Bottom fishing improving
  |  First Published: August 2004

WITH the cooler months now with us the bottom fishing has been steadily improving with plenty of quality reef fish being boated. The fishing should be red hot over the coming months with snapper, pearl perch and amberjack all on the hit list.

North of the bar, areas like the 29s, 33s, 35s, Square Patch and Deep Tempest all hold good numbers of fish. Square Patch and Deep Tempest fish well at night for snapper and trag jew on the run up to the full moon, but remember the regulations for each. During the day I prefer to float fish with a sinker placed directly above a gang of two 6/0 or three 5/0 hooks. At night, bottom bouncing with a paternoster rig works just as well.

South of the bar, the Cathedrals reef has been holding good numbers of snapper, and this will continue in August. The Wave Rider beacon east of Point Lookout has been producing reasonable numbers of dolphinfish – just remember that they don’t freeze well, so only keep enough for a fresh feed.

The shallower grounds around Point Lookout are well worth the effort at this time of year, and spots like Boat Rock, The Group, The Halfway and One Mile reefs will all produce fish on their day. If you can get the right conditions with not too much run in the water, anchoring up and berleying will produce snapper and spangled emperor.

At this time of year southwest or northwest breezes often puff away for a few hours in the morning and when they get a little stronger, fishing within a few kilometres of the beach becomes a real option. Fishing the coffee rock in 10-20m can be productive, with a mixed bag the norm. I’m not saying you can go and fill an esky in no time at all, but with a little persistence you can usually boat a reasonable feed of fish.

Snapper, grassy sweetlip, Moses perch, parrot and Maori cod can all be caught in a well-laid berley trail by floating back lightly-weighted strip baits and whole pillies. Fish up to a few kilos are a stack of fun to catch on lighter outfits.

I prefer to fish with baitrunner-style and Alvey reels on slightly longer rods with a light tip. Line between 6-10kg is ideal, but the odd large blue parrot or sweetlip will dust you off, so try one heavier outfit baited with a crab. Tackle-busting cobia and the odd large winter Spaniard also cruise by from time to time, so having a livebait out under a balloon and another mid-water is a good investment.

Small sweetlip and whiptail are often in plague proportions, but with a little persistence the rewards will follow. Early morning and late afternoon are the peak times to fish this shallow water, or pick days when the water is a little murky.

On a recent charter we were confined to the coffee rock for the day after a good weather forecast went wrong. Although the reef fish played hard to get, one of my clients managed to land a 24kg cobia on 9kg line. It took a bit of patience, but the fish stayed up on top and behaved well. The cobia swallowed a small strip of mullet on ganged 3/0s.

Fishing the coffee rock is not everyone’s first choice, but on the days the westerlies are blowing hard, some good fishing can still be had.

The next of the big comps is just about upon us with the running of the 13th Straddie Classic (August 8-13). The Classic is a top week of fishing and fun and North Stradbroke comes alive with the hype. I can’t wait to get to Straddie to share a beer and yarn with the boys and experience the quality fishing that’s available.

So if you get the chance, come and fish the Classic – it’s a great experience.

Until next month, enjoy your fishing. If you’d like to join me on a charter (maximum 4 persons) contact me on 0418 738 750 or (07) 3822 9527.

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