Big Pearlies Return
  |  First Published: July 2010

Fantastic weather, no swell and a high barometer have added up to lots of fish for keen anglers. I really love this time of year when the reefs species are fully on the chew.

In particular, we have seen a big return of pearl perch, which have been a little quiet over the past couple of years, and it has been easy to round up a nice box of these great table fish. The good news is that they are in really close offshore. They are biting well on the old fashioned dropper rig with bits of pilchards. However, if you are in a hurry to get your bag limit you can't go past using a 7” Gulp nuclear chook and even better, the 7” pearl white jerk shads.

I have rarely travelled any further than 4 miles offshore of late. There has been no real need because, as well as the pearlies, Moses perch, parrot, sweetlip and snapper are also in great numbers in close.

Tips and Gear

I have seen some of my customers lose nice fish, or not hook up in the first place, due to gear failure, bad set-ups or techniques. So in the following I will be looking at the best gear and techniques for the up coming prime fishing month.

There are far too many bottom end of the market overhead reels on way too stiff rods with way too heavy line, or really old overheads that belong in the cupboard alongside fishing trophies from 30 years ago. Anglers don’t need to struggle just to bring home a 4kg snapper as, with a nice set-up, landing an 8kg snapper will be no harder than flying a kite.

An overhead reel is probably the hardest reel to use and a lot of people struggle with them. The main mistake anglers make is once a fish is hooked, they wind like there is no tomorrow. Instead, use the rod as a steady lever up and a fast wind down. Frantically cranking an overhead reel will only wear you out and give you sore wrists as you move left to right.

A gimble belt will obviously stop the rod moving around but they are not always the best option. I have seen hundreds of fish lost using a gimble belt as by the time the fisho has mucked around trying to get the butt of the rod to lock into the gimble, the fish has had loose line and plenty of time to shake the hook.

If winching or cranking is your preferred way to fish then my recommendation is an Alvey reel with the drag set right. You really only need to use the rod to set the hook, then just wind, no gimble needed. An Alvey will not rock left to right.

The only downside to the Alvey is it is difficult to float down slowly for snapper. They are only a 1:1 gear ratio, which is fairly slow, and the drag system, although extremely reliable, is not the smoothest and can be over tightened easily. Nevertheless, most of the bigger reds that have been landed on my boat have been on an Alvey.


I am right into fishing light, as is my deckhand, Frank, aka ‘The Fishing Machine’. We prefer a spinning or threadline on a nice graphite rod, 2-6kg, 6-8kg and no heavier than 10kg.

We both have top of the range G.Loomis rods and the latest SW Shimano Stella reels. But there is no need to go this over the top, as most of the time on my recreational days I use a Shimano Stradic 5000 on a Shimano Jewel Snapper rod. Frank’s choice of reel is also a Shimano Stradic 5000 but he uses a Berkley Drop Shot rod. Both of these rods retail for around $120 and the reels for around $260. Using this gear, it’s really easy to land big fish all day without flogging yourself out. They are light as a feather, yet subtly powerful.

Technique is still the key. No cranking, just steady lifts and quick winds down. If the fish takes a run just, let it, don’t try to wind or tighten the drag. He will wear himself out soon enough.

On an 8-10kg reef fish I allow about 10 minutes to win the fight. No good trying to land him in 10 seconds – he will win!

August is always great fishing. It can be cold and windy but the fishing is full-on!

If you’d like to experience some of the sensational fishing Rainbow Beach has to offer, give me a call at Keely Rose Fishing Charters on (07) 5486 3150 or 0407 146 151, or visit www.keelyrosefishingcharters.com.au

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