Blimey, how cold is it? We’re all having to don a few extra layers before venturing out because, put bluntly, it’s bloody well freezing right now.
I long for the warm summer days when you can just about fry an egg on the bow of your tinnie. Still, the bonus side of the hideously cold weather is the quality of the fishing for table species such as bream, snapper, tailor and squid. This is sure to give you something to fry at the end of the day.
Snapper are one of the favored winter species and are not just a target for anglers with large offshore boats. With more finesse fishing techniques, anglers have quickly realised that snapper are accessible even to those fishing from kayaks, and sometimes even land-based.
Recently I heard some experienced anglers commenting that reports no longer refer to small snapper as ‘squire’. In recent times, any sized Pagrus auratus has been called a snapper because there has been a lot of confusion with the moniker ‘squire’, which was previously given to smaller fish of this species.
Problems arose when amateur anglers saw pictures of juvenile snapper in magazines with captions that mentioned squire. As they could not find squire on the Fisheries size limit chart they assumed there was no size or bag limit and kept whatever they wanted. Little did they realise that squire were just juvenile snapper and therefore were affected by their size regulations. As a result, many fishing writers are using the term snapper for any sized fish, to avoid confusion.
Snapper are readily targeted around the bay islands (Mud, Green, King and Peel), which can be accessed by smaller craft on a good day. The artificial reefs (Curtin and Harry Atkinson) and the many wrecks throughout the bay also provide good areas to target these awesome crimson specimens.
Around the bay islands, both plastics and baits will work well at times, however boat traffic can often make the fishing slow during the weekends, especially when conditions for boating are favourable. Quietness is imperative when fishing these shallow waters. I get really annoyed by others approaching within a few metres of me, two-stroke motors blaring, just to ask whether I am catching anything. If I had been on a hot bite, I definitely wouldn’t be hooking any more fish for quite a while after their visit!
Patience is a virtue in these locations; not catching anything for 15 minutes after dropping anchor is no indication that the fishing is lousy in that spot. Expect to wait a minimum of half an hour before getting your first inquiry. If you have an electric motor, use it as much as possible to manoeuvre your boat, especially when fishing with plastics.
When anchoring, drop the anchor up-current and feed out rope until you are over your chosen spot (don’t anchor right on top of it.) This will increase your chances of success dramatically.
Keep baits lightly weighted, cast them out to the side of the boat and allow the current to sweep them along. Observing a few basic rules such as these will increase everyone’s chances of catching a few quality snapper.
The Bribie Island Sport Fish Club are holding their Snapper Challenge on the 4th and 5th of July. This is a lure and fly only format with divisions for Brisbane River, Moreton Bay, Offshore and Canoe/Kayak and prizes for the largest fish and most fish caught in each category. This is a great competition and a lot of fun for all, with plenty of lucky draw prizes and some awesome trophies. Contact Jeff Sorrel on (07) 3284 2632 for more details.
Peel Island usually fishes well at this time of the year, and has a lot of varied seascape around it that provides great haunts and feeding areas for snapper and other target species. Fishing along the western side is popular and often productive for anglers with both baits and plastics. Hardbodied lures such as diving minnows, blades and lipless crankbaits can also be put to good use, but with such prominent structure you need to be careful to avoid snagging.
An electric motor is highly desirable to keep you a cast out from the edge of the prominent reef, which keeps you out of the Green Zone. Besides snapper, anglers often encounter quite a few other species including sweetlip, bream, morwong and tuskfish (parrot).
Always have a spin rod rigged with a chromed slug or stickbait plastic while fishing along the edges of the reef as pelagics can occasionally be found hunting hardiheads close to the reef edges. A quick cast can get you connected to mack tuna, mackerel, bonito or even a 20kg-plus longtail tuna.
Drifting plastics and baits around the houseboat wreck and adjacent rubble ground can produce good catches of snapper at times and the occasional yellowtail kingfish and others.
The Brisbane River is a popular waterway for anglers targeting snapper from small craft. The river produces good numbers of snapper, with fish to several kilos caught during July.
Those anglers achieving the best results are usually the ones who employ finesse techniques, with small plastics, blades and other lures, although baits can also produce surprising results. Live prawns drifted close to the bottom along any of the prominent riverbed drop-offs are often met with a ferocious strike, especially in low-light conditions.
Dead baits will also produce, but live prawns, herring and small poddy mullet will entice the best quality fish, even while fishing at anchor. The by-catch can include welcome species like king threadfin salmon, cod, bream and flathead, but you will also have to contend with pike eels, sharks, catfish, rays and other unwanted species.
Good places to cast-net bait include the sewerage chute area at the mouth of the river, the shallow flats between the grain terminal and Boat Passage entrance, and along any of the shallower banks on the eastward side of Boat Passage. Cast-netting around the Newstead and Colmslie jetties and around the mouth of creeks, including Boggy, Breakfast and Aquarium Passage, are all worth the effort.
Live baits fished in the deep hole at the mouth of Aquarium Passage often produce some awesome mulloway jew at this time of year. You have to be prepared for a long wait between runs, but with mulloway to over 30kg on offer at times the end result is worth the effort. Large, live mullet will limit pickers but will also attract the attention of sharks and large rays.
Clara’s Rocks is a good spot to try for snapper, school mulloway, cod and bream, with quality fresh baits or finesse luring techniques. There have been plenty of school mulloway caught here over recent months, just be aware of the new size limit of 75cm. Pre-dawn and evening sessions will produce best results due to the low-light conditions and a decrease in boat traffic.
Bream are probably one of the main catches throughout estuarine systems such as Jumpinpin and Pumicestone Passage, as well as the various creek and river systems filtering into the bay. Bream are scavengers, eating a broad array of baits, as well as many small lures.
For land-based anglers bream are prominent catches and can be taken from a broad array of locations. Try fishing from the banks in areas such as Nudgee Creek, Tingalpa Creek, Brisbane River, Deepwater Bend (Pine River), the canal developments, Woody Point Jetty, Manly Rock Wall and anywhere else you can access the water easily. Use a size 1 baitholder hook and running sinker rig with just enough lead to hold the bottom. Try baits such as mullet fillets, raw chicken fillet and prawns.
Flathead numbers will be on the increase this month as well, and should improve rapidly in coming months. Many will be caught on baits meant for other species, with live baits working better than dead. Casting soft plastics and trolling small minnow lures will heighten your chances, especially around the mouths of creeks and along the edges of prominent banks. Drifting major channels with whole fish baits such as hardiheads, whitebait and frogmouths will also yield results, especially close to the edges of prominent banks.
Blackfish (luderick) are generally at their most active during July. Numbers caught in recent years have been disappointing, but the rain earlier in the year put a lot of nutrients into the estuarine systems, which will hopefully promote prominent growth of cabbage and string weed. This should entice blackfish to the area.
Blackies can be a fickle species to catch, and the best results are obtained by fishing weed on a size 8 to 12 hook suspended below a blackfish float. Try along the rock walls at Fishermans Island, the canal developments and the deep banks along Short Island and Tiger Mullet Channel.
Tailor should be common catches along the eastern facing beaches of Moreton and Stradbroke Islands this month. Additionally, the area around the Jumpinpin Bar often sees good schools of tailor smashing the surface on a rising tide, especially early in the morning. Drifting pilchards and working stickbait plastics along the drop-off in front of Swan Bay at the Jumpinpin Bar is generally rewarding for tailor, trevally, bream and the occasional mulloway around the top of the tide and during the run out.
Skirmish Point at Bribie Island is a popular and generally productive spot for a quick morning or late afternoon session for tailor. The area around Amity Point and into the top end of the Rous Channel also produces results on tailor during July, with good schools often seen smashing into bait a fair way up into the Rainbow Channel.
Tailor are generally caught as a by-catch in the top end of the Rous by anglers drifting pilchards for school mackerel. The macks usually show up in this precinct during late July or early August. Usually the first indication that the schoolies are present is the presence of local pro fishermen, who troll spoons behind paravanes for these tasty table fish. This technique also works well for recreational anglers, who do well on Halco No.3 Barra Drones dragged behind Blueline paravanes or Yamashita trolling boards at speeds of 3.5-5 knots. Trolling the edges of the banks between the last two red beacons and first green, as well the mouth of Brown’s Gutter, will usually produce results on schoolies to around 2.5kg.
Squid numbers are usually very healthy in this area during July (probably why the mackerel are about), and these tentacled creatures will readily chew on pillies intended for mackerel and tailor. Casting a squid jig around whilst drifting pillies will often produce a tasty entrée. Both arrow and tiger squid can be caught when you specific targeting which often produces over 50 squid for a few hours, when they are abundant. Schools of smaller tunas, predominately bonito and small mack tuna, are often found throughout the Rous Channel and make great bait for a broad array of species from tailor to snapper.
Tailor, bream, snapper, tarpon, cod and mulloway are just a few of the species found around this great spot, which is accessible to boaties, kayakers and land-based anglers. Night and early morning sessions produce the best results when the bridge lights attract hardiheads and other baitfish to the area. Casting 5-15g chrome lures, baitfish-profiled flies and small plastics will usually produce the goods on tailor, tarpon, trevally and sometimes snapper. Larger predators such as mulloway, cod and XOS shovelnose rays will be tempted with large mullet, squid and pike.
There are plenty of piscatorial options on offer during July throughout the bay area. Skilled anglers are sure to reap the rewards of prominent activity from a broad array of species, but there is plenty of action to ensure that even the occasional angler can achieve results. While you will need to rug up to withstand the elements, there should be plenty of fish to fry this month.
You don’t have to be a gun lure fisher to catch bream. Plenty of quality fish are still caught with traditional bait fishing techniques.
The artificial reefs should produce some quality snapper like this pair during July.
Towards the end of July, school mackerel are often prevalent in the upper Rous Channel and other areas.Reads: 141