Early run after big wet
  |  First Published: April 2010

The great wet of 2010 has brought with it an early run of many species.

Most of the reefs are firing, particularly with large numbers of red throat emperor that will eat just about any bait dropped to the bottom. Look for areas of coral surrounded by sand and fish the edges of the coral where bait is showing on your sounder.

When the weather allows, the Magnetic Island shoals have been producing excellent catches of Spanish mackerel, large- and small-mouth nannygai, cobia and the odd red emperor.

Mackerel and other pelagics have taken a keen interest in metal slices, and the nannygai and cobia have been taken predominantly using the paternoster rigs fished on the bottom.

Right now any metal lure around 4” worked around the bait schools found on the shoals is just about guaranteed a hook-up. Most anglers will find a small amount of wire is required to prevent bite offs.

When retrieving your offering you can never wind fast enough! Speed really is the key to enticing and then catching these monsters off the northern coast.

Other methods worth trying are floating pillies or gar behind the boat while bottom bouncing for reds or trolling lures and baits.

While both of these methods should produce the goods, high speed spinning is definitely a more proactive way to target mackerel in the current conditions. Just be careful which zone you are fishing as some reefs fall in the yellow zones where you can only use one hook and line per person.

Closer inshore school or doggy mackerel have turned up around the outer channel markers.

The easiest way to find these fish is look for the bait, and then the predators won’t be far away.

This month when targeting doggies try well known haunts such as West Point, Bay Rock, Burdekin Rock, Cordelia Rock and any wrecks, lumps or patches of weed that you have reliable GPS marks for. It shouldn’t be long before the schools of doggies find their way into closer bay areas.

A consistent berley trail of tuna oil, chook pellets and old cut up pilchards should convince any wary fish to stay in your target area.

It seems the current trend when targeting small mackerel is not to use wire. But keep in mind a lot of big Spaniards are caught every year as they travel in to feed on the doggies, so some may say it’s better to be safe than sorry.

I tend to take the risk and avoid using wire, as I find I can catch more doggies, especially when they are finicky.

This may also be a great time to hone your cast net skills or splurge on a yabbie pump from your local tackle store. While these are costly items, the long-term investment is invaluable when you consider what you pay for frozen bait.

Adding live bait to your arsenal also often results in a more consistent and notable catch rates. Most tackle stores can teach you how to use these tools and best of all where to head when chasing bait for your next trip.

During this time of the year the barra will hold right in close to the snags and pretty much only a live prawn dropped on their nose will entice them to bite. Anyone who has tangled with barra before will know that getting the barra to bite is probably the easy part of the fight.

Even a barra weighing about 10lb can be hard work to retrieve when it’s holed up in an oyster-encrusted snag. Plenty of fish swim away with the upper hand at this time of the year but persistence will see you rewarded, eventually!

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