It’s that time of year when the grey nomads start to venture north as they try to escape the dreaded southern winter weather. With cool southwesterly or southeasterly winds blowing in the early hours of the morning, this is a great time of year to hit the water and fish through to the late hours of the afternoon, as we quite often see the bay glass-out.
We have definitely had contrasting weather conditions with weeks of strong winds and days of absolute glassed-out conditions. Although, this certainly hasn’t slowed the fishing down. We can only expect it to improve as the winter continues.
The winter whiting run has started and they are congregating in a number of different locations. Most of the fish are coming from out of Gatakers Bay, Dundowran and Toogoom. Smaller patches of fish have also started turning up south of the Urangan Harbour and off the bottom end of Big Woody. Just remember that there is a 50 fish possession limit per person.
Cured sand worms, small pieces of peeled prawn, fresh yabbies and worm imitation soft plastics have been working a treat, with the paternoster rig being the preferred rigging method to present the baits.
Our run of large local squid has started, although a little slower compared with previous years. Decently sized squid have been taken. They can be found around the inshore islands, rocky outcrops and weed beds throughout the bay. If the water clarity is good, you’ll find them throughout the straits. A slow roll retrieve is often all that is required to tempt one into committing to the jig. If they are standing off or playing with it, a small hop or sharp jerk of the jig can sometimes get them to react and attack.
Following the movement of squid into the bay are good numbers of quality size queenfish, rat kingfish and mixed trevally species. They are gorging themselves on the abundant food supply. You can’t beat a fast-paced topwater lure presentation at this time of year, as the strikes off the surface are truly incredible.
Soft plastic presentations fished down deep are another great option. Match it with an appropriately sized jighead for the conditions. The bigger tides often fish best when targeting these pelagic species and concentrating on the edge of the current lines and back eddies will deliver the greatest results.
The inshore reefs and scattered artificials have continued to produce good juvenile snapper with their numbers and sizes continually improving. The best period to target this wary species is during dawn or dusk. If these times coincide with a tide change, preferably the high tide, you can look forward to some exceptional fishing.
Areas holding large congregations of bait have also been attracting good numbers of pelagics. Mac tuna are feeding on the surface, while golden trevally and school mackerel have been holding down deeper. Trolling deep diving hardbodies has been a successful technique accounting for a whole host of different species. Drifting with soft plastics and floating baits is also proving successful.
There is still a lot of excitement surrounding the prawning scene. Good numbers of banana prawns have been located in our local creek and river systems. We should start to see good numbers coming from down the straits. Word is that there have also been excellent quality prawns caught along the beach at the front of Woodgate, if you can time it according to the right moon phase.
Mulloway are making their presence known at River Heads and throughout the many ledges within the straits, with some quality fish being caught on paddle-tail soft plastics. Live baiting is a great option when targeting mulloway and is most effective at night, with live pencil squid and pike being the preferred baits.
Grunter are around in good numbers with quality fish to 60cm being caught on a mixture of baits, metal vibes and soft plastics. The vast array of sand flats, creek mouths and rocky outcrops throughout the straits are attracting good numbers of flathead and bream with the lead up to the high tide period and the whole of the run out fishing best.
At this time of year the water is often gin clear, so it pays to drop your line and leader class. This will in turn draw more bites. Your choice of presentation can also affect your catch rate. Lightly weighted soft plastics and silent running hardbodies are always proven performers.
A mix of trevally and mackerel species have been showing up in good numbers with areas like the Burrum Eight-Mile, Six-Mile and Red Neds all holding large masses of bait drawing in the predatory species. Fishing the bigger tides around the full and new moon periods will always provide better pelagic action and they are great sport when targeting them with lures.
There is an influx of snapper making their way into Platypus Bay. Areas like the Washing Machines and various small isolated patches of coffee rock and rubble patches off Station Hill and Wathumba are fishing well. Slow fluttering micro-jigs and soft plastics have been rewarding anglers with their bag limits. For the bait fishos, a well-presented winter whiting, pilchard or pencil squid slowly drifted down the water column is as good a bait as any.
Creating a berley trail by cubing pilchards or using pellets is always a great option to draw the fish in to you. The main issue faced when doing this is attracting the ever-growing shark population. Nannygai are one of the other reef species that are abundant over much of the same country and can be caught using similar techniques.
The southern and northern gutters systems have really fired up over recent weeks and will continue to do so in the months to come. Some quality red emperor up to 14kg have been caught and anglers have reportedly been bagging out on large sweetlip, tuskfish and coral trout.
Cobia and Spanish mackerel have been out in full force over the more common grounds and around the deeper gutters. Sharks are a continual issue and even with the dropping water temperature they are still hanging around in large numbers, as always, taking a liking to anything red. If you’re being harassed by sharks, it’s advisable to move away and not waste quality fish on these predatory pests.
It’s definitely time to pull out the winter woollies, as the transition has well and truly taken place. We’re set to experience some incredible fishing over the next few months. Buckle up and tight lines!Reads: 386