Cool water species warm up
  |  First Published: May 2005

This month sees the cooling down of waters locally, bringing on the traditional winter species. Bream, tailor, flathead and snapper will become more common while the spotty mackerel, jacks and mack tuna will start to thin out. However, as long as the plentiful supply of bait remains in the southern bay, enough mackerel and longtail tuna will hang about to make it worth chasing them.

Trips on the southern bay in recent times have been mixed bag affairs, and it never ceases to amaze me the variety of species that turn up. From longtom to coral trout, there is always something interesting about.

The usual snapper and sweetlip have been common but the sizes have been mostly just legal or under. Throughout May the quality of snapper should increase and the bigger fish will move up from the deep water into the shallow reef edges of Peel, Mud, St Helena and Green islands.

As the water clarity improves coming into winter, it becomes critical to use light leaders and long casts to tempt wary snapper when using plastics. When fishing at night with livebait you can get away with much heavier tackle, but it’s still wise to fish as light as you can get away with.

We have also caught a fair few little GTs and big-eye trevally around the beacons at Peel and the pylons at Dunwich during snapper trips lately. We get done over regularly by big unstoppables on our light spin and fly gear at these locations, so its worth throwing a lure or livebait on heavier tackle if you want to have a wrestling match with a big cod, GT or kingfish.

Spanish mackerel have been turning up lately, anywhere from Peel Island to the Four Beacons and beyond, and most have been caught by anglers chasing spotted mackerel. Now that the restrictions on commercial mackerel fishing are starting to take effect, it’s wise to be prepared for anything when chasing pelagics in the bay. You never know when the big fellas will turn up! Spaniards have also been biting well just inside and out of the South Passage Bar.

Relatively few parrot have been caught this year, as it’s been difficult to find crabs for bait. Even so, they are there for those anglers who are dedicated enough to put in the hours.

Tailor schools will start to make their presence felt in May along the inside of Stradbroke Island and in front of Wellington Point, Cleveland and Redland Bay. Lightly weighted pillies drifted over the drop-offs after dark is a popular way to fish, but chasing the feeding schools during the day with chrome slugs or fly is also heaps of fun. It’s surprising how many good size tailor come up over the shallow reefs in the early morning. They are suckers for poppers, with Sugoi Splash IIs and Lucky Crafts working well. Natural colours work well during the day and black is a good choice at night.

Bream season also cranks up in May. If you want to get away from the crowds, try fishing around Pannikin or Long Island. With their shallow mud banks, channels and weed beds, there are a multitude of places to choose from. The shallows along the inside of Stradbroke Island can also turn on some great bream fishing in the early mornings on a rising tide, either by drifting baits or prospecting with hard-bodied lures.

Tight lines for May, and if you want some more info on the southern Moreton Bay area, come and see me at Fish Head (Cnr Broadwater Tce and Stradbroke St, Redland Bay) or call me on (07) 3206 7999.


1) Leon Parmenter with a 90cm snapper. Throughout May the average snapper size in the southern bay should increase.

2) Spanish mackerel have been turning up for anglers chasing spotties, so be prepared.

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