Every fish at its fullest
  |  First Published: June 2017

The tropical waters of TNQ are one of the best examples of nature ‘on steroids.’ Everything alive is at its fullest. These fish-rich waters contain many different ecosystems that contain their own fish stocks and have their own successful ways of fishing.

Out wide the pelagic action has to be seen to be believed. Massive bait schools are attracting tuna, queenfish, cobia, trevally and more. Casting out big poppers and stickbaits often results in a 1m+ queenfish or a big GT if you are lucky. Deep diving minnows that dive 10-12ft equipped with strong hooks and a sturdy wire trace are the best way to pick off big Spanish mackerel. Varied by-catches such as sailfish and barracuda are regularly encountered.

Despite it all, the most effective method by far is simply to cast small metal or lead jigs into bait schools to pick off tuna and queenies with ease. This fishery is also available to fly anglers hoping to land a longtail or any of the numerous other species on fly.

The reef fishing is more varied yet again with most locals using baits of squid and prawns to apparently clean up on species such as blackspot tuskfish, golden snapper and big black jewfish. While bait can be effective, bouncing vibes and micro-jigs around the reef edges can also have some incredible effects and catch a wide variety of reef species such as cod, tuskfish, golden snapper, legal coral trout, wrasse, reef jacks and more all day long. While most fish rarely exceed 40cm, the odd larger fish can be hooked, but not necessarily landed. On most occasions this kind of fishing can mean a fish every couple of casts.

The freshwater fishing up here is also in a world of its own. Casting lures around crystal clear streams and lakes results in big sooty grunter, freshwater barra, coal grunter and the mythical saratoga also being a common catch. These fish are great fun. Remember to go light. Heavy gear will not only discourage the fish but also remove the enjoyment factor from fishing, as instead of fighting the fish to a stop they are simply skull dragged in. Remember these fish are very delicate and catch and release must be practiced with care.

Land-based fishing can also have its times for those without a boat or transport to go fishing elsewhere. Evans Landing Jetty is a great place to chase big queenfish and trevally on slugs and jigs. Dropping bait down off the jetty has seen anglers land species such as big barra and black jew, as I have experienced for myself when I landed my PB black jewfish of 114cm here. The Mission River Bridge has also got a large concrete slab underneath the bridge where grunter and salmon can be caught quite regularly.

Remember the varied waters of the Cape need a large variety of methods to be fished effectively, Don’t be afraid to try out new methods and chase different species for a change. Good luck to all anglers over the upcoming weeks and remember to think like a fish!

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