Serious winter action
  |  First Published: June 2005

For many anglers, winter is considered THE time to get serious on the water. The south-westerlies that come at night and in the early morning may be a bit on the chilly side but the days are generally calm and sunny. The fishing can be excellent, especially if bream, flathead, snapper and tailor are your targets. At the time of writing, all of these species were starting to make their presence felt around the Southern Bay.

Tailor have been caught around most of the usual haunts on pilchards at night; some as large as 6-8lb. Fish schooling on the surface are fun to target with chrome lures, Snap-Back plastics and flies, while the washes around the bay islands are most easily worked over using surface poppers.

Snipe, Goat and Coochiemudlo Islands are popular spots with the boaties in the south, with Cleveland Point, Wellington Point and St Helena Island through to Mud Island popular further up the bay. Although the rock wall and jetty at Redland Bay, and jetties at Victoria Pt and Wellington Pt are pretty consistent for land-based fishos, almost any piece of shoreline can produce good tailor on a rising tide in the evening, as the fish cruise the shallows looking for a feed.

The well-lit commuter ferry jetties and surrounds are also fantastic squid magnets at this time of the year. The structure and lights attract baitfish, which in turn, attract squid. The best times are on calm evenings usually in combination with a rising tide and jigs or cast nets are the most popular methods to use.

Cast nets are very effective when the squid are in large numbers but they tend to spook and scatter fairly quickly once the nets start hitting the water. Jigs are best worked with a slow mid-water retrieve incorporating pauses, lifts and drops. Think like a wounded baitfish or a gliding prawn and you will be in with a good chance. Sometimes the colour is very important, at other times the size is critical. When the going gets tough, the premium Japanese jigs with exquisite finishes and chemically sharpened pins can be worth their weight in gold, often out-fishing the cheaper models by 3 or 4 squid to 1.

The deeper reef areas from the mouth of the Rous Channel through to the Harry Atkinson’s Artificial are starting to fire for quality snapper in the 3-6kg range. Fluke tail plastics around 5-7” in length are very popular at the moment, especially in the lighter baitfish colours. Most of the hits are on the initial drop or the first couple of hops off the bottom.

June is also a great month for targeting bream, with a variety of methods being successful. On a rising tide at night, unweighted gut baits cast over the rock and coral edges close to shore will attract some thumper bream as well as a few screaming bust-ups from agro fish. On a morning rising tide, small poppers and shallow diving lures fished slowly over gravel patches and rock bars in 0.5-1m are a whole lot of fun. Smashing surface strikes and the odd trevally, tailor, jack or squid to keep you on your toes make this a very addictive form of fishing.

April and May have seen some excellent longtail tuna action in the Southern Bay, especially when they are pushing bait up against the Amity Banks on a falling tide. This activity will continue through winter for as long as the large schools of hardyheads stay around. The average longtail is between 8-10kg with some pushing 15kg and more.

Some days they will eat any lure or fly thrown at them while on others the fish become extremely picky. Generally, the more fishing and boat pressure they are under (or have had over preceding days) the tougher they get. Chrome slugs work well when they are not too fussy and skipping poppers can draw savage strikes when the fish are scattered singles and pairs, cruising all over the place.

As the season draws on, the best results are coming from finesse presentations with soft plastics, such as 4” Assassins and Zooms in light colours. Flies such as DNA Hologhosts, grey over white Peanut Butters and Surf Candies in 1/0 and 2/0 sizes have worked very well on the difficult longtails. The most critical part is how to approach the fish without spooking them. This could be a whole article in itself but in a nutshell, a slow and steady approach from up current or up wind, with very gentle changes in the throttle, so as not to alarm the fish with sudden changes in motor volume is the best way to go.

For more information on the southern Moreton Bay area, come and see me at Fish Head (Corner of Broadwater Tce and Stradbroke St, Redland Bay) or call me on (07) 3206 7999.

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