Bountiful Bay Fishing
  |  First Published: December 2005

In my opinion, summer is as all about critters with bad attitudes and even worse teeth. At the time of writing, razor mouthed spotty mackerel are already starting to show up in the Bay. Small sharks (as well as a few big noahs) are moving in from offshore and tackle destroying mangrove jacks are becoming active in the rivers. Over summer grassy sweetlip feast on reefs that just love to bury you in the coral and kingfish and trevally around beacons and rock walls.

The waterways start to get a little crowded from December onwards; early mornings and late afternoons are generally the best time to be out on the water. This also gets you out of the heat of the day, making life on the Bay more comfortable.

This summer is shaping up to be an excellent one for spotted mackerel. They can be found anywhere from Macleay Island north with some of the most popular spots including the north western side of Peel Island, the Rous and Rainbow Channels, the Brisbane River mouth and all the shipping channel beacons leading up the Bay.

When looking for schools of surface feeding mackerel they can be distinguished from tunas by their tendency to slash on the surface, spraying water around without clearing the water. Longtails often jump clear of the water and mack tunas usually porpoise along on the surface with their backs out of the water. Tuna and mackerel often feed together, and mackerel are also found underneath tuna, but if you have a choice of schools to chase it helps to be able to identify them by the way they feed.

When pursuing surface feeding schools it’s best to approach from up current as they usually feed against the moving tide. Casting small chrome lures like Raiders and Sea Rocks to the leading edge of the school will usually get a rapid response. Mackerel usually respond well to the speed and it seems to result in more lip hook ups and consequently less bite offs. Most people resort to using wire traces on mackerel lures at some stage or other, but on all but their most suicidal days their sharp eyesight will have them avoiding you. Sometimes ultra fine single strand or Tyger wire will work well but usually it’s back to mono leaders and hope for the best.

The other approach for spotty mackerel is to use live baits and pilchards fed down a burley trail. This works extremely well when the fish are not working on the surface or are suffering from ‘lure fatigue’ after seeing hundreds of lures over a busy weekend.

Small whaler sharks are fun, tasty and relatively easy to catch over the hottest months of the year. Live baits and fillets or whole pike, tailor and mullet are the top baits to use. Wire traces are justifiably popular for sharks, but the tiny electrical current they generate might put them off. A metre of 150lb mono works well, although big sharks will still bite you off (they are probably the ones you don’t want to get too close to anyway).They can be caught at night off any jetty or rock wall along the bay side at this time of the year, along any deep stretch of bank in the Logan and Brisbane Rivers and at any of the drop offs around the Bay’s islands.

Secure the hooks to the bait carefully as the sharks will give the bait a good shake before trying to swallow it. Small zip ties are ideal for the job. When the shark picks up the bait, let them run with it for a few metres (or more if the bait is large) before striking, so that the fish can get the bait down properly. There is no need to go overboard with tackle for Bay sharks, just a quality rod and reel combo with a smooth drag and 200m of 6-10kg line is ideal.

Until next month, tight lines, or 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 on 07 3206 7999.

1. Mike Connolly and Tony Shao with a quality mixed bag from the southern bay2. The author with a nice jewfish caught on a light loomis spin outfit and ecogear soft plastic.
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