By Anthony Cass - Pelagic Hunter
Winter is well and truly upon us. The whales have arrived right on cue and are out there around Cape Moreton in big numbers. A fully grown Humpback Whale can be the size of a bus and weigh 40 ton. When an animal that size lifts its entire mass clear of the water it's certainly a site to behold and can be a daunting experience when witnessed from a small boat. Needless to say, they deserve respect and caution must be taken when boating near these animals. Particularly in low light conditions.
The cooler water inside the bay is the cue for increased Squid and Cuttlefish activity. They're easily targeted on almost any weed bed in Moreton Bay, my favourite areas being in front of the sand dunes around Tangalooma. Almost any squid jig will eventually get eaten when slowly rolled through these weed beds at around mid water. You don't want the jig too high off the bottom but you also don't want to be snagging the weed either. Try varying sink periods and retrieve rates until you find what’s working on the day. Everyone has a favourite colour jig and personally I like a straight black, but a good rule of thumb is a bright colour for bright conditions and a darker colour in low light conditions. The theory being that a darker colour will cast a more noticeable silhouette in the lower light and squid are visual hunters. Squid are absolutely delicious when eaten fresh and if you haven't eaten fresh squid you simply haven't eaten squid. The trick is to cook them quickly! They also make superb baits for large Snapper.
As mentioned in previous reports, Winter is the time to be chasing those quality Snapper. Whilst they are caught sporadically throughout the bay all year round, Winter is when they aggregate in the shallow water of the inshore reefs to spawn. They're here right now and the start of the season has seen many quality Snapper being caught throughout SEQ. It pays to put in some time sounding around and looking for where the fish are holding on a given day. A favourite ledge can be loaded with life one day and barren the next, while at other times an insignificant and isolated rock can be found stacked with fish for seemingly no reason. They can be caught using a variety of different methods. From the old paternoster style “bottom bashing” to soft plastics and even on fly. Mid range to large soft plastics are the “go to” for many with the “jerk shad” proving fruitful time and again.
An equally popular method is “float lining” a whole squid or pilchard on a set of ganged or snelled hooks with either a very light lead or no weight at all, letting the bait slowly drift down through the water column. Snapper often feed surprisingly high in the water column for a demersal species. Unlike targeting other demersals, maintaining direct contact with the bottom is not as much of a focus. However, high current will obviously make it harder to get baits down into the strike zone and keep them there. The days around the neap tide will be much easier to fish in regards to current and also the top and bottom of the tides around the spring tide period. Focusing on these times will be much easier, particularly when fishing places inside the bay such as the shipping channels and artificial reefs where large tides can kick up quite a lot of current.
The Spanish Mackerel are still there too and they're getting bigger. Some recent local catches have been in excess of 20kg which is truly a fish of a lifetime for many anglers! They'll be peaking in numbers over the following month before vanishing altogether from our local system over Spring.
For those serious anglers willing to go the extra mile and wanting to chase what is in my opinion the holy grail of fishing in SEQ, the mature Yellowfin Tuna are due to be passing us on their migration up the east coast to the Coral Sea. Earlier in the year we saw some incredible Yellowfin well in excess of 50kg being caught south of the border in NSW. They should be off our coast right now cruising along the top of the continental shelf. Now is the time to get one!
The days surrounding the new moon and full moon, coupled with high oceanic current, will always get Spanish Mackerel feeding more aggressively. Whether casting large stickbaits, live baiting or trolling diving lures, enticing a strike from a Spanish Mackerel can be a challenge in itself. Often requiring more patience and persistence than anything. Staying attached to these powerful speedsters once they are hooked is a challenge as good as any an angler can face. Good Luck!
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