During February, the weather is still fairly warm and it is enjoyable being out on the water during daylight and darkened hours, sampling the piscatorial action, which is generally varied and positive.
The bad aspect is that many anglers now find themselves returning to work after annual holiday leave. However, night sessions can be very enjoyable and rewarding at times in the bay proper and the filtering waterways. Soaking a few baits or working a lure or two is a great way to spend a few hours on the water after the drudgery of work when you have the piscatorial itch.
The tasty morsels are generally available in better numbers throughout February. The main run of prawns usually coincides with the full moon late in February. However, as there is no full moon in February this year yet two in March, next month is when the better numbers will most likely turn up.
There will however be a few decent schools around to make efforts worthwhile. Banana prawns account for the majority of those encountered, however greasies, tiger and endeavours can also be cast netted from a variety of locales. All of these make great table fare and will quickly get you a few extra friends once word is out that you are getting amongst them.
The greasy prawns are usually fairly small and are generally used for bait instead of for human consumption. In fact, all prawn species make awesome baits for a plethora of piscators, therefore predator fish can often be found around the edges of these schools of prawns, which can congregate in a variety of areas at certain times. Most cast netters struggle to use these larger prawns for bait, instead keeping them for their own dinner.
Boating anglers should try around the mouth of the Logan River, the flats out from Nudgee Beach or Deception Bay and anywhere in the major river and creek systems. Having a quality colour sounder, preferably one with side scan, can easily allow you to hone in on the larger concentrations of prawn, and reduces the wasted time associated with blind casting.
The Brisbane River is usually one of the better places for anglers to try, with the rising tide often producing good numbers of schools, which make their way up the system. Land-based anglers have several places where they can target these prawns. The Colmslie Jetty, Newstead Jetty, Sewerage Shoot, Mowbray Park Jetty and many other locations will produce the goods, especially at night.
Soaking a few live prawns on the end of a line whilst cast-netting can result in some awesome action including threadfin salmon, cod, flathead, bream, snapper and other quality species. Plenty of undesirables including pike eels, catfish, shovelnose rays, stingrays and toad fish will also be hooked on these live offerings.
Other spots worth a try for the land-based angler include the Woody Point Jetty, Sandgate Jetty, Deepwater Bend, the highway bridge over the Pine River and any other bridges and pipelines that span the larger waterways filtering into Moreton Bay.
The prawns in the Brisbane River definitely increase the action for anglers and can make targeting the resident species a little easier. Locate the prawn schools or bait and usually the predator species are not too far away.
One successful approach is to simply drift a small prawn close to the bottom along the edges of prominent drop-offs into the main river. I usually employ a paternoster style rig, with just enough lead to keep the prawn close to the bottom. Kahle pattern hooks such as Mustad Wide Mouth and 37140, Gamakatsu Shiner and Youvella 83205B will work well for prawn baits. If you have small prawns, pin two back to back through the tail with this hook. They will flick against each other and will generally struggle, which can create increased interest from species lurking nearby. Quality snapper are definite possibilities with this approach but also expect estuary cod, bream, flathead, threadfin and the occasional grunter and mulloway.
If lure and flyfishing are your thing, head upriver and try casting your offerings around the lights along the river bank at night for threadfin and other species. Probe around the CityCat terminals, bridges and any jetties and pontoons along the river. Use offerings such as Jackal Mask and Trans Am, Atomic Prongs, Mann’s George-n-Shad, Castaic Jerky J Swimbaits, DOA Shrimps and Gulp 5” Jerk Shads. Many other soft plastics, minnow lures and vibration baits are also likely to work.
The king threadfin in the Brisbane River are a limited resource so please release the majority that you land. Increase their chances of survival by not lifting them out of the water. Lip grip them boat-side, remove the hooks, revive them if necessary and allow them to swim away. Appreciate how much pleasure and fun it gave you to catch them. Greatly increase the chances of you and others enjoying these great species in the future by carefully releasing the majority that you catch.
There has been some reasonable numbers of Moreton Bay pelagics around at times this season but you often need to spend a little time searching to find prominent surface action. Schools can pop up at any time at a variety of locations in Moreton Bay, so it often pays to have a spin rod rigged and ready with a chrome slug or slice. I favour the Maria Mucho Luhr in the 18g, 25g and 35g sizes but you will need to upgrade the trebles and rings on them before use. Most chromed baitfish profiles have good potential to work on surface busting species. Fluorocarbon leaders can also greatly increase your chances of a strike if you can get within casting range.
Good places to search for some surface action during February include the Pearl Channel, Rainbow Channel, Middle Bank, Shipping Channels, Gilligans Island and along the front of Bribie Island. Doing the run from Spinnaker Sound Marina out the Bribie Passage, around Skirmish Point and along the front of Bribie can be quite productive at times.
Longtails can be located anywhere from the mouth of Pumicestone Passage to Brays Rock out from the Caloundra Bar. Get out far enough off the Bribie Beach so that you can spot any activity close to it, then make your way along, you will be able to cover a lot of area in your search. If this fails to produce any action then go further east and try jigging the beacons of the northwest Channel for school mackerel. Occasional spotted mackerel and yellowtail kingfish can also be caught here and I have even hooked a Spanish mackerel whilst jigging a chromed slug.
Longtails are usually the main target species along the front of Bribie but you can have a lot of fun on the mac tuna, frigate tuna and bonito that are regularly encountered. Late in the afternoon it often pays to hang around wide of the sharks nets as these generally hold some form of bait, which in turn attracts the tuna.
Hopefully there should be a few schools of spotted and school mackerel about in the bay proper and these can also be targeted on chrome slugs as well as flies and even plastic stick baits. Look around areas such as Middle Bank, Naval Reserve Banks, mouth of the Rous Channel and near Lucinda Bay. The area between Amity Point and the South Passage Bar can regularly hold good amounts of bait, especially on the rising tide, which in turn attracts all manner of pelagics.
The estuaries, creeks and rivers will be steady during February and anglers can expect the usual bream, flathead, whiting, estuary cod, mangrove jacks and other species. Specific targeting will greatly increase your chances of success, either with lures or on quality baits.
The canal estates are easily accessible and are a good option when conditions are unfavourable further offshore. They hold some quality fish and anglers in small tinnies, and even kayaks, can often achieve some pretty amazing results whilst casting various lures and soaking baits. Structure plays a key role in this environment and working lures close to the many jetties, pontoons and rock walls will heighten your chances of success considerably. Various soft plastics, minnow lures, reaction baits and even topwater presentations can produce. Mangrove jack are the top prize but estuary cod, bream, trevally, tarpon, queenfish, flathead, Moses perch and others will regularly be encountered.
Flathead are a year round proposition in our southern estuaries although the best numbers are encountered later in the year. Trolling minnow lures or casting plastics along the edges of the prominent banks during the falling tide is one of the simplest approaches. They can also be encountered on top of the banks during the latter half of the rising tide, especially in any small gutters or around the edges of weed beds and other structure that provides good ambush spots.
Drifting baits across these banks during this period, or in the main channels and along the edges of the bank during the falling tide, will greatly increase your chances with baits. Flathead do not move around all the time so you are best to cover plenty of area and take the offering to them.
Pumicestone Passage and the Jumpinpin area have a myriad banks and gutters that make perfect flathead habitat. Usually if you find flathead in one area, they will again be in that same area at the same time the next day, so it doesn’t take long to find some reliable spots with a bit of searching and observation.
Offshore, the pelagic action will continue with numbers of wahoo, billfish, mahi mahi and others being encountered by anglers trolling lures. Key spots include Hutchinson Shoals, The Group, The Trench, Sullies and Caloundra Wide but pelagics can be located in many open water areas if there are baits schools or current lines with temperature change.
Skirted resin-heads and weighted heads, bibless minnows, rigged baits and bibbed minnows will all catch most pelagic species. Listening to the VHF on Channel 21, 81 or 73 will give you an indication as to whether there are any pelagics being caught, and possibly where the action is at, as game boat skippers regularly chat amongst themselves on these channels. Tackle stores will also usually hear about any positive fishing reports from successful anglers, so dropping in for the latest updates the day before a trip may short track your search.
On the wide grounds in depths between 80-600m there will generally be a few larger billfish around during February. The 80-200m zone often produces quite a few striped marlin at this time and I have witnessed a triple hookup out from Cape Moreton during this period. Stripies have an innate ability to throw hooks and are probably one of the hardest billfish to stay connected to. They are usually less than 100kg so are perfect targets from a 5m plus trailerboat on 15-24kg tackle.
The blue marlin can also be caught in this zone but are more common between 200-600m and occasionally even further out. These guys average around 150kg and require 37-60kg line for a good chance of success. Get used to being spooled if you target them on lighter line classes, although the occasional smaller blue may be landed if Lady Luck is on your side.
Once again this month, there are plenty of options for all anglers whether land-based, in small craft or with the largest of game boats. I often find that it is hard to know what to do next during February as there can be so many piscatorially positive things happening all at once. Do I chase mackerel in Moreton Bay, billfish in the bluewater or jacks in the creeks? If only I could be in several places at once.
The warm conditions require plenty of liquid refreshment and slip, slop, slap to avoid a nice day being spoiled by dehydration or sunburn. Take the opportunity to get out amongst some awesome fish species whilst the warm summer days persist. Good luck and safe boating.Reads: 313