December is a real transitional month east of the south Passage Bar, with the water temperature continuing to rise pelagic fish come onto the radar for surface anglers.
The initial run of the small Spanish mackerel normally eventuates this month and locations such as the coffee rocks in close to Moreton Island plus Shag Rock and The Group off Point Lookout normally all hold fish.
Fish around 5-7kg are the dominant size this time of year. Some days the fish are even smaller and are not much larger than their legal size of 75cm.
Spaniards of this size are top tucker and still also a stack of fun to catch on the lighter tackle. Mono line up to 30lb is more than enough for these clean fighting fish and single strand 30lb wire is all you need for leader when trolling with live bait.
Keep your hook size relevant to the size of the live bait that you are using; I find a 3/0 front tow hook and a size 1 or 2 rear stinger treble fairly close to the mark on most occasions. It pays to have several rigs pre-made with different lengths of wire between the front tow hook and the rear stinger to cater for the different size livies.
I find braid is a big no-no for this style of fishing as it tends to be so direct and hence pull the small hooks used in the live bait.
I haven’t done any trolling so far this season but I’ve head of a few mackerel catches in the Point Lookout area and also from north of the Cape in the Hutchinson Shoal area.
The larger, later Spaniards normally show in numbers from January to March and it pays to up your tackle size a little, especially the wire. I normally go to around 40lb single stand at this time of year. April through to June is when the XOS Spaniards drop though on their was past and dropping big baits such as bonito, mac tuna, tailor and large slimies is the go for these members of the razor gang.
December should also see wahoo numbers start to pick up and we can only hope for a season like we had a couple of years back when small wahoo up to around 10kg were in plague numbers in November and December and then the bigger models arrived early in the New Year. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Wahoo will hit a wide variety of hardbodied and skirted lures. But make sure your hooks are razor sharp to penetrate their hard beak-like mouths.
There’s still fish to be bad for the die-hard bottom fishos this month with Shallow Tempest still well worth a go for a snapper, spangled emperor, Moses perch and the odd mulloway.
Out wide on the 35 and 42 Fathom reefs the current starts to really pick up this time of year and with that fishing deep water jigs also starts to pick up. The past few months on charter when we’ve been chasing yellowtail kingfish, amberjack and samsonfish, we’ve fished with livies but targeting these species in the next couple of months will predominately be on deep-water jigs.
With the stronger current, you’ll need jigs of 300-400g to get to the bottom quick enough before you’ve drifted off the mark. December in the past has seen some real brutes turn up with the odd amberjack over 40kg and kingfish better than 25kg, so make sure your gear is in tip top condition in case you cross paths with one of these thugs.
The silly season is almost with us, so take that extra bit of care on the road and water and make sure you get that outboard serviced if you haven’t been out for awhile.
I’m toying with the idea of heading up to Hinchinbrook for January but I’ll just keep an eye on the weather pattern before heading away.
I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year and hopefully Santa drops off the new rod you wanted.
Until next year, enjoy your fishing and take care on the coastal bars.
If you would like to join me on a charter (max 5 persons) give me a call at Outlaw Charters on (07) 3822 9527 or 0418 738 750.Reads: 2539