The sun is just beginning to sneak over the horizon while a chilly southwester claws at your back. You pull your beanie down a bit tighter and send a long cast in the direction of the coming day. The lure sinks below the surface and heads for the bottom: 20 feet down and just out from the shallow reef edge. But the plastic never makes it. Halfway down it’s intercepted by a snapper that almost tears the rod out of your hand on the strike. A few tense minutes later, there is a beautiful pink fish with iridescent blue spots beside the boat, waiting for the net.
Welcome to July on Moreton Bay! It really is worth the effort to be out on the bay in the dead of winter; not only is it great fishing, but those cold mornings often give way to glorious glassed out winter days.
Chasing snapper in daytime on plastics is really popular at this time of year. Plenty of fish between 40-80cm can be found in 5-8m of water, hugging the reef ledges and drop-offs around the Bay Islands. Anywhere from Macleay through to Mud Island can be productive and don’t forget the mainland drop-offs from Ormiston to Wellington Point.
The water can be extremely clear in winter so keeping leaders light – around 8-12lb – will improve hook-up rates, as will staying a little bit further away from the reef when casting. Spraying scents such as Slime It or Stimulate on the plastics can also encourage bites from wary fish. Try plastics with more natural colour patterns and slow your presentation down. If you are already working them really slowly, try a lighter jighead for a slower descent.
Most of the fish activity on calm clear days will focus around the points on the reef where the current runs the hardest. Use the slack water at the bottom of the tide to go and investigate new reef areas. The amount of information you can gather by having a stickybeak around the shallows on the glassed out days is quite amazing. I use my GPS to mark out prospective drop-offs so that I can come back and fish them at other times when the reef edge isn’t visible.
Jewfish are another great winter species that show up in the Southern Bay at this time of year. They generally frequent the deeper holes in the Bay, venturing out to feed on the slack water at the turn of the tides. Although the next jewie to be caught on a prawn and tiny whiting hook won’t be the last, generally anglers adhere to the ‘big baits for big fish’ theory. Live legal-size tailor, mullet and yellowtail pike are all great baits to use.
Fishing around the deep holes at Peel, Macleay and Goat islands on the bottom of the tide through the night is as close as you’ll get to a sure thing with these big beasts. At the time of writing, several jewfish from 18-25kg have been caught, so there are definitely a few to be had around the place if you put in the hours.
If snapper and jewfish don’t tickle your fancy, try bream and tailor in the shallows on a rising tide, flathead around the sandbanks on a falling tide, or squid over the weedbeds when it is nice and calm.
For more information 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. Until next month, tight lines.Reads: 842