Chrome and fly catching the macks
  |  First Published: July 2005

After last month’s black attack we haven’t had much gamefishing action as we haven’t been out to the spit, but we have been fishing inshore and nailing some great Spanish mackerel.

Over the past month the offshore reefs were inundated with small spotted and school mackerel, and schools of tuna swarmed up the coast. Everywhere you looked there were longtails and mack tuna, with the odd Watson’s leaping bonito, splashing on the surface. As I write, however, the water temperature has dropped considerably and so has the action on the offshore reefs.

Inside the mouth of the Burnett River there are large schools of herring around the wharves and along the rock walls, and these have attracted plenty of small mackerel and tuna into the river. On some days you can throw anything at these fish and they will take it, but normally they are very smart and will only fall to the best imitation. If you catch one it’s a good idea to shake it upside-down before returning it to the water to see what it has eaten (or, if you want to keep it, just cut open its stomach). You can then match the size of the bait to your chrome lure or fly.

Chrome lures work well when jigged or retrieved at high speed, but flies are just perfect; they seem to have the edge on lures. You can also catch macks and tuna by towing lures but a fly rod or spin stick is a lot more fun.

I haven’t been to the spit lately but word is there are still small blacks free jumping out along the bar. The most recent reports have seen them free jumping around the spit and the shoals area.

Reef fishermen are still catching plenty of red emperor, sweeties, parrot and snapper. With the colder weather upon us, a lot more small boats are going out late in the afternoon to take advantage of the offshore winds which blow the sea flat. It’s time for the annual migration of the snapper into these waters, and all through winter is a great time to catch these monsters. Favourite spots are the Cochrane Artificial Reef and the trawler wreck off Elliot Heads. Other spots that are popular with larger boats are the 20-fathom hole, southern gutter and the northern gutter.

On a recent flyfishing trip it was great to see huge schools of longtom and trevally south of the Barjon wreck. We were teasing up longtom on fly when a huge school of trevally came and sat beneath our boat. We targeted them with poppers, chrome jigs and saltwater fly, and it was an awesome spectacle as the trevally came in and smashed our lures.


My mate Paul has been having good fun up Baffle Creek, and on recent trips he’s managed to catch plenty of big queenfish from the mouth of the Baffle right up the river. He has been catching these fish on live baits, as they haven’t been interested in soft plastic lures. I think it would be a great place to hit with a small fly set-up.

Paul has also caught plenty of dart around the river mouth and still manages to get the odd big flathead trolling lures and by casting soft plastics and hard-bodies. If you feel the need to get out on a charter on the river give Paul a call for a great weekend away.

The mouth of the Burnett River has been firing on all cylinders with huge schools of tuna and mackerel right up to the port facility. Huge numbers of boats have been fishing this area, and it’s been great to see plenty of families enjoying the experience of fishing.

David Magna of Bundy has been having a great time cleaning up on mack tuna, longtails and some big Spanish mackerel in the river mouth. He says the smaller type chrome lures have been giving the best results, especially during times of increased boat traffic. He hasn’t had the chance to flyfish for the macks and tuna yet but he’s sure they would go for a fly just as well as for a chrome jig.

TOURNAMENT TIME (small boats wanted)

If you think of yourself as a reasonable angler, catching bream, flathead bass and barra, I challenge you to try the ultimate in sportfishing: catching marlin and sailfish. The Hervey Bay Boat Club Game Fishing Club is having its annual tournament in November of this year. The great thing for small boat owners is they can fish in the safe water inside Fraser Island and stay on a mothership at the Rooney’s Point.

The three-day tournament runs from Friday to Sunday, with everyone meeting on the Thursday night to sign on and participate in the Calcutta. You can load our fuel barge with your own fuel drums and they will be taken to Rooney’s Point for you so refuelling is not a problem. You can drive your own boat up to Rooney’s Thursday night or Friday morning and meet up with your mothership that night where you can relax with a hot meal and a few beers before bed. All your food and mothership facilities cost a little extra but it’s certainly worth having the opportunity to fish this area.

The area inside the island is full of marlin, mackerel and sailfish and gives the smaller boats the opportunity to fish against the other larger vessels on an even playing field, so it’s definitely one to put in your calendar. The dates aren’t set yet but we know it will be around mid-November, so watch this space for more info or give me a call at Bundaberg Fishing Charters on 0427 590 995 or 0741 590 995.


1) James MacDonald with an 11kg Spanish mackerel caught on The Watch-Tower.

2) Thomas Wood with his first longtail tuna.

3) Ian Borland with a Spanish mackerel caught aboard The Watch-Tower.

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