Productive drift fishing
  |  First Published: November 2004

Fishing the grounds east of Moreton Island at this time of year can be quite productive, even though the spring weather pattern can be erratic.

An area I like to fish at the moment is Shallow Tempest, which tends to fish well for most species around now. Shallow Tempest is an extensive area of reef, running nearly the full length of Moreton Island and ranging in depth from around 20-40m. Quality squire and snapper to around 6kg move into this area of reef in the latter months of the year and are well worth targeting. I like to drift fish the outer edges of the reef, where it drops away to around 30-40m of water. The reef runs north-south, so if you can get the right conditions you can get a drift which runs a kilometre or two down the outside edge of the reef.

Anchoring and berleying also works well but I prefer to drift and cover a bit more area, looking for a patch of fish on the chew, then anchoring on that piece of ground if conditions permit.

Fishing with the traditional paternoster rig will catch fish, but the better quality specimens will come by float-lining. Fish with the sinker on the hooks and use only enough lead to get the bait into the strike zone. Two or three ganged 5/0s will do the trick, and pillies or fresh strip baits such as mullet, tailor or tuna are the go.

When I fish this relatively shallow water I use two outfits. The first is a spin outfit with a Baitrunner-style reel, so as soon as I pull up on the start of the drift line I can cast the bait away from the boat, whack it in the rod holder and it will slowly float back and look after itself.

The second outfit is just a normal overhead rod and reel, and I hold onto this and control the speed at which the bait sinks into the strike zone.

Line of 30-40lb is plenty, but still expect to be blown away occasionally but the odd large amberjack or yellowtail king that frequent the area.

Fishing in this depth of water is a nice change from the deeper water and the results are also very rewarding. Other target species include spangled emperor, Moses perch, Maori cod and cobia. It’s also easier to spook feeding fish in the shallower water, so remember not to drive back up your drift line. Go well wide of the line and limit the use of your sounder once you’ve found the fish.

Late September and early October saw some fairly patchy fishing. Some reasonable squire and snapper were caught on the southern 29s and 33s, but overall the catches were inconsistent.

Lately I’ve been spending most charters livebaiting the deeper water of the 35 to 42 fathom areas, and the clients have been boating quality amberjacks, yellowtail kingfish, some XOS trag jew and the odd snapper. When livebaiting like this we use 24kg tackle and a paternoster rig made from 80-00lb leader, and a single livebait hook through the nose of the livie. It’s a simple but effective way to fish deeper water, and when hooked up on a good fish it’s a real tug-of-war.

Overall, even though the weather patterns at this time of year are erratic, the fishing is usually worth the effort if you can bet a good day.

Enjoy your fishing, and if you’d like to join me on a charter (max. 4 persons) give me a call on (07) 3822 9527 or 0418 738 750.


1) Peter Hinze with a typical 33s squire.

2) John and Lawrie with the results of a double hook-up on the 35s – a couple of hard fighting amberjack.

3) Jeff Lean with a rare catch – 8kg of blue Maori from the 35s.

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