Pelagics moving in
  |  First Published: November 2004

Bundaberg has experienced one of the best years of fishing in living memory, with excellent fishing in the rivers and dams. Offshore has been a little slow lately due to massive bait schools on the reefs, but that will soon change – the big pelagics such as mackerel are due this month, busting up these schools. We are also due for a bit of summer rain, which will liven up the fishing in all areas.

Barramundi are going off in the Monduran Dam, and if you want to take advantage of this great fishery the guys at Salty’s tackle in Bundaberg can tell you the best tackle and tactics to catch some monster barra. Try to catch a northerly breeze, as this will increase your chances. Monduran Dam is a picturesque spot with great camping facilities, and it’s a great place to take the family for a weekend. Any one can catch a fish – it’s easy at this time of year, whether you’re fishing from a boat or just walking the banks.

Offshore fishing

I started this month up around the islands, going north of Lady Musgrave up to Fitzroy Reef, and we caught some great wahoo and Spaniards trolling on the 100m line. We also caught some great reef fish jigging the shelf edges on the outside of the islands.

I love staying in the beautiful lagoon at lady Musgrave Island, having an early morning snorkel checking out the vast array of coral and fish in crystal clear water before starting a hard day’s work fishing. However, I found that it was even more impressive snorkelling in the Fitzroy Lagoon because it has suffered less pressure from tourism. The colours of the coral and the number of fish certainly surpassed Lady Musgrave Lagoon.

The weather became rough so we decided to head for Pancake Creek, 12 nautical miles north of the township of 1770 and within easy reach of the Bunker group of islands to the east. Pancake Creek is one of the most beautiful places on the Queensland coast, and you’ll find an article about it written by Bob Brandis in the October issue of QFM. This place has great estuary fishing and crabbing, and also has some of the best looking offshore fishing just off the coast, with the Inner, Outer and Middle rocks easily accessible to small boats. Be warned, however, that this place has a tragic history of shipwrecks. Sea conditions can get very dangerous here.

We fished around Outer Rock, catching some great Spanish mackerel up to 30kg, and the reefs around supplied plenty of reef fish such as coral trout to keep our BBQ busy at night. We had a marvellous two-day stay as part of a special tailored charter for a Sydney client.

We have also been fishing around the spit of Fraser Island chasing sailfish and marlin, staying at Rooney’s Point overnight in the sheltered waters of Hervey Bay. It’s amazing to see the increasing numbers of whales passing through this area every year, creating a great backdrop to the gamefishing charters we do around this end of the island. We have been having great success with deepwater jigging in the 60m areas on the shelf at the northern end of the island, catching some huge trevally, amberjack, coral trout, snapper and many more.

We have also discovered some great reef areas in shallow water up against the side of the spit, with schools of huge giant trevally. We targeted these by tossing poppers over the shallow reef, and those huge brutes came out and tried to pull us into the reef. We have had some great success with catching these monsters, but it’s not for the faint hearted as these guys don’t play fair. It was great to sit in the flybridge of our 36ft Blackwatch and watch these monsters dart in from the reef and compete with each other to eat a popper, only to turn around and pull a heavy load of drag off and try to cut the line off in the reef. We also have been catching some big Spanish and shark mackerel using this technique.

Dolphinfish are ever present right through the area of the spit, hanging on every bit of reef, flotsam and jetsam. They have making great sport on light tackle, with great aerial displays, and are great on the plate.

We are still doing inshore reef fishing trips in Kato our 28ft Shark Cat, catching some great fish on the inshore reefs around Bundaberg. Parrotfish have been around in large numbers this month but I can’t wait for November through to December, as last year we caught some monster coral trout and red emperor right through the Christmas period. On the wrecks we have large schools of trevally, cobia and amberjacks, which we entice using livebaits. Raider lures and knife jigs have also accounted for some monster amberjacks and last November and December they scored some wahoo as well.

Large longtoms are hanging off the wrecks hitting the small Raiders. These fish are often hooked in the tail, as the usually smash the bait with their large, muscular tails.

November through to December is my favourite time of year to be on the water – with all the big fish around it makes my job easy. If you are in Hervey Bay or Bundaberg and want to experience some of the best sportfishing and gamefishing in the world, come out with us and get a taste of some reel action. This area holds some of the biggest sportfish in the world. You can call us on 0427 590 995 or (07) 4159 0995.


1. Roger Cowl with a giant trevally caught off the spit of Fraser Island.

2. Inside Pancake Creek. This picturesque location is a great place to camp.

3 Brad Hearn with a wahoo from Lady Musgrave.

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