Now that the waterways are really starting to heat up around the Southern Bay, there are some really great fish to be caught, particularly as the northern species start to make their presence felt. School and spotted mackerel, mangrove jacks, estuary cod and various tuna species are all increasing in activity.
Mangrove jacks are keenly sought by anglers both as a sport and as a top eating fish, though many jack aficionados choose to release most of their quarry these days. They can be caught in the creeks, rivers and southern-most island areas of Moreton Bay, from the salt right through to brackish waters.
As the name suggests, mangrove jacks can be caught around mangroves although it would be fair to say in most locations they actually prefer a rocky environment. In creeks and rivers, look for a spot where current pushes up against a rocky bank or any other significant structure.
Bait fishers do very well with strip baits of mullet while live baits such as prawns and herrings also work well. Rigs vary depending on the situation but a simple setup with a 30-50lb leader and running ball sinker will suffice for much of the time. When fishing steep or undercut banks, a float can suspend a live bait tantalisingly close to a jack without snagging up in the rough ground.
Lure fishers use a variety of lures from plastics to poppers to deep diving hardbodies depending on the situation. In creeks and rivers with lots of natural structures, diving lures such as Smith Cherry Bloods and Lucky Craft Bevy Shads are dynamite. Their long bibs allow them to be worked over, around and through the snags without being hung up (not too often anyway!). Because of the nasty terrain and aggressive action of these lures, they can be fished with heavy tackle like 30lb braid and leaders.
In canals with a lot of floating structure, smaller diving lures and plastics such as Slider Grubs and Guzzler Shrimps work great. The water in canals is generally quite clear and doesn’t run as hard as in the rivers, so lighter lines and leaders around the 8-16lb range are ideal.
Surface lures can be used in a variety of environments but are at their most effective at night or very early in the morning. Jacks use the cover of darkness to come away from their snags and hunt in open waters. Rock bars are a happy hunting ground, as are rock walls around the mouth of canals.
Mackerel are on the hunt this month too. School mackerel are easily targeted by trolling deep diving lures or spoon style lures with a paravane to help get them down to the desired depth. Some good areas to try around the Southern Bay include the Rous and Rainbow Channel, the sandbank edges around Harry Atkinsons Artificial Reef and the channel off the northern and western side of Goat Island.
Spotty mackerel have been showing up in drips and drabs so far this season, but towards the end of the month we should see the numbers increase as the main migration starts to move down the coast. Generally once there are good reports coming from the Sunshine Coast, it will be only a couple of weeks before they are in reasonable numbers at the bottom end of the bay.
Elsewhere this month, there is good fishing to be had over the rocky reef drop-offs around islands such as Green, Peel, Coochiemudlo and Macleay. Snapper are present and are being joined in increasing numbers by grassy sweetlip and estuary cod. As the water warms up, less common species like spangled emperors and coral trout start to show up as well.
Until next month, tight lines! If you would like any more information about fishing the southern bay, just drop in and see us at Fish Head at Victoria Point Town Centre or drop me an email --e-mail address hidden--