Offshore Smash
  |  First Published: May 2009

The last month again saw fairly limited opportunities to head offshore but when we could get out there the fish really turned it on. Amberjacks, kingfish and some good quality early season squire made up the bulk of the catches.

The wider reefs such as the 35, 37, and 42 fathom reefs produced most of the fish but, as the water temp drops a little more this month, squire and snapper will be worth targeting along the 29 and 33 fathom lines.

The southwesterly winds we received in early May, might mean we get a real winter this year, and hopefully a red-hot snapper season along with it. Sharks are still a problem on the wider grounds with sometimes up to three sharks chasing a hooked fish to the boat – and they’ve been catching plenty. With the new size limit of 75cm for amberjack we’ve had to throw a lot of exhausted fish back over the side. I just wonder how many make it back to the bottom – not many I’m sure…

There’s still a few school and Spanish mackerel, plus the odd wahoo and yellowfin tuna, hanging around the coffee rock in tight to Moreton Island and over Point Lookout way. Even with the water temp dropping this month, don’t be afraid to drag a couple of high speed lures in the Point Lookout area, especially around the Sevens or the Group. On the same token, slow trolled live, or a correctly rigged dead, tailor or small bonito are proven big fish takers. You wont get as many strikes as when your trolling in the warmer months but the size of the fish make up for it, with over 20kg not uncommon.

I enjoy my job all-year round chasing all the different seasonal species on offer offshore from Brisbane, but I especially enjoy the next several months when I get to join my clients and have a floatline for a snapper.

The main reason I run a smaller charter vessel is that I get to have a fish as well and this keeps my enjoyment in the job. My new 760 Haines Hunter Patriot is a very roomy and comfortable boat to fish from and by running a para-anchor off one of the rear quarter cleats, I have no trouble floatlining five clients plus myself with very few tangles.

For people used to dropping heavy leads on paternoster rigs, floatlining with lightweights can be fairly daunting; not having any sense of where your bait is in relation to the bottom. By being in close quarters with the crew, clients can watch what I’m doing and, with a bit of coaching, it usually doesn’t take them long to pick it up and start nailing a few fish. I’m very fortunate to have a lot of regular clients that have been coming on charter with me for years and it’s very rewarding to have seen them go from bottom bashers to competent floatline fishers.

Last year’s snapper season saw plenty of good fish turn up in late May and early June on the 35 and 33 fathom reefs and from there they filtered into the 29 and shallower. And judging by the amount of squire already being caught in the deeper water, we might just be in for a good season.

At the moment we’re getting the gear ready for Fraser and looking forward to another expo to remember. Until next month, enjoy your fishing, take care on the coastal bars and if you’d like to join me on charter (max 5 persons) give me a call on 3822 9527 or 0418 738 750.

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