Over the past month a noticeable temperature change has kicked a few summer favourites into gear. The bay is benefiting from this, with plenty of action.
Some good schools of tuna are starting to spread through the bay. Most are mack tuna and are a formidable force on light tackle. There are a few longtail tuna mixed in to keep things interesting.
The tuna can be targeted with conventional methods, such as a chrome slug, but remember to match your lure size to the baitfish the tuna are feeding on. Poppers work well if the school has sounded (gone deep) and are not breaking the surface. This could be because the tuna think this is a fleeing bait and they rise back to the surface to finish them off – the end result being that they target your popper.
One of my favourite lures for this style of fishing is a Lively Lures Fat R because it imitates a fleeing baitfish well. Soft plastics also work when the tuna are feeding on very small baitfish. One recent session saw a mate and me casting at small schools of mack tuna around the 2-3kg mark. I was using a 2kg bream outfit that consisted of a 6’ Daiwa Heartland X rod and Daiwa Caprice reel that was finished off with a 1/4oz jighead and a 2” Berkley Powerbait. My mate used a Shimano TSS4 reel, 6kg threadline and lead slugs. The end result was nine mack tuna to the plastics and four to the heavy spin outfit. We put the result down to the heavier outfit not being able to match the small glassy baitfish the tuna were feeding on that day.
Another Moreton Bay soft plastic target is the cobia. Cobia get really big and they go off when hooked. Cobia usually fight fair and play up near the surface, but don’t think they won’t wrap your line around a beacon or bommie if given half a chance. Some successful plastics include 5” jerkbaits, 6” Squidgy Fish and, for targeting the smaller cobia, the 3” Berkley Powerbaits work well.
And small fish aren’t the only things to take small plastics – a mate of mine fishing around Peel Island landed a 1.4m cobia while using a 3” Powerbait after an hour-long fight on 7kg spin tackle. They chased the fish all over the bay before landing it, too, so it was an awesome catch. Cobia respond very well to berley and often take plastics drifted down the trail like a natural bait.
There have been some cracker mackerel showing their toothy grins around the place. The Rainbow Channel has had the thickest concentrations of fish, with spotted mackerel up to 3kg being common. There have been some Spanish mackerel making their way into the Bay too, but I have not heard of many being caught yet.
The biggest surprise is the quality of the snapper being taken around the islands. A recent report at Captain Bligh’s was of a couple of 20lb fish falling to anglers using 7” soft plastics fished on size 4 hooks with weight to suit the conditions. This could be a sign of things to come and could mean the return of some big summer snapper. Be warned though – don’t give these fish an inch or they will clean you up in the reef quick smart.