The gamefishing season for South East Queensland is drawing to a close.
The couple of large low pressure systems that hit the region over the past few months have caused a spiked downturn in gamefishing for the coming season. The pressures have caused the water to cool with dirty water run-off and, with the East Australia Current backing off, blue tropical water has been unable to push in. This has seen many of the glamour pelagic disappear for the year.
On the billfish front, all we can hope for is a late run of blue marlin, which have been very quiet this year, or the possibility that the sailfish will turn up on the Sunshine Coast during winter. However, if anglers are prepared to travel further afield, fishing places like Agnes Waters and the top of Fraser Island can turn up all sorts of surprises.
If you want to chase record size wahoo, fish the shoals and bank areas between Fraser Island and the Capricorn Bunker group of reefs all through winter. Large Spanish mackerel and any of the billfish species will probable be by-catch in that neck of the woods during this time of the year.
Since I last reported there have been a few gamefish tournaments held.
Moreton Bay Gamefish Club conducted a very successful ‘Back to Tangalooma’ Tournament over on Moreton Island. These tournaments were legendary back in the ‘good old days’ and it’s great to see it up and running again due to a keen committee and guys like ‘Spike’ Kirkby.
Unfortunately it was run during a bad time of season when the billfish seemed to of gone on holidays for a week, with a single sailfish scooping the pool for the lucky angler and team. A few other billies were hooked on both light and heavy tackle but no-one was good enough to get a tag in another one. And the weather on the second day was very trying with a few boats not fishing.
The Gold Coast Gamefish Club conducted their heavy tackle tournament recently and also had to put up with some dubious weather. Yvonne, Keith Young’s towered 40’ Black Watch, clung onto a win as it was settled through a count back with a tagged striped marlin from early on the first day. No-one managed to tag multiple fish, so the one won it for the boys.
I took some time out from chartering my own boat to fish on Van Karas’ 33’ Obrien, Nauti Suzzane, not that I would have been getting out on the Sunshine Coast based on the weather forecast that weekend. I was lucky enough to end up in the chair when we hooked a nice tournament sized blue marlin, and I got to test Van’s new 60kg breaking strain outfits and chair. With a successful tag shot we ended up the only boat of the fleet tagging a fish on day two to give me the first and last Fish Of The Day trophies, as well as putting us in forth place overall as a team.
The week after theGold Coast was the Mooloolaba Gamefish Club’s Billfish Bonanza Tournament held on the ANZAC Day weekend from the Wharf Tavern Mooloolaba.
This was a light and heavy tackle event with yet again an early tagged fish hanging on to win on count back. This time it was the crew on Keneka, Wayne Finlay’s 40’ White Cap. The crew and angler David Hinde, who was in the chair, tagged a blue marlin from the Noosa Canyons and walked away with masses of trophies and prizes.
Pauline Harris from the Haines Signature trailer boat, Going Off, took out all the light tackle and small boat categories with a tagged sailfish from her husband Geoff’s boat. It was a great effort on a big fish on 8kg line that had the two of them tied up for a few hours in the rough condition, especially for a trailer boat.
Some boats had chances like Russell Fairey’s 37’ Riviera Hardnup who had a triple hook-up of blue marlin on at one stage only to lose all three. Of interest was a 28kg mahi mahi Nathan Douglass brought to the scales from his father’s 35’ Caribbean Luna. Unfortunately it was way short of going line class on the 37kg tackle that was used, but it was an impressive fish all the same.
If you had the time and finances, Bribie Island Gamefish Club held their tournament the weekend after Mooloolaba to make it three weekends in a row.
Sunshine Coast boat the 35’ Bertram Bangalee, skippered by Adrian ‘AJ’ Wright, took out the tournament with a tagged blue marlin from the Shelf. It just sneaked ahead on points from a tagged light tackle black marlin tagged by the crew of Blue Black, John Williams’ 34’ Black Watch. AJ was ably assisted by angler Graham Devin (President of the Queensland Gamefish Association), Andrew Earle (owner of Kevlacat boats) and Steve Dahl (another skipper from the Sunshine Coast Gamefish Club).
There were lots of lost chances that weekend with many boats seeing multiples. Blue Black had the chance of putting the tournament away late on the second day hooking up to their second black marlin, only to lose it. The fish nearly switched on the second day with around seven light tackle marlin lost from the inshore grounds around Hutchison Shoals. A similar amount of heavy tackle fish were seen but no one could keep hooks in them, which contrasted with the first day where not many were seen at all.
To keep most crews occupied the other gamefish species were out in force, with good size mahi mahi on the heavy tackle grounds and inshore there were loads of tuna and wahoo. I was out and fishing but not in the tournament and my customers were certainly kept happy; reels going off and hooked up to fish every quarter hour or so. Other boats cleaning up in the area were Jim McKinnon’s 680 Haines Hunter Patriot Aquasition and the towered 40’ Black Watch, In the Black skippered by Shane Steer.
Apart from tournament fishing, not much serious gamefishing has taken place this past period and the rewards have not been there. Most people have been fishing for a feed of pelagic speedsters, like wahoo and yellowfin tuna, at places like Hutchison Shoal or chasing reef fish for the icebox.
On charter I have noticed the change in seasons with the water temperature dropping dramatically and all the bait, like yakkas and slimys, moving into all their winter haunts. Following them will be the snapper so my focus will change in coming months to soft plastics in close, as well as demersal fishing.
To check out the soft plastics action or to try a jigging trip or a deep sea fishing trip give me a call at South Queensland Charter Services on 0407 574 868 or check out my website www.sqcs.com.au .Reads: 3180