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Rife rampant reefies
  |  First Published: July 2009



Black jew have come on again in big numbers over the last moon and the locals took advantage of the short window between blows. The average fish taken was around 13.5kg with the odd school of horses topping 18kg.

One of those big fellas feeds a family for a week and the only reason we are getting consistent captures every season is the amount of fish put back. It seems people are slowly catching on to the ‘take a couple and release the rest’ practice.

These large jewies are fierece fighters in the relatively shallow water of the Corio Heads Jew hole, which is the most reliable of the close-in spots. The other places worth a shot for an easy day of fishing are Double Heads and Ironpot. The Pinnacles, The Rama, Cape Capricorn and Double Rocks (north of Manifold) are top spots a bit further away for the more adventurous fishers. For some reason the schools with a bigger sized fish seem to be at Double Rocks and Manifold.

Fillet strips or pillies and squid are all you need as far as bait goes. I have been trying to nail jew with huge plastics and have been struggling to get any uniform results apart from missing way more fish than I land. The steady supply of fish this season has given me more time to try different tactics and finally some sort of regular picture is developing.

The two styles working for me have been the Storm and Squidgy large minnows. I have been leaving the minnows soaking in pilly juice for a while prior to trying them. The most hits have come from a straight up and down slow jigging motion. When you get an inquiry drop the rod tip and let the jew have another crack.

The standard trebles tend to pull out fairly easy so I changed over to a pair of straight shank hooks back to back. The hook-ups increased dramatically with the straight shank hooks. There is only one problem now and that is the replacement cost when I lose a couple, squid and pilchards are much cheaper.

Large black king (cobia) continue to be a dominant force in all of the local offshore spots. They are a great fighting fish and come on in big numbers over the warmer months towards Christmas. The warmer than average year has ensured they have been a constant.

Cobia like pillies, strip baits, large prawns and most other mackerel baits. They seem to prefer reefy structures, wrecks and pinnacles where it is common to see the smaller fish in schools and the bigger fish in small groups. They can be annoying when they smash baits for mackerel or grab a livie on the way down, as a by-catch cobes rate highly.

Like the cod we caught a few months ago, a number of the cobia caught just offshore lately have been full of Moreton Bay bugs. It’s a shame when they have six or eight big bugs half digested, so we put them out as bait.

The Fitzroy River is in fine shape at present with a whole range of species on the chew. The big bream have taken residence down the Port Alma area and are getting some competition from the blue and king salmon.

Heading upstream all the way up into the town reaches there is plenty of kings around. They prefer prawns and small mullet as a rule, but will take a lure or a plastic if presented the right way. Eddies, structures and rock bars are better on the dropping tide while the mud banks are a special on the run-in.

Blue salmon tend to move around in schools travelling along the coast and into the mouths of estuaries as they pass. This time of year they hit Corio Bay going through the deeper gutters near the mouth on the run-in tide. The guys who fish for them in the surf use a standard tailor rig and three or four hooks baited up with a pilly. The blues prefer a bit of run in the water and will hang just below breaking waves in the white water edge.

In the calmer waters inside the bay it is very hard to beat live yabbies or whiting fillets. And as with most fish now, there is a plastic that blues love to grab; the Atomic Prong in red pumpkin colour, among a few others. Flashas and wobblers appeal to salmon and can often drive them to frenzy when there is enough flash in the water. Try drifting the channels and flicking where the sand banks drop off into the deeper water.

Coorooman Creek, The Causeway, Ross Creek and Barwell’s Creek all have blues at times and even the harbour can have runs of salmon. The moving bait schools of whiting, northern pilchards, yorkies and greenback herring dictate where they are going to turn up next.

Whiting numbers haven’t dropped much, with the sandbanks in the mouth of Coorooman Creek and Corio Bay returning quality whiting of late. The rising tide is usually the best time to target whiting. They run with the leading edge of the tide and are among the first of the fish over a new area. Yabby beds are probably the next best option, and yabbies are the preferred bait.

The beaches also all hold whiting. The local beach worms account for the best catches from the surf. There is a good chance of nailing dart as well at the beach when the water is a bit active. The best spot to put your bait is almost at your feet, wider casts don’t get the same interest.

Steelies, steelbacks or flat salmon have arrived in force again schooling up to breed in many of the coastal creeks. The best place to target steelies is Coorooman Creek, with Corio Bay a close second. Any small live bait is not safe from these estuary raiders. They also love small flashas and twisters retrieved in an erratic quick manner. The last few years we have scored good numbers on hardbody minnows.

Anglers who fish for steelies only keep the bigger fish, because it is very hard to get a feed from a small fish. They taste quite good fresh, and when other fish are off the bite they can make up a decent feed. Steelies are a great pint sized sportfish on light gear (1-2kg) providing aerial displays and short, fast runs.

Doggies and Spaniards will be still about with any luck. The mackerel spots out from Keppel Sands and out wider continue to work well. As the month wears on spotties will move up to the northern spots and we’ll get a crack at them on passing. Spotted mackerel are one of the favourite fish for heaps of boaties around here for several reasons: the quality of their flesh and the close proximity of the spots they hang about.

Be careful not to confuse a doggie mackerel with a spotted mackerel; it’s a bad mistake to make when spotties have a bag limit of five fish per person and dogs are 10 per person.

All the reefies and many of the estuary species are biting at the moment so it looks like only the weather could stop us getting a nice feed in August.

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