Trolling up a treat
  |  First Published: September 2004

EVERYBODY is talking about the new green zones and how local anglers have been affected.

I find it hard to work out on a chart each time where I can fish. We have to be extremely careful to double-check every spot before we fish it. I’m hoping in the near future we’ll have a chart that will have an overlay with the green zones on [Magellan has released a chart containing the green zones – Ed].

At the same time there has been some stirring at federal level from the coastal communities of Queensland who aren’t happy about having their state fenced off by bureaucrats from GBRMPA. So we may be able to turn this around with everybody’s support.


The fishing has been very tough offshore, with large schools of bait over the reefs and the wreck sites making it very hard to get a bait to the bottom. Big schools of trevally are haunting the reefs and we have been catching and releasing over 50 per day. Most of the reef fish must have moved into the green zones so they can be safe, as not too many great catches have been recorded this month. Big cobia are around on all the reefs and wrecks, with the Althea and The Karma being two of the best. Another spot worth trying is the Kolan Patch, which has been delivering some good Spanish mackerel.

No great catches of snapper are being reported. There seem to be plenty of small ones although I did hear of some mates jigging at Sandy Cape catching a 16lb (7.5kg) one. We’ve been catching lots of good-size parrot but red emperor have been very quiet with not too many big ones being caught around Bundaberg. Sweetlip have also been on the small side recently, but I’m expecting good things this month as we caught some big sweetlip at this time last year.

We have just purchased a 36-foot Blackwatch and have started doing gamefishing and jigging trips out of Bundaberg and Hervey Bay. We didn’t have too much luck on our first trip, dropping a sailfish, but we managed to catch some nice tuna and can’t wait to get back out again.

The waters off the northern end of Fraser Island are full of marlin and sailfish, and at the moment it’s very pleasing on the eye with all the whales frolicking around. On a recent trip we saw humpbacks, pilot whales and large schools of dolphins. The waters are also full of bait and there are many pelagic species running up the side of the Spit and around the shoal areas, making this area perfect for lure casting with poppers and suchlike.


Trolling is a great form of sportfishing and can be done with many varieties of lures and bait. Here’s how I run my skirted lures on the back of the boat.

On my boat I have outriggers, which are great for making lures spread over a wider area. I think of my boat as a big school of bait moving across the surface that the fish will see and come in to attack. The fish see the prop wash and hear the low frequency sound of the motors and are attracted to the boat on this alone. You might have seen dolphins come to the boat out of curiosity. Billfish, tuna and other species do the same.

When you troll you can make your boat look even more attractive by running teasers. There are many different types of teasers – you might have a mirrored teaser which will flash through the water, a daisy chain or spreader bar type, or you might just use a flat fender with an old lure tied behind to create a bubble trail and more water disturbance. From a fish’s perspective, it looks like there’s a lot happening on the surface. The fish are attracted to this, thinking they’ll get an easy meal.

Then you have your lures, five in total, with a boat with outriggers. The lures on the outriggers sit on the outside of the wash, looking like weaker fish not keeping up with the school. The lures in the back corners sit in line with the props and are usually seen through windows in the whitewash created by the props.

If you have an extra rigger on top, this is called the shotgun. It’s placed well back behind the wash, right at the back of all the other lures.

With all this in place, all you have to do is take it past where the fish are (which is another story in itself)!

The way you place your lures on the boat is important. On one side of the boat I have the long side on my boat it is the starboard side and the other is the short side on the port side. Each point is given a name: ‘long rigger’, ‘long corner’, ‘short rigger’, ‘short corner’ and ‘shotgun’ [see diagram].

The starboard side is the light side where I run lumo sprocket colours like green and blues. The port side is the dark side is where I run my purples and black colours. Lure colour and selection is a big subject, so talk to your local tackle store for which lure works best in each position.

Lastly, remember that it’s important to have your lures swimming right. If you have slant-faced lures you may have to pin them so the hooks and the face of the lure face the right way. The general rule is, the bigger the face of the lure the closer the boat it will go. With all of these variables, it’s best to start with cup-faced lures like Pakulas – and don’t just buy one, buy the spread of lures and work them together. If you don’t have outriggers you can usually run three lures from the back of the boat.

Anyway, see what you can make of it. You’ll be surprised what you can catch on a good spread of lures.


This month will see much of the same but we will see some blue marlin and sails in September and if the wind stays down the reefs will fire.

Monduran Dam started to deliver some great-size barra last September, with fish around the 90cm mark being caught readily in the shallows. The Burnett River will see the barramundi and the mangrove jack come on with the warmer water.


1) The crew on Kato after a recent reef fishing trip.

2) Frank with a nice red emperor caught aboard Kato.

3) Tim Mulhall with a head that he pulled off a big coral trout.

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