The southern bay is a great place to be at this time of year. The cold nights are on the way out and the days are warm and comfortable. Snapper, tailor, school mackerel, cobia, flathead and winter whiting are all top targets this month. At the time of writing, the snapper in particular have been biting well around the southern bay islands, after a couple of months of relative quiet for the shallow reefs.
September is also the month that the dreaded northerly winds begin to make their presence felt in preparation for summer. While these winds can make fishing uncomfortable, they also push nutrients and baitfish down into the southern bay region. The water clarity is not as good as in winter but this doesn’t seem to worry the fish and in some cases can be a bonus.
Anglers chasing snapper on soft plastics in particular benefit from this weather shift, as the reduced visibility means fish become much more aggressive and less easily spooked around the shallow reefs in the daytime. Some of the prime spots are where northerly winds cause waves to pound the edge of coral reefs at Peel, Mud and Macleay islands and the reef edge from Wellington Point to Ormiston.
It can be difficult to fish in the rough conditions, however these stirred-up areas are full of dislodged and disoriented reef critters that make easy pickings for snapper, parrot, bream and sweetlip. On the right day, fishing the windward reefs can be very rewarding, sometimes producing a fish a cast. However, it is worth noting that it can be potentially dangerous too. Simple common sense and care need to be applied when positioning a boat in a location where wind and waves can push you onto a reef.
School mackerel can be found in the bay almost year round, but now is the prime time for these toothy critters. Trolling metal spoons on paravanes or deep-diving minnow lures along the edge of the Rous and Rainbow channels can be very productive, as can drifting gang hooked pilchards down a berley trail. Jigging with chrome slugs like Raiders and Sea Rocks or Snapback soft plastics over coffee rock reef in the same areas works well too.
Many anglers use wire traces when targeting mackerel because of the regular bite-offs, but they also possess eyesight as sharp as their teeth so using wire often results in a reduced catch. An alternative is to use a short length of heavy mono (30-40kg) that is changed regularly, although using a very short trace (10-15cm) of new generation fine diameter knot-able wire like Tyger Wire is gaining in popularity over traditional, heavy wire leaders.
Not many people chase cobia in the southern bay as most anglers head outside or to the artificial reefs at the top of the bay. However, at this time of the year they can turn up anywhere. As the first of the summer season blue swimmer crabs start migrating into the bay, the cobia (also known as crab eaters in some places) follow them.
Their sizes range from fun, school-sized fish around 4-10kg through to tackle destroying, back breaking 30kg-plus monsters. Anchoring on the edge of the Amity and Moreton banks or along the Rainbow and Rous channels are great spots to try. Cobia are also attracted to structure such as beacons in the deeper channels and reefs like Harry Atkinsons and the Houseboat at Peel Island.
Drifting pilchards and livebaits down a berley trail is a great way to get onto these fish. They also respond well to large soft plastic lures like Riptide Crabs, Snapbacks and Ecogear Minnows. For the smaller fish 6-10kg line is ideal, but the big ones deserve the strongest tackle you own.
A small group of dedicated fly anglers have been chasing cobia recently using large Deceivers and Pink Things on fast sinking lines and 14wt rods. They have had some amazing successes on fish up to 25kg, but have suffered some pretty serious tackle destruction along the way!
Until next month, tight lines. 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.Reads: 2013