East Rises Up
  |  First Published: May 2010

East of the south passage bar this past month has seen some very productive fishing with pelagic and bottom species turning it on when weather permitted.

Spanish mackerel, wahoo, yellowfin tuna and mahi mahi have all been around in good numbers and not shy to slam a bait or lure. Bottom fish have also been increasing in numbers with some good squire and the odd snapper smacking floatlined baits on the 29, 33 and 35 fathom reefs, and June should see them become even more active.

Out wide there has been plenty of school sized amberjack keen to swallow any live bait offered, which has been hard to gather of late. North of Cape Moreton, in the wide Caloundra area, has seen good numbers of pearl perch along with some back-breaking XXOS amberjack. Both have been grabbing hooked fish or livies dropped in their vicinity.

Jigging has been a little slow of late but as the water temp continues to drop, yellowtail kingfish should start to show in large schools on their usual haunts on the 35, 37 and 42 fathom reefs. Past years have seen the summer months be more productive for the jig-fisher chasing kingies, but the last couple of seasons has seen the winter months fire up much better for the heavy metal angler.

The last few years has seen amberjack in numbers I’ve not seen in all the years I’ve fished east of Moreton Island. And there’s no reason why this won’t continue for years to come, especially with a protective and sensible bag limit of two fish per person and size limit of 50cm.

I’ve spoken to several anglers who were totally unaware that the size limit had been reduced from 75cm back to 50cm. Although the Fisheries leaflets still says 75cm for amberjack and Samsonfish, the now adjusted limit is definitely 50cm. Mahi mahi are also 50cm having been adjusted back from 60cm.

In May, Spanish mackerel are still in good numbers and are still being caught well down the NSW coast, so they will definitely worth targeting in June and July. With this in mind, you’ll still get the best of both worlds; being able to combine some trolling for mackerel/wahoo and some floatlining for snapper. I reckon there’s nothing better than seeing a variety of fish and colour in the kill tank to take home after a day’s fishing. In the point lookout area, you can chase pelagic and bottom fish in the same area and over off Moreton island. It doesn’t take long to run out to either Shallow Tempest on the northern half of the island or the 29 fathom reef on the southern end after having an early morning troll on the coffee rock.

Jigging for bait on a recent charter, we dropped three bait jigs into a huge school of baitfish in 25m of water just north of the South Passage Bar. The three jigs got monstered but we managed to land three juvenile dogtooth tuna around 10-12” long on the only hooks remaining on the jigs. I was actually travelling to another bait spot when I ran over the huge show on the sounder and by what we landed it must have been a huge school. This is one species of fish I’ve never encountered before in all the years I’ve fished off the South Passage Bar and goes to show you just never know what you’ll hook!

A report published in the Courier Mail recently stated that Fisheries are lacking funds to do their job thoroughly 7 days a week. I hope Fisheries hierarchy don’t rush through any option in the Rocky Reef Review because it fits their lack of budget instead of doing proper consultation with the recreational sector and industry to arrive at a better outcome for all. And also to look after stock levels of the Rocky Reef species for years to come.

Until next month enjoy your fishing, take care on the Coastal bars and if you’d like to join me on charter (max 5 persons) give me a call on 07 3822 9527 or 0418 738 750.

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