Pelagic action has been the major drawcard for anglers fishing in the Northern Bay over February.
Abundant schools of both spotted and school mackerel have been producing exciting sessions with the majority of fish being caught by anglers sight fishing surface busting schools.
The best presentations have been small chrome slices or soft plastics fished with a fast retrieves across the surface. Alternatively letting your lure sink beneath the working fish and retrieving it at 45 degrees often gets timid mackerel to strike.
Anglers who have never fished for mackerel before and want to get into a bit of fast paced action would be best to fish around the end leads of the Brisbane River, Pearl Channel or wider near the shipping beacons at Moreton Island.
If schools are not visibly busting on the surface using half or whole baits of pilchards set at differing depths will get you into the action.
Both drifting and anchoring have positive results but if you anchor close to the river leads ensure you allow for current and wind, being at anchor inside the line of the channel leads is illegal.
Be sure to carry a berley brew of mashed pilchards, tuna oil, pollen, bread and beach sand to disperse when the fishing is quiet.
Tackle should be kept light as the majority of fish are only up to 3-4kg and are generally subdued quite quickly after the initial run. Line weights between 6-12lb are ample, but tend to the lighter side for more of a sporting challenge. Rods matched to your line choice and 2500 sized reels are more than sufficient for these speedsters.
It is great to see these excellent sport fish re-entering the bay in such healthy numbers again, it is a positive sign for the next few years inside the bay.
The pelagic activity has not been restricted to the bay area either. Out wide fishos have been having a great month on the speedsters albeit later in the season than expected. Wahoo, Spanish mackerel, tuna and mahi mahi have all been in reasonable numbers around Hutchies and further out to the 100m mark.
This month should continue to produce good numbers of line burning action with the warm water set to stick around for the next couple of months.
Trolling high-speed, skirted pusher style lures around predominant current lines and bait schools is the tried and tested go-to for trollers looking to put in long hours looking for fish. During the middle of the day switching to deep diving bibbed lures or rigged baits deployed via the use of down riggers will keep the fish biting. Be aware of any deep bait schools that may show on your sounder and adjust you trolling depth to suit.
Small marlin have also made a late season showing around the wide grounds, some healthy specimens up to 150kg being recently caught by the high speed fraternity east of Moreton Island.
These little billies demand respect when boat-side. They should only be pulled onboard by an experienced and competent angler to minimise damage to both the fish and angler; that pointy end can do lots of damage with one foul swoop.
In the estuaries mangrove jack are still prominent and should remain active throughout March. Although most jacks have been caught as by-catch, anglers actually spending the time to target these feisty little blighters are having great success in sheltered canal systems and rugged reef areas in the rivers.
Try locations like Newport Canals, Pine River upper reaches and Cabbage Tree Creek marina. The Brisbane River is also a great spot, particularly when fished in the afternoons or at night.
In the Brisbane River anglers fishing upriver of the Toowong stretch have found good fish close to mangrove edges and around jetty structure with small shad style soft plastics and live baits of prawns or small mullet.
Standard bream outfits can be used but are often outgunned by fish larger than 35-40cm. Upgrade to light barra outfits, which are better suited to these river brutes. Lines of braid or mono from 12-20lb are certainty a step in the right direction to stopping a rampaging jack.
Of course where there are jacks there are cod and these toothy critters can be as destructive on terminal tackle and equipment as their neighbouring jacks.
Fishing exactly the same techniques in the same locations during summer will get the cod fired up and keep anglers guessing what they have hooked. Regardless both are excellent table fair and are worth fishing for over the next month.
Land-based anglers looking to secure a feed over the next month should sway towards spinning for flathead along the shallow sand bars around the mouth of the Hays Inlet, along Nudgee Beach, the mouth of the Brisbane River and Boggy Creek.
While these fish will mainly be smaller sand and dusky flathead, what they lack in size they should more than make up in numbers.
Tides are defiantly the key ingredient to locating flathead along these exposed areas. Being ‘Johnny on the Spot’ as the tide turns and drains off the sand flats is prime time for flathead to hold position and bury-in awaiting prey to drift or swim past.
As the tide reaches waist height wading and casting up current will minimise spooking flathead and help to cover a larger area and hopefully find the fish.
Using small curl tail, paddle tail or jerk baits in either pink, white or pearl colours are dynamite and won’t go un-noticed. Jigheads like TT’s Tournament Series Jigheads in 1/6 or 1/4 oz are brilliant for this type of fishing and present the plastic in a natural pattern.
Catch scents are also a useful tool when flathead are shadowing plastics without striking. I prefer to us Mega Strike as it tends to stick well to plastics and hooks without washing of after repetitive casts.
Small hardbody lures can also be a good producer when flathead are active, try to choose your lure type so it dives just deep enough to hit the bottom and puff up sand. This action really gets flathead going and is sure to find you a few fish.
Good luck this month and enjoy the first month of spring on the water.Reads: 3015