 0427 590 995. If you’re bringing your own boat I can give you an update of what’s biting in the area or GPS coordinates/marks, and just some good sound local knowledge.

1) This beaut sailfish was caught from the charter boat Kato earlier this year.

2) John from Canada with a 22lb red emperor.

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