Bubbling with action
  |  First Published: October 2004

BUNDABERG has so much to offer, everything from great river systems to coral reefs, and the great gamefishing off the sand spit that runs up north of Fraser Island.


The rain we had earlier in the year recharged our rivers with life, and we have experienced the best fishing in our river systems in years. Since then we haven’t had any rain and the fishing is staring to slow down, but nothing that a couple of centimetres of rain wouldn’t fix. We fishermen are dependent on seasonal changes and weather changes, and as we go from one season to the next we can only make the best of what we've got.

The river systems are about to liven up now that the warmer weather is coming on, and many species of fish are already being caught in the Burnett River. Big flathead are around, with fish of up to a metre being reported. Anglers are also getting into jewfish, fingermark, barramundi, trevally, queenfish mangrove jack and the occasional bream. In the month ahead we can hope to catch mangrove jack in the creeks as the water warms up. Barramundi are also starting to hot up in the dams and rivers. Don’t miss the Monduran Dam comp coming up, as this is one of the best run comps around.


Offshore we have been catching plenty of parrot but the are still heaps of yellowtail inundating the reefs, making it hard to sink a bait past to the bottom. We have been picking up the odd red emperor and coral trout around the reefs, keeping the customers happy.

Out on the shelf there have been plenty of dolphinfish and sailfish on the northern end of the spit north of Fraser Island. Around the bottom end, south of the 4-mile crossing, plenty of small black marlin are biting on garfish rigged as swim baits. Damon Olsen managed to tag eight blacks in one morning, also hooking up a 30kg dolphinfish out in the 100m area.

The month ahead will be very exciting with plenty of larger black marlin and blue marlin moving down from the north, with the small black marlin moving right down into Hervey Bay around Rooney’s point.

The Harvey Bay Boat Club is right behind gamefishing in the area, and has taken the Fraser Coast Game Fishing Club under its wing, bringing back some of the great fishing tournaments they used to have. These are being run in the traditional way, with mothership facilities opening up the northern end of Fraser Island for smaller boats and creating great camaraderie between boats anchored up at Rooneys. In Hervey Bay you don’t need a large boat because the island protects the bay from the onshore breeze, and refuelling from the mothership is a snack. We’re expecting big things with this club, so watch this space and come up and get involved in one of our tournaments. The boat club has berthing facilities and everything to keep visiting anglers comfortable.

On the news front, we have a new boat called Watch-Tower, a 36ft Blackwatch, which joins our 28ft Shark Cat Kato to offer gamefishing charters in the area. We do overnight and day charters to the islands, offering the best in air-conditioned comfort and luxury for visiting anglers. We can pick you up from Hervey Bay or Bundaberg with flights daily to both centres.


The skipping gar rig is one of the most successful bait rigs used along with a swimming gar. I use the skipping gar on the outriggers and have the swimming gar on the corners. Next month I will show you the swimming gar.

The great thing about garfish is they freeze and thaw well, making them very easy to use. You will need a 8/0 to 12/0 Gamakatsu SL12 hook but beware that these light gauge hooks will straighten very easily. They are best to use on gear up to 15kg. For heavier tackle use heavier hooks. I use about a metre of 100-200lb mono and crimp the line rather than tie knots. You might have to look in your mackerel fishing gear for some 120lb single-strand wire. The added options are one bait spring or a rubber band. I prefer the rubber band, a small octopus skirt and one small mould craft bubbler head.

Step 1. Snap the beak off the fish with your thumb and forefinger.

Step 2. Make the fish pliable by bending it backwards and forwards.

Step 3. Strip the stomach by rubbing your fingers down the abdomen, pushing the stomach contents out of the anus.

Step 4. Open the gill latch and feed the hook down the fish. Bring the hook out through the centre of the abdomen and push the 120lb single-strand wire through the bottom jaw.

Step 5. Place one end of the rubber band over the wire and wind it tightly around the head of the fish, finishing with the other end of the rubber band over the wire. Alternatively, you can screw on a bait spring.

Step 6. Pull the skirt and the bubbler head down over the bait.

Step 7. Attach snap-on and give it a swim.

I hope this will help with you with an extra rig to catch billfish and pelagics. If you are coming to Bundaberg and need information on the fishing, give us a call at Bundaberg Fishing Charters on (07) 4159 0995 or 0427 590 995.


1) A nice coral trout caught aboard Kato.

2) Ben Shorten with a dolphinfish caught aboard Watch-Tower.

3) The skipping gar rig ready to be loaded. Note the crimp used on the 200lb mono and the squid skirt below the bubbler head. This rig works very well when fished alongside swimming gar rigs.

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