There are lots of Yellowtail Kingfish in the seaway at the moment and some patterns of behaviour are emerging, this is what I know so far.
There are two sizes of Kingfish. Small fish in the 55-65cm Range and Big fish in the 90-120cm range. Each of these size ranges are feeding in different ways and area's so I'll cover each separately.
These small kingfish are feeding as a group, usually in schools of 20 plus fish but I have seen schools of 50+ fish feeding at the same time. These smaller fish are focused on the run-in tide particularly as the clean water pushes in and the South Wall of the seaway though sometimes they will venture over as far as the 3/4 line across the pipeline. Time of day doesn't seem to matter though they don't seem to like feeding before the sun is well up(5.00am) and after 5.30pm. They don't feed for long, 15-30 seconds is about it, so be close and get your lure in there or miss out.
On Monday afternoon from 4.30-5.30pm they fed all along the South Wall of the seaway every 5 minutes or so starting from 50m back from the tip and working thier way back towards the pipeline during the hour. They weren't fussy and skitterbaits were nailed as soon as they landed as long as you got into the feeding school. On Tuesday afternoon due to the late tide they appeared at around 5.15pm and did one long blitz all along the South Wall lasting about 5 minutes and then they were done. On Wednesday morning they fed every 10 minutes or so around the southern end of the pipeline up as far as the tower in close to the wall.
Slugs and slices around the 20 gram mark will work as would small stickbaits but they just can't seem to resist the skitterbait. The reason for that is the way they feed, they will often focus on one individual baitfish on the surface and chase it until they catch it and the skitterbait being a good imitation of the frogmouths around at the moment just looks like one more fleeing baitfish on the surface. They are often swimming at you when they take the lure so the hit can be a bit confusing, you think you have a fish on but there isn't alot of weight so keep winding until they finally realise they are hooked, then they will take off. These little kingfish are great fun on light gear and they don't fight as dirty as the big fella's do so you can fish them on any sort of light gear from 6lb to 15lb.
Kingfish feeding along the south wall on Monday afternoon
This is the average size small kingfish
These big Kingfish continue to cause anglers grief, more have been hooked this week but none landed. The main area for these big fella's is the Canyon and the northern channel leading north to the first set of channel markers. They have also been sighted numerous times around the Cross Channels markers particularly the Green one just south of Crab Island. You will also get the odd one around the pipeline. The Canyon fish are by far much easier to hook. Individual fish will come up to the surface to feed but these are hard to hook, what you are looking for is a group of kingfish, 5+ fish or more. If you can get a cast into the bustup while they are feeding like this your chances are good of hooking one. Accuracy matters, getting the lure right into the middle of the action is your best shot at getting a hookup, the further away from the main bustup the less likely you will hook one. Landing them is..... difficult. Most big kingfish hookups around the Canyon are over in less than a minute. If you can try and keep the line as vertical as possible and get them slugging underneath the boat, letting them run lots of line out gives them the best chance of escape as they only need to find a small rock to swim past and it's all over.
The run-in tide seems to be the most consistent time for them but they do throw in a bit of random behaviour coming up on the run-out tides. The most important thing is not too much chop in thier feeding area, on a run-in tide and a northerly wind the canyon chops up alot and they don't like to feed in that. The same tide with a South Easterly is much better and will see them up and active.
As for lures, skitterbaits are working well but there is also a chance with sinking stickbaits around the 9cm size and chrome like the gillies pilchard slugs might get hit as well. One technique which hasn't been mentioned before is trolling, now while it doesn't seem to work once the sun is up I did hook a big kingfish on Monday with a trolled Bolt Omega after sunset, unfortunately the hooks pulled as the fish was circling the boat but I was able to get a good look at him and he was every bit a meter long. It might have been just a once off(I tried again on tuesday with no luck), but if you are fishing the afternoons and the sun has just set it's worthwhile putting a minnow out and having a troll around, if you don't get a kingfish you might get a one of the other species that frequents the area.
Giant Trevally or GT’s are the second most common Trevally species in the Seaway but are the largest, most sought after and one of the hardest fighting. This article covers everything I know about Giant Trevally so far.... Where and when to look, how to catch them and with what.
Giant Trevally can be caught all year round though they are much more common from January to June. They will feed at all water levels depending on their mood on the day, if there is lots of bait around they will feed on surface. January through to May sees the larger fish holding in the seaway in big numbers and once an active school is found some excellent fishing can result though bite times tend to be short.
Active vs Non Active
Active Giant Trevally are those hunting food, they do this for only a couple of hours a day, usually at dawn or dusk but if there is lots of bait they will feed according to the tides with the second half of the run in tide being the most consistent time. Non Active fish are those schooled up and not feeding, usually in The Canyon, over The Pipeline or in the North Wall Deep Hole. Non active fish usually do not eat anything though you might be able to tempt the odd fish with a finesse plastic or a livebait. When a school has become active they usually move away from their holding area's and into feeding areas. GT's holding in the Canyon will move into the Northern Y and Northern Channel, GT's holding on the pipeline will move into the triangle or the eastern seaway channel, GT's holding in the Deep Hole will move in front of the north wall, along the dropoff or into the eastern channel. I have also tracked them moving from the end of the north wall right through to the Northern Y before they decided to feed.
Active GT's feeding on the eastern side of the Canyon
Inactive GT's in the Canyon
Giant Trevally Movements
Giant Trevally have specific movement and behavioural patterns within the seaway area. While there are still a few unknown area’s where they disappear to for a few days I have mapped out a fairly decent range of movements for them. There are fairly well defined hold and feeding area's though they sometimes overlap.
GT Holding Area's Daytime
North Wall Deep Hole
GT Holding Area's Night-Time
North Wall Tip 100m East
North Wall Deep Hole
GT Feeding Area's
South Wall Surf Side(Only when swell is running)
South Wall Line(run out tide only)
Eastern Seaway Channel
North Wall Dropoff East(The Line - Run-in and Run-out Tide)
North Wall Flats Dropoff(Only when a swell is running)
North Wall Deep Hole
North Wall Runway
North Wall Eddy
Sea World Deep Hole
Giant Trevally feed in a number of ways, when they are chasing baitfish on the surface one GT will take a leading position, with others trailing behind it. Several fish will attack the prey school, striking and stunning the prey, while the bulk of the school helps disorient the bait. Some fish act individually and opportunistically within the school if one of the baitfish becomes isolated, the main advantage of schooling is the ability to further break up and isolate baitfish schools. Giant Trevally will generally only feed on the surface when there are large schools of baitfish around. This can happen anywhere within the Seaway and Broadwater.
GT's feeding on surface near the seaway mouth
The North Wall
GT’s can be found all around the north wall, but they feed in different ways and in different areas according to the tide and time of day. Edge fishing usually only yields the odd fish on poppers, stickbaits and minnows in the early mornings or late afternoons. Casting a vib or a metal onto the flats on the northern side in the mornings and bringing back over the dropoff can be an excellent technique if theres a bit of swell running, they won't be sitting there if its calm. GT's will often sit at the base of the rear swell on the North Wall Flats and a twistie dropped to the bottom is often eaten on the drop. During a runout, the GT's will sit in the deep hole area, these fish are usually taken on livebaits and plastics but metals can be used as well if you can find a school. At night on a runout tide GT’s will often sit on the bottom in a large flat school approximately 100m out in front of the north wall tip in 9 metres of water. These fish can be tempted by very slow rolling plastics like the Squidgy Slick rigs in 65mm or Zman 2.5" Curl Tails through the school. Surface feeding fish are rare around the North Wall but occasionally schools will pop up around the front of the wall or in the channel between the walls if a school of baitfish comes through, just keep an eye out for any birds flying around. Schools of Giant trevally can also hold further out along the eastern dropoff(The Line) than most fish, 50m away from the eastern end of the wall is a good place to start looking.
The edge of the North Wall Deep Hole
The South Wall
The South Wall fishes best for GT’s when there is a bit of swell running, unfortunately its also very difficult to fish from a boat and get your lure in the zone because of the way the swell hits the wall. Metals cast from a safe distance can yield some good fish but you need long distance casting gear for that, even then you still won't get close enough. You can fish along the walls with vibs and plastics, just bump them along the bottom with an occasional twitch. there is a 14 metre drop-off approximately 20m out from the wall where the GT's will sometimes sit, plastics flicked through this area can pick up a few fish. During a run-out tide when there is no swell its worth dropping a lure down on the current line leading out from the wall as sometimes small schools hold in that area.
The area where the rocks meet the sand on the south wall
The Pipeline and The Triangle
The Pipeline is one of the area's Giant Trevally will hold when they are not feeding, it can hold hold massive schools of hundreds of Giant Trevally at times. Giant Trevally will hold here until a school of baitfish comes through then they will move away from the pipe and bust the surface in huge numbers. When this happens 30gram twisties(or other slugs/metals) and poppers thrown into the school usually hookup. You can also try dropping metals, plastics or vibs down next to the pipeline and retrieving them quickly back to the surface. A livebait drifted over the top of the pipe during the run in tide usually picks up a GT or two. You should keep an eye on the area just west of the pipe as well(The Triangle), as small schools will often move off the pipe and sit 20-50m off the pipe on a run in tide. For these fish, 30 gram twisties or microjigs dropped to the bottom will often pick up a few fish.
The Northern Y
The Northern Y is a Giant Trevally feeding area. If they are in this area they are usually in feeding mode and you can catch them on trolled lures, metals, plastics or poppers if they are super active. They can be found anywhere within this area but prefer sitting around the rocky areas in the northern middle and to the eastern side of the channel. You are more likely to get GT's in the Northern Y during the Dawn or Dusk periods.
Wavebreak Island & The Canyon
The Canyon is a deep trench that runs east and north from the end of the North Wavebreak Wall for approximately 100 metres, large schools of Giant Trevally will often hold along the edges of the canyon and in the canyon itself. Similar to the pipeline the GT's will hold here until a school of baitfish comes through then move out of the canyon and bust the surface. You can troll along or over this area with deep diving minnows that dive to 4m+ or drop plastics down into the school and poppers cast around can often bring a fish up from the bottom. The best areas to troll are the edges of the canyon particularly the most eastern edge roughly halfway across the channel.
The edge of the Canyon
The Northern Channel
The Northern Channel is a GT feeding area, from the southern end near Wavebreak to the Northern end around Crab Island, GT's will feed anywhere in this area depending on the bait around. It is impossible to predict when they will decide to feed in this area, I have seen them do it at various times of the day and throughout all stages of tide. You just need to keep an eye on it and look for any bird or fish activity.
The Seaworld Deep Hole
The Seaworld Deep Hole sometimes holds small schools of big GT's, these fish usually only feed just on dawn as the sun just peeps over the horizon or just on the top of the tide and usually only for 10 minutes or so. They can feed anywhere from the area near the boat ramp out to the channel. Just keep an eye out for any bustups or bird activity , as they will know when the GT's are active.
Lures and Techniques
Slugs and slices account for a decent percentage of GT captures. 20-30gram Twisties, Spanyid Raiders, Surecatch Knights, Gillies Baitfish and Pilchards all work when thrown into a school of feeding fish. The important thing to remember with slugs cast at feeding GT's is to keep the speed slow to moderate, fast retrieve's (especially on high speed reels)tend not to get hit as the GT's can't keep up, they are fast but they aren't tuna. Metals can also be jigged vertically through schools of fish. Drop them to the bottom and slowly wind it up to the surface works, as does dropping it down do a fast rip for about 5 metres then sinking it back down and repeat, you can also to 5 fast jigs in a row then let it drift back down. A long cast letting it sink to the bottom and winding it back at a moderate speed is also an excellent technique.
These are the metals proven to work on GT's:
Gillies Baitfish - 15 & 25gram
Gillies Pilchard - 25 & 40 gram
Surecatch Knight 20 & 40gram
Spanyid Raider 20 & 40gram
Halco Twisty 20 & 30gram
GT caught on a Gillies Baitfish 25gram
Trolling works exceptionally well on GT's in the seaway. Deep diving lures are needed with a minimum of 3 metres depth, but 4 metres plus is recommended for most areas. The best lures are the Bolt Omega, Rapala Magnum 15 and Maria Deep Snare but most deep diving lures will work. Trolling can work during the day particularly on a run in tide but the best trolling times are between dawn and the couple of hours after, and 3pm and dusk regardless of tide. Trolling around the Northern Y and Canyon, over the Pipeline and around the North Wall are the best area's for trolling for GT's. See the Trolling the Seaway Article for more information on Trolling.
These are the lures proven to work so far on trolled GT's:
Halco Laser Pro 120
Maria Deep Snare 120
Rapala Magnum 10, 15 & 20
Double hookup on GT's while trolling
Poppers and Stickbaits
Poppers can work very well on GT's if they are active. I have seen GT's come up off the bottom in 8 metre's of water to hit a popper, this is quite common around the Canyon and the Northern Y channel right next to it. A popper thrown into a bust-up is usually eaten very quickly, especially during low light periods. There are two methods that work quite well, you can just do a straight retrieve at a medium to fast speed or you can do a blooping retrieve. The 3 Bloop Pause is the technique I use the most. Smaller stickbait's like the Cultiva Tango Dancer or the Atomic K9 Bulldog seem to work reasonably well once the sun is up, but big poppers seem to be the go for dawn/dusk. Stickbait's are usually worked with a Walk the Dog type retrieve, basically wiggling the tip as you retrieve and the stickbait should pop from side to side. You can also just wind them straight in. You can work larger stickbaits like the Saltiga Dorado Slider with a far more aggressive jerking retrieve. Don’t forget to pause it occasionally as many fish will hit them on a pause.
Poppers and Stickbait's that are proven to work with GT's:
Rapala Skitter Pop 7 & 9
Halco Roosta Popper 105
River2 Sea Bubble Pop 88,110 & 130
Tackle House Feed Popper 120
Owner Cultiva Tango Dancer 95 & 115
Daiwa Dorado Slider 14 F & 14S
Atomic K9 Bulldog
Little Jack Seguroid 70
Double hookup on GT's with Poppers
Soft Plastic's work okay on GT's and work fairly well at picking up random fish when you are prospecting. Plastics like the Gulp Jerkshads in any of the sizes, Zman 3" MinnowZ, Squidgy Slick Rigs in 65 & 85mm will all work. When you are prospecting for GT's a simple triple flick with the rod and then let it sink back down works fine. When they are feeding on surface during the middle of the day and refuse to hit any metals or poppers, split shot rigged Flash J’s in Glow Silver will work but any decent baitfish imitation plastic would do. Cast the plastic into the school and let it sit for a few seconds before giving it a slight flick then let it sit, then another flick. You are trying to imitate a dying baitfish so keep the erratic movements to a minimum. Working a plastic through the bottom sulking fish in daytime holding area's sometimes picks up a fish or two, but don’t expect too many that way.
Soft Plastics that are proven to work with GT's:
Ecogear Grass Minnows M
Pearl Sliders 3"
FishArrow Flash J 3"
Zman MinnowZ 3"
Gulp JerkShads 3, 5 & 7"
Squidgy SlickRigs 65 & 80mm
This GT was caught slow rolling a Squidgy Slick rig 80mm over the tip of the north wall
Vibs or Vibrating Lures can be a very effective lure for GT's at times as they sink fast and stay down deep. On a medium speed retrieve they stay close to the bottom and heavy vibs(30gm+) can even be trolled effectively around the North Wall and Northern Y. The best area's for vib's are around the pipeline, down in the Canyon and on the North Wall Flats. You can cast them out and do a slow lift and drop retrieve, or do a fast burn with a couple of pauses back to the boat. You can jig them vertically just using a slow lift and drop or up the pace with a fast jig 5 times in a row before you drop it back down. While Vibs are not used as commonly as other lures, they are still very effective at catching GT's.
Vibs that are proven to work with GT's:
SF Vivi 30s
Zipbaits Vib 25 & 35
This GT was one of a dozen caught casting a Zipbaits Vib 25 over the North Wall Flats Dropoff
Giant trevally are a reasonably common catch on livebaits. Any livies will work but pike and yellowtail are my preferred baits. The Runway, the Deep Hole and the Pipeline are the best spots for livebaiting GT’s. With the Pipeline, drift the livebait approximately 6 metres down, Giant Trevally will dart up from their holding position on the pipe to grab it as it drifts past on a run-in tide. On the Runway and Deep Hole, keep your baits around 1 metre off the bottom for best results. See the Livebaiting the Seaway article for more information on Livebaiting.
GT's are not afraid of big lures, I have caught alot of fish this year on large Poppers(River2Sea Bubble Pop 130) and minnows as large as the Rapala Magnum 20(14cm). These larger lures tend to work better than small lures in low light situations around dawn or dusk or on the bottom of the runout tides during the day. Size of lure doesn't seem to make a difference on the size of GT you get, I've caught small GT's on big lures and vice versa.
This 74cm Gt took a Rapala Magnum 20
We have certainly seen more GT's caught in 2013 than in any other year but there is still a way to go before the complete story of the seaway GT's is revealed. Where they disappear to I don't know, but I continue to gather information about movements and behaviour in the hope of completing the puzzle. If you have anything else to add let me know below.
Tarpon. The name is almost mystical, spoken about in hushed tones by those in the know. Highly sought after by sportfisherman yet rarely caught these leaping silver demons visit the seaway every year from March through to August, sometimes in big numbers. The average size of Seaway Tarpon is big, around 60cm with occasional fish nudging the 70cm mark. Yet the amount of people that specialise in catching them in the Seaway can be counted on one hand. There is a couple of reason's for that.
Firstly, Tarpon are hard to catch in the Seaway consistently. It requires hours of casting, casting and more casting.... did I mention you'll have to do alot of casting? Sure sometimes you'll turn up and the fish will be on the bite from the first cast, but most of the time the fish move around and you'll have to locate where they are holding on the day...and that means lots of casting. Secondly, consistently catching Tarpon means fishing at night around the walls and some people are not comfortable with that which is fair enough, it should not be attempted anyway except for those with a long history of fishing the seaway during the day. Knowledge of how the Seaway's currents and wind directions affect your boats drift is essential for safety. Good night vision is also essential. Between 9pm and 5am you are on your own and there is noone to help if you get into difficulty. You should always be wearing a lifejacket fishing at night around the seaway walls.
At the moment Tarpon are easier to catch than ever in the Seaway, you can even do it during the day. All you have to do is turn up halfway during a runout tide any time of day and fish the bottom of the Northern Y(see Map 1) with plastics. Just cast out, let it sink and slow roll it back. Simple.. Well hooking them is simple, landing them can be quite difficult(understatement of the year there).
This article is not about this abberration of behaviour, this is not likely to last very long and I want to concentrate on proven longer term methods. That means fishing at night around the edges of the seaway walls. Now , the one thing I'm not going to do is put down exact locations on where to look. That would be pointless anyway as they move around from day to day and where they were yesterday is not where they will be today. Sometimes they will be tightly packed in one small area, others they will be spread out over the entire wall. Some nights they'll be right in close to the rocks in a metre or so of water, others they'll be sitting near the bottom in 20 metres of water. Just concentrate on casting your plastics at the edges of the seaway walls, as close as possible while keeping an eye on your sounder and soon enough you'll be hooking Tarpon.
Tarpon prefer to feed at night or in low light conditions, those massive eye's have a superior edge over anything else in the water and makes it easy to hunt the baitfish they are after. They will feed during the day but prefer dirty or discoloured water. Tarpon will feed whether the moon is up or down, if it is calm or it is blowing 30kts, if it's raining or not, at any stage of the tide or in any swell size. Of course just because they can feed during all of those doesn't mean they will. The one thing that can be said about Tarpon is that they are lazy, you won't find them in places of strong current, chances are they will be close by though, in an eddy close to the current that brings them the food. They wan't maximum return for smallest effort. On the smaller tides they will be closer to the ends of the walls, on larger tides further back down the walls where there is still places for them to sit and grab food without expending too much energy.
If you've been paying attention then you will know that my favourite plastic is the CCM(Chika Chika Muroran) Ecogear Grass Minnow M on a 3/8oz head. This little plastic has accounted for hundreds of Tarpon(and lots of GT's,Tailor, Bigeyes) and is my go to lure when they are fussy. Other plastics that get an honourable mention are the 70 & 85mm Dropbear Slick Rigs and Zman 2.5" Pearl curl tails. Most plastics will work if they are in the mood and I've even caught quite a few on shallow running minnows like the Lucky Strike King Hunter and others up to 14cm in length. Make sure your jigheads are up to the task as well, heavy duty jigheads are a must. I prefer TT 3/8 or 1/2oz 3/0H in the the plain or headlockz varieties.
Any light spinning outfit can handle Tarpon, as long as it has a decent drag. They don't fight dirty, thier runs are short and most of the time is spent in the air not in the water. Most fights are over in minutes. What you do need however is a decent leader, 30lb minimum. Tarpon are quite capable of wearing through 20lb leader in a single fight but 30 seems to be able to handle a couple of fish without changing. Keep an eye on that leader though, if you are hooking alot it will need cutting and retieing every few fish. If you don't you'll end up losing lures. For this reason I usually start with a longer leader than usual, around 1.5 metres. A standard jighead rigged plastic works fine but if you find yourself looking for a rig that has a slightly higher retention rate after the first jump, look at the Texas rig. Thats just a running sinker straight down to a straight hook, I use a gamakatsu SST 15 in size 1/0. The running sinker gives the tarpon much less leverage to throw the hook on its jumps. It's not perfect but then no rig is when it comes to these fish.
When casting the edges for Tarpon with plastics, there are two techniques you need to learn, The Slow Roll and Deadsticking. Don't jig it, don't flick it or do anything fancy it will only make them lose interest. The Slow Roll is simply casting out and slow winding back. Deadsticking is just letting it sit there and drift in the current, mainly used when the Tarpon are close to the bottom or out a bit from the wall in deeper water. If there are Tarpon in the area, you soon know because of....
The Tarpon Tap
This isn't a fancy new dance step, if you want to chase Tarpon then you have to learn to recognise the Tarpon Tap. This is what Tarpon do when they aren't feeding aggressively(which is most of the time). They come up behind your lure and nudge it, hit it, grab it with just the front of thier mouth. This registers on the line as a tap, sometimes they will do this multiple times on a single retrieve, sometimes they will grab it after a few taps, sometimes they will tap it all the way to the boat before grabbing it, others they will lose interest. The best indication you are in the right area for Tarpon is the tap so learn to recognise it and if you get just one tap on a drift make sure you cover that area again on a second drift. Sometimes Tarpon need to be teased into biting so doing multiple drifts is important.
Hookup & Fight
So you have your lure in the water, slow rolling and you are getting tapped, what happens next. Well the hookup is next and you only strike when you feel the weight of the fish, once you strike you can expect the Tarpon to come shooting out of the water immediately, most tarpon are lost on the first jump. After the first jump they will usually swim straight at you to create slack line and then jump close to the boat quite often throwing the lure right back at you(Tip: Wear Safety Glasses if you value your eyesight). A Tarpon jump is a thing of wonder, they will launch themselves around a metre out of the water and proceed to shake thier heads up to 10 times in a single jump, if they do this multiple times during a fight and the fish is hooked deeply thats the equivalent of around 50 rubs on your leader with a coarse sandpaper. No wonder they are experts at wearing through light leaders. There is no best method in staying hooked up to a Tarpon, sometimes they will stay attached, sometimes they won't but when they are near the boat I reccomend keeping the rod tip as high as possible, this will increase the line pressure and reduce the amount of slack line given to the fish when he jumps. If you are really keen you can use one of his jumps to propel him into the boat.
Landing a tarpon is difficult, you can lift them into the boat on the trace if you are feeling brave, the best method is a landing net but they still have plenty of juice left when you are trying to net them and this is when many rods are broken. Tarpon do not stop fighting when they get into the boat, if anything thats when they take it into high gear. I use the term 'wrestling' when a tarpon gets into the boat, the larger fish in particular will just not stop moving. Getting them to sit still enough for a photo is difficult and getting them to sit still for a mat shot is damn near impossible. For this reason I reccomend taking a photo of only one fish per session and immediately releasing the rest. Don't think using a pair of lip grippers will help you either because it won't. They will quite happily struggle so much you will end up tearing thier mouth apart with the grippers, not good for a fish you intend on releasing. Holding them upside down will calm the fish enough to get the hook out.
Lastly but most importantly, Tarpon should be released or considered a catch and release only fish. They are full of bones, apparently taste terrible and they smell even worse so let them go for another day.
So in summary, Tarpon are a hard fish to find, to hook, to stay attached to, to land, to photograph, to measure. In short the ultimate target for any sportsfisherman. They are highly addictive, very frustrating and my favourite of all the seaway species. If you decide to take up the challenge of the seaway Tarpon and you find yourself cursing me in the middle of the night after you have lost your 10th straight tarpon without getting a fish in the boat... Don't say I didn't warn you.
So 6 weeks on from the initial sighting of the surface feeding Giant Trevally things are changing. The dredge has moved(why haven't they removed the 6kt signs??) and I'm sure this was the catalyst for this change in behaviour, as there seems to be less baitfish schools coming through over the canyon dropoff where the GT's like to sit. There seems to be an increase in the number of days they spend sulking on the bottom during the day and some increased feeding behaviour in the dawn/dusk time period. The good news is when they do decide to feed they are becoming less fussy and are more willing to hit a wider range of lures. Metals no longer rule the roost when it comes to catching GT's in the broadwater. Surface lures are the new king and some of the surface strikes are awesome to behold.
Some of you have been fishing on surface using poppers and stickbaits for a while, and I've been experimenting for a couple of weeks with plastics and minnows. I've just started to take surface fishing for them seriously and it works very well(yes... sometimes I'm a bit slow). Blind casting along the flats of wavebreak works in the low light hours of dawn or dusk and once the sun is up the edge of the canyon or casting underneath inquisitive birds also works. Stickbaits like the Cultiva Tango Dancer or the Atomic K9 Bulldog seem to work better once the sun is up, but big poppers seem to be the go for dawn/dusk. I have used poppers up to 14cm in size on these low light hunting fish and they aren't bothered in the slightest so don't be shy about going large as it gets dark. Any popper will do, successful ones so far have been the Halco Roosta Popper, River2Sea Bubble Pop in 9 & 14cm, and TackleHouse Feed Popper 120.
As far as techniques go, stickbaits are usually worked with a Walk the Dog type retrieve, basically wiggling the tip as you retrieve and the stickbait should pop from side to side. It takes a bit of practice to perfect. If any of you want to be shown that retrieve ask me when I'm out on the water and I'll give you a demo. You can also just wind them straight in. You can work larger stickbaits like the Saltiga Dorado Slider with a far more aggressive jerking retrieve. Poppers just need a steady jerking retrieve to get a steady pop going. Don't forget to pause it occasionally as many fish will hit them on a pause.
On to minnows, I did alot of work with minnows during last week and cast into a bustup and blind casting with a steady retrieve they work just fine, I was using a Rapala XR8 in chrome, the only problem was the smaller hooks had trouble sticking to such large fish and I lost quite a few. I'm sure that larger minnows cast around would work as well, particularly at dawn or dusk.
Plastics have been working alright on the sulking fish on the bottom or cast into bustups. I've been using Squidgy Flickbaits in Pearl or Pilchard on jigheads from 3/8 down to 1/4 oz and split shot rigged Flash J's in Glow Silver but I'm sure any minnow shaped plastic would do. Working a plastic through the sulking fish on the bottom usually picks up a fish or two, but don't expect too many that way.
This article has been produced from talking with multiple anglers so consider it the first SeawayFishing Community Effort.
So thats where we are at the moment, if you have anything else to add write it in the comments.
Getting a camera into the middle of feeding fish is not easy, usually it takes many attempts and when you do you only get a few seconds of footage. The fish don't seem to be bothered by the camera though most will look at it as they swim past. The results are worth it, and they give you an understanding of how each type of fish feed and you can adjust your techniques to suit. So here for the first time ever are pictures showing whats going on underneath some of those feeding fish you see on the surface.
Giant Trevally travel in large schools, the bulk of the school stays below and helps to drive the bait, individual fish hit the surface then vertically crash dive down 2-3 metres to swallow the food. When not herding bait they hold close to the bottom.
Bigeye Trevally travel in large schools near the surface to drive the bait then attack en masse swallowing the bait as they go, once the bait is scattered they dive down deep and school mid water.
Tailor drive the bait school from below up to the surface then individuals or a part of the school attack the bait, chopped pieces of bait drift back down through the water column to be picked up by part of the school below.
Yellowtail Kingfish hunt as singles or part of a small school. Their feeding style is slow and methodical and what I call mooching. Basically spotting some bait near the surface then coming up with a big open mouth and taking a mouthful then going back down.
And just for something interesting here's some manta rays that have been doing the rounds lately.
Still on the to photograph list.. Tuna, Bonito, Mackerel, Queenfish.
So, the Yellowtail Kingfish, one of the top tier predators in the seaway and broadwater, commonly seen at lengths around 1 metre, occasionally hooked and but rarely landed. Sleek, powerful torpedos of muscle that will make short work of any weakness in tackle. Dirty fighters from the second they get hooked, the first run will see them in a headlong rush to the nearest bit of structure, if they can't break your tackle they will use anything they can find to do it for them. Beacons, coffee rock formations, rock walls, mooring lines and even the outboard leg of your motor are fair game. To read the full post click here.. Restricted to paid members only
This page will be used for tracking surface feeding behaviour of Giant Trevally in the Seaway and Broadwater. It is my hope that by the end of this year the data will show a pattern we can use to more accurately predict Giant Trevally feeding behaviour. The more details you guys share the more accurate the info.
Giant Trevally & Kingfish Tracking
Level of Activity
Halfway through run in tide
Medium, bustups every 20 minutes or so
Heavy overcast, 20kt ESE winds
100m north of the dredge first, then along wavebreak rock wall.
1.45pm once only
Bulk of the action in the top half of the tide. GT's only
High, Bustups every 10 minutes
Overcast, 15kt NNE
Point of wavebreak rock wall, next to the yellow X
4.20pm-5.40pm GT's and Kingfish
High, Bustups between 5 and 10 minutes apart
Overcast, stormy, NNW 15kts
Nth Wavebreak Yellow x to Pipeline
7.00am-8.30am Kingfish Mainly
Medium/High, bustups between 10 and 15 minutes apart
I define Greenback Tailor as any fish over 60cm or over 2.5kg. You won't find too many fish in the seaway at this size, most are loners or are swimming with groups of smaller fish. The ideal method to catch big Tailor like this is using live pike or a strip of bonito, but thats kinda boring. Targeting greenbacks on lures is more challenging and more fun so this article will go into a bit of detail on how I and others have caught these larger fish on lures. I'm going to do this on a case by case basis, detailing the conditions and techniques used at the time. Between now and February is when you will catch the big ones on lures so its a good time to try for one.
This 65cm Tailor was caught on the 25th January 2007, no swell no wind and it was at top of the tide with minimal tidal movement. Water visibilty was about 3 metres. It hit the 9cm Redhead Skitter pop close to the rocks at around 6am using a 3 bloop pause retrieve, one of the first fish caught on the redhead skitter pop, a lure which I now consider to be one of the must have lures for the seaway.
This 67cm Tailor was caught on the 25th November 2007, on that particular day the usual techniques (twisties, minnows and poppers) had yielded nothing, the tide was incoming and there was a 15kt Se wind blowing making things difficult. Water visibility was about 2 metres. As a last ditch effort at around 8am I put on a 35gram sniper(chrome lure) cast it into the current line gave it a 6 second sink time and cranked it back. As the lure neared the boat and started skipping along the surface this tailor had one swipe at it, missed and then connected on the second strike. Once we had landed this fish, using the same technique we then went to land another dozen fish between 50 & 60cm. A classic example of finding just the right technique on the day. They didn't want the smaller 20gram twisties we were throwing and would only hit 35-40gram chromes.
This 65cm Tailor was caught on the 15th November 2008, the tide was running in, no wind, 1 metre SE Swell, water visibility was about 2 metres and he hit the redhead skitter pop using a steady walk the dog retrieve about 2 metres away from the rocks at around 4.30am.
This 71cm Tailor was caught on the 3rd December 2009, It was the first half of the runout tide, no wind or swell, visibility was around 3 metres. This particular fish hit an 85gram Raider (yes thats right 85gram.. the big one) that was cast along the front of the wall and retrieved using a steady retrieve, he hit it about 2 metres out from the rocks then went on to put on an excellent aerial display. It was hooked around 4.30am.
This 63cm Tailor was caught on the 2nd November 2010, tide was running in, 1 metre ESE swell, water vis was 1.5m. This fish took a Zipbaits system minnow 15f being worked with a stop start retrieve about a metre away from the wall just on first light at around 4am.
This 63cm Tailor was caught on the 11th November 2009, no wind, 1m NE swell on a run in tide. Water vis was about 2 metres. The fish struck the 9cm Metallic skitter pop on a 3 bloop pause retrieve about 3 metres away from the rock wall, the fish had a couple of goes at it before hooking up properly. When you get a few hits without a hookup, stop the retrieve and jiggle the lure in place, most of the time the fish will come back and smash the lure and hookup.
And last but definitely not least Dad got this 74cm Tailor on the 9th November 2011. Water visibilty was poor with less than a metre due to disturbed sand thanks to the prevailing northerly winds. 1 metre NE swell with a 10 kt Northerly wind. Despite catching a few small tailor on twisties it was quiet, after a switch to a 9cm skitter pop in a mullet colour, dad nailed this fish on his second cast about 1 metre away from the rock wall just on sunrise at 5am. We continued to catch a few more tailor on poppers after that.
So looking at that info, it looks like we have a few things we can look at for targeting greenbacks on lures.
Cast close to the walls, as close as you dare, any more than a few metres away from the rock edge and you are out of the zone.
Use reasonable size lures, preferably 9cm and above. Big Tailor are not scared of attacking a 40cm pike so a 9cm lure is just a snack to them.
While catching greenbacks is certainly possible once the sun is in the sky, most of them are caught between first light and sunup.
Water clarity, tide and swell do not seem to matter, though run in tides do seen to yield them more consistently.
Now you'll notice that all of those lures only cover the top couple of metres of water, so what about the fish on the bottom where all the livie caught fish hang out? Unfortunately while I've managed to catch a couple of fish that would have just nudged 60cm on the bottom with vibs and plastics, I'm yet to see a consistent method of lure fishing to target those fish. While they are quite happy to hit a pike as soon as you put it down there, they'll ignore lures all day long.
Live bait can catch some great fish at times and most of the time will outfish lures but its not a technique thats guaranteed to catch a fish. The trouble is that good quality live baits are often harder to catch than the bigger fish and it can take hours to catch enough for a couple of hours fishing. This article will detail most of the livebaits that can be used, how to catch them and where you might find them.
My favourite livebait and one of the biggest livebaits with an average size around 30cm. Size can be an issue, 40cm plus models are usually only taken by big fish such as metre long kingies and mulloway. Smaller fish such as Tailor and trevally prefer the smaller models around 30cm. Pike can be caught around any of the weedbeds of the broadwater, particularly the weedbeds around Wavebreak and Crab island and the weedbeds at the mouth of Loder's Creek & western side of South Stradbroke Island. Unfortunately between May and September these weedbeds are netted on a weekly basis by the mullet netters and pike are rare during this time. You can catch them on small minnows (rapala XR6 & XR4) & small plastics (2 inch curl tails or paddle tails)on light jigheads. Try trolling a minnow around until you find the school, then throw plastics at them. The top half of the tide is the best time to get them. Pike can be caught around bridges and lighted jetties at night using small minnows or plastcis but its not something you can rely on unless you find a decent sized school that stays in the same area.
Pike can also be caught offshore on the shallow bait reefs, sometimes during the day but more often at night. You can get them on 3" Gulp minnows on 1/2 oz jigheads, you need to go that heavy because they are holding between 10 & 20 metres down. You can also catch them on any flesh baits or white pilchards. They are a different species but the fish still like them just as much, getting small ones can be a challenge though, the average size can be around 45cm. The offshore pike also require alot of water changes as the water fouls quickly so keep an eye on them to make sure you don't lose your hard earned baits.
Yellowtail & Slimy Mackerel
Yellowtail & Slimies are usually only found offshore on the shallow bait reefs but sometimes you can get them around the ends of the walls. Usually caught on the 6 hook bait jigs, they can also be caught on baits of peeled prawn and any fish flesh. They are much easier to catch at dawn than during the day or at night. Most fish will eat a yellowtail or slimy mackerel and GT's in particular have a big liking for them. Weather permitting Yellowtail are probably the easiest of the livebaits to catch, slimies are alot harder to catch and not something you can rely on. Look for the other boats east of the sand pumping jetty in 20m of water to find the shallow bait reefs.
The first thing to remember with sea mullet is that they do have a size limit of 30cm so don't keep any small sea mullet in your livewell. You can use small yellow eye or sand mullet though, if you can't tell the difference better not to use them at all. Mullet are very hardy and will last forever in your livewell, they aren't quite as good a livie as the first two but better than nothing. Mulloway and cod will still happily take a live mullet of any size. The best chance of getting live mullet is in a cast net, try in any of the canal estates close to the seaway. You can catch sand mullet on a hook baited with bread, just berley them up and use a size 12 hook with a small bit of bread under a float.
Herring can be caught around jetties and bridges, cast nets are preferred but they can also be berleyed up with bread and caught on bait jigs. Herring are probably the most used livebait in the seaway but they do attract bream all the time which is annoying. They do catch good fish though, tailor, trevally and small jewies will happily eat them. Useful if you can't catch anything else and still better than mullet.
Hardyheads, White pilchards & Frogmouth Pilchards
These small baitfish have limited uses in the seaway but can be useful for catching tarpon, trevally or tailor. Numbers of these fish are seasonal and tend to hang around different places every year so its pretty much as case of catch them when you find them. Most of these fish can only be caught with a cast net, but hardyheads can be berleyed up with bread and caught on bait jigs.
Squid would be an ideal livie but I don't know anywhere you can catch them regularly, they do show up around lighted areas at night and the weedbeds around wavebreak during winter. The only problem is they wont last in a livewell and die quickly so use them quick if you get them.
Tailor are useful as a livie for mulloway but make sure you use its over the legal size of 35cm, check the tailor fishing article for more hints on those.
Decent sized Prawns are a good livie as well, but there's nowhere near the seaway you can catch them regularly.
Silverbiddies also have a good reputation, cast netting around sandbanks are the main way of catching them, but the bigger models can be caught on peeled prawns and small hooks.
Garfish would also be a very good bait, but they are one species I haven't tried yet. You can catch them on the western side of wavebreak, put down some bread berley and fish with small hooks under a float.
Might kick off my first post with a bit of a profile on Hairtail.
These grow to around 2400mm and around 6kgs and although they're not the greatest fighter they are beautiful yet mean, they release well if handled carefully, eat well if your so inclined (scrub the scales off with a scrubbing brush then fillet) and offer a bit of variety to your catch.
They'll usually move in with the winter bait schools (Sprats and Hardyheads) in late April and hang around till the water warms up again around Oct-Nov.
This species is quite often encountered by bait fishermen in the Broadwater but relatively rarely landed as they will make short work of any mono that even goes near their mouth.
The best methods of capture are either lure or bait, for bait fishing the ideal rig is a single Occy hook of around 2/0 on a short length of 27lb single stand wire (100-150mm) and either a s/s ring or #8 black swivel for attaching the main line. Anchoring and burleying is important in bringing the fish to you and will quite often result in fish flashing through your burley trail right at the stern, a good stern light is also a great help in bringing the bait fish to your boat wich in turn will bring in the Hairtail. For baits I prefer a small cube or strip of flesh or a whole Hardyhead which is floated unweighted down the burley trail or if there's no current cast out and allowed to slowly sink.
Lure fishing for Hairtail is very simply a matter of slow trolling (around 2 knots water speed) a suitable lure through their regular haunts, highly reflective lures give the best results at night (when they're most active), I prefer the Rapala Xraps but there are plenty of others out there, look for shallow running lures around 100mm, smaller lures are ok as well but should be run on wire unless your rich, deeper running lures are better when there's still a bit of sun on the water, troll your lures about 30-40 meters back. Fly fishing will take them as well and works best when anchored and burleying, small white deceivers on a short length of wire fished on 6-7 weight sink tip and 3-4kg tippet is ample. You can also site cast in these situations so it pays to have a bit of an arsenal rigged ready to go, just keep in mind that Hairtail are a surface feeder though they rarely break the surface so poppers and sliders (stickbaits) are less effective.
Hunting them down is not that difficult once you learn their habits, they will travel with the currents and follow the bait schools up and down the Broadwater but prefer to feed in areas where they can sit out of the current and wait in ambush. A sounder is a must in locating the bait, from there you look for areas that may form an eddie such as canal entrances, corners, bends, drop offs and holes (you may as well troll while ya looking) a good starting point is the Seaworld basin.
Landing Hairtail is an art form all on its own, they have reverse gear and are long so netting is very difficult, they are light and thin for their size so gaffing is hard and definitely out if your planning on releasing the fish, so this is where it gets interesting, I go for the grab behind the head, just like snake handling, it's not that hard but you need to be committed and don't forget they swim backwards, good luck with that one ; ).
Lastly it should be noted that all the above techniques will take good Tailor at this time of year (and often the bigger ones), I've also taken Jacks, Mulloway, Bream, Cod etc with these techniques and they're not complicated or fancy, great rigs for the novice who'd like a shot at some decent fish.
Giant Trevally or GT's are the second most common trevally species in the Seaway but are definitely the most sought after and one of the most hardest fighting of the trevally species. They can be caught all year round though they are much more common from January to June. They will feed at all water levels depending on thier mood on the day, if there is lots of bait around they will feed on surface. January through to May sees the larger fish holding in the seaway in big numbers and once an active school is found some excellent fishing can result.
Active vs Non Active
Active Giant Trevally are those hunting food, they do this for only a couple of hours a day, usually at dawn or dusk but if there is lots of bait they will feed according to the tides with the second half of the run in tide being the most consistent time. Non Active fish are those schooled up and not feeding, usually in The Canyon, over The Pipeline or in the North Wall Deep Hole. Non active fish usually do not eat anything though you might be able to tempt the odd fish with a finesse plastic or a livebait.
Giant Trevally feed in a number of ways, when they are chasing baitfish on the surface one GT will take a leading position, with others trailing behind it. Several individuals will attack the prey school, striking and stunning the prey, with the leading fish generally being more successful. Some fish act individually and opportunistically within the school if one of the baitfish becomes isolated, the main advantage of schooling is the ability to further break up and isolate baitfish schools.
Giant trevally can turn up anywhere at anytime but there a few locations that hold them consistently.
The North Wall
GT's can be found all around the north wall, stick baits, metals, plastics and vibs are the lures of choice depending on where they are holding at the time. During a run-in tide work the edges with stickbaits or metals, and prospecting the current lines with metals can also work. Casting a vib or a metal onto the flats on the northern side and bringing back over the dropoff can be an excellent technique if theres a bit of swell running. During a runout, fish the runway and the deep hole with vibs and plastics. At night on a runout tide GT's will often sit on the bottom in a large flat school approximately 100m out in front of the north wall tip in 9 metres of water. These fish can be tempted by very slow rolling plastics through the school. Surface feeding fish are rare around the North Wall but occasionally schools will pop up if a school of baitfish comes through, just keep an eye out for any birds flying around. Schools of Giant trevally can also hold further out along the dropoff than most fish, 30-50m away from the wall is a good start. If you see a school on the sounder try dropping a 30gram Twistie and slow rolling it back up to the boat. If they are hungry they will have a go.
The South Wall
The south wall fishes best for GT's when there is a bit of swell running, unfortunately its also very difficult to fish from a boat and get your lure in the zone because of the way the swell hits the wall. Metals cast from a safe distance can yield some good fish but you need long distance casting gear for that. You can fish along the walls with vibs and plastics, just bump them along the bottom with an occasional twitch. During a runout tide when there is no swell its worth dropping a lure down on the current line leading out from the wall as sometimes schools hold in that area.
The pipeline can hold massive schools of Giant Trevally but it can be a tough place to fish for them. Occasionally at the top of a run-in tide they will bust the surface in huge numbers and getting your lure in there guarantees a fish. You can also try dropping metals or vibs down next to the pipeline and retrieving them quickly back to the surface. Plastics dropped down next to the pipeline also work well if they are schooled up and feeding.
Wavebreak Island & The Canyon
The north wavebreak wall holds a few GT's and its worth a cast along the current lines with metals and vibs and along the walls with plastics. The Canyon is a deep trench that runs east from the end of the wall, schools of Giant Trevally will often hold along the edges of the canyon and in the canyon itself. You can troll along or over this area or drop plastics down into the school and poppers cast around can often bring a fish up from the bottom.
Giant trevally are a reasonably common catch on livebaits. Any livies will work but pike, slimey mackerel and yellowtail are my preferred baits. A 45cm GT will go for a 35cm pike so they are not afraid of a big bait. The runway, the dropoff and the pipeline are the best spots for livebaiting GT's. With the Pipeline, drift the livebait approximately 6 metres down, Giant Trevally will dart up from their holding position on the pipe to grab it as it drifts past. Just try and make sure your bait is near the bottom.
Giant Trevally Movements
Giant Trevally have specific movement patterns within the seaway area. While there are still a few unknown area's where they disappear to for a few days we have mapped out a fairly decent range of movements for them. The image below represents what we know about them so far.
Bigeye Trevally are the most common trevally species in the Seaway. They can be caught all year round though they are much more common in the summer months. They will feed quite willingly on the surface depending on the amount of bait around. December sees the larger fish holding in the seaway in big numbers and they will feed on the surface at first light during a run in tide. Just look for the birds.
Bigeye trevally can turn up anywhere at anytime but there a few locations that hold them consistently.
The North Wall
Bigeyes can be caught around the entirety of the north wall, poppers, metals, shallow minnows, vibs all work here. During a runin tide work the edges with poppers or minnows, and prospecting the current lines with metals also works well. During a runout, the point and the flats still hold a few. Surface feeding fish are common around the north wall, with schools of smaller fish popping up from time to time as well as occasional bustups by larger fish, getting a lure in there within 15 seconds or so almost guarantees a fish.
The South Wall
Not as consistent as the north wall but still worth a try around the southern side in the bay, the point and along the walls with poppers, metals and vibs. Surface feeding schools can pop up anywhere but are more common from the pipeline up to about halfway towards the point. Look for schools feeding just offshore after first light.
The pipeline can hold massive schools of Bigeye Trevally but these fish usually only feed during dawn and dusk, its almost impossible to catch these fish during the day. At dawn or dusk they move out and hunt schools of baitfish on incoming tides. You have to keep an eye out for these fish as they bust the surface for only 30 seconds to a minute at a time, speed is essential as you have to get your lure in there while they are still feeding. If no schools are visible you can also try dropping metals or vibs down next to the pipeline and retrieving them quickly back to the surface.
Wavebreak has 2 points of interest for bigeyes, The north wall and the flats. While not a consistent producer its always worth a look if no other spots are producing. The north wavebreak wall holds a few transient fish and its worth a cast along the current lines with metals and around the walls with poppers. Keep an eye out for surface feeding fish and cast at them with metals or small poppers. The flats hold a few bigeyes at night and early morning, either cast to surface feeding schools with metals or prospect with poppers while its dark.
Bigeye trevally will take most lures, but metals like the 20gram twistie and 40gram raider will take most fish. They will also quite happily take poppers such as the Tackle House feed popper 100, the 90mm Skitter Pop or the zipbaits ZBL popper. Minnows account for their fair share as well such as the Rapala X-Rap and megabass vision 110. Vibs such as the Zipvib 80 and Eclipse heavy slight 90 also work well when dropped down to the bottom around current lines. Plastics work as well but are not as consistent.
The Seaway produces many mulloway each year and 2010 has seen more caught than ever before. However 99% of these are undersize from 60-70cm. With the new Queensland size limit of 75cm this means you need to target the big ones if you want to take one home for the table. This article will go into detail not only how to catch them on lures but also how to target the bigger fish, it includes information on both lure fishing and bait fishing.
Because of the unique structure of the seaway and the fact that there are always eddies regardless of tidal flow, the mulloway in the seaway prefer to feed when there is a bit of run in the water as it brings bait to them without much effort. Mulloway congregate in eddies close to current lines, these change according to the tide so pay attention to what the waters doing.
The Pipeline also yields quite a few fish, but because it is the most exposed to current tends to do so around the ends of the tides as they begin to slow.
Targeting the Big Fish
If you want to catch the big fish consistently then you need to target them with big livebaits, and not just any livebaits, 40cm+ Pike, Tailor or mullet. Herring, Slimies or yellowtail and lures will generally only catch school size fish with the very occasional larger fish. Catching quality livies can often be harder than catching the mulloway itself. Timing is also important, big mulloway are generally only caught at dusk or dawn or during the night, though tidal changes during the day can yeild a good fish occasionally. You can use a standard running sinker rig but these tend to get stuck on the bottom, I use a custom rig which enables me to fish a livie within a metre of the bottom at all times. It consists of a standard 2 hook rig(Gamakatsu 7/0) on a metre long 50lb trace this is tied to a swivel then I place a 5mm bead on the upside of the swivel then its tied to a 5 m long shock leader of 40lb then tied onto 50lb braid. Next part is a sinker(4 oz) on a 1.5m long trace of 12lb mono tied to a clip. This clip is then attached above the bead. The sinker is sacrificial and if it gets stuck allows you to easily bust off. Sounds complicated but it works and works well and enables you to keep your bait within a metre of the bottom at all times.
Lure Fishing Mulloway in the Seaway
Lure fishing for mulloway in the seaway is really comes down to only 2 lure types, Softplastics and Vibration Lures/Blades. Soft plastics are by far the most popular, technique is simple drop it to the bottom, jig it up, give it a few flicks rinse and repeat ad nauseum. The Berkeley Jerk shads in 5 & 7 inch size are the most used but others like big curl tails also work. My favourite method is vibration lures with the Zipbaits Vib 90-35g being my top lure. Using vibration lures in the seaway requires alot of concentration as the likelyhood of getting stuck on the bottom is high, and if you are not close to the bottom you won't catch anything. Drop it to the bottom, then lift it up about a metre, then rip it up quick with 3 or 4 jigs then drop it back to the bottom, lift it up about a metre then just let it sit there for 3 seconds or so. Due to the lifelike appearance of these lures its amazing how many fish will hit them while they are just sitting there. You can also try just little jigs moving it up about 30cm or so at a time.
Thats pretty much it, Mulloway are not hard to catch once you figure them out. They are not the greatest sportfish in the world either but they are a beautiful fish with quite a mystique about them.
Tailor are the most frequently caught fish in the Gold Coast Seaway, ranging from 20cm tiddlers to 80cm+ Greenbacks. The average size is typical chopper size around 40cm. This article will go into the best locations, tides, seasonal changes, successful lures and techniques that I've used over the years.
To start with lets talk seasonal changes.
There are only 2 seasons to Tailor fishing in the Seaway, theres the summer season and the winter season. Tailor's behaviour differs in these 2 seasons which is why I separate the 2. During the summer season which starts in October and goes through to March, Tailor more commonly feed close to the surface and will form large surface feeding schools, depending on the amount of bait around. You will quite often find them close to the rocks less than 1 metre under the surface. Summer time is popper time and you'll consistently catch your biggest fish on poppers. The Flats, The Face, The Edge and Rock X are the best spots during the Summer Season.
The Winter Season starts in April and goes through til August. During winter Tailor more commonly hold closer to the bottom in deeper water and rarely feed on the surface. During this time Vibs and plastics are the best lure to get them though you will still catch a few on metal slices. They rarely hit poppers or shallow running minnows. The Runway holds the most tailor during the winter season but you can still catch a few fish on The Flats and around the entire front of the north wall.
Secondly lets talk tides.
My preferred tide for tailor is a run-in tide and theres a few reasons for this. Firstly the water is cleaner which when you are lure fishing makes a difference. Secondly, on days when there is a big swell running it calms the front of the seaway making it possible to fish most areas safely. Lastly tailor seem to prefer it, many times on days when I have fished the bottom of the runout and caught no fish, as soon as the tide has changed to a run-in the fish have switched on and began to feed aggressively. Only a couple of times has it been the other way around.
Locations and techniques.
The North Wall produces more tailor than any other location in the seaway so I'll go into detail about certain areas there before covering the rest of the seaway. Before continuing please see The North Wall up Close and Personal
While tailor can be caught around the whole north wall area there are a few spots that consistently yield fish, the first of which is 'The Face' . This area only exists on an incoming tide and tailor love to sit just out of the current line and grab bait that swims by with the current. Tailor can sit anywhere from 1m under the surface right down to the bottom which is around 13m. Metal slices work the best with 20gram twisties and 40gram raiders being my most favoured. Cast your metal slice just beyond the current line and to get the fish that are sitting more than a couple of metres down a countdown is required, I usually start at 4 seconds and then go to 6, then 10, but no more than 15 seconds otherwise you'll get stuck on the bottom. Knowing what depth the fish are sitting at is important as it enables you to get to the right depth everytime. Vibs such as the Zipbaits Vib 80-25g or the Eclipse Heavy Slight 90 work well for the tailor sitting close to the bottom, they can also be used with the cast and countdown technique.
Is primarily a shallow minnow and popper zone but slugs can also be used with a countdown of no more than 6 seconds. Plastics can be used if you are feeling reckless and sometime yeild some nice fish. Sometimes you need to get real close, within 30cm of the rock. Many of the strikes come within 1m of this rock.
Located on the northern side of the north wall The Flats consistently has tailor in residence, but usually only at first light. Any techniques work here, but shallow minnows and poppers are my favourite during the summer months. During winter when the fish are holding a bit deeper, vibs such as the Zipbaits vib 90-35g work well.
The South Wall.
Due to the high amount of landbased anglers the south wall can be a tricky area to fish. The best spots for tailor are the bay to the south, sometimes schools will hold in this area and a metal slice sunk to the bottom then retrieved back to the boat quickly will get results. Due to the southerly orientation of this area, it is fishable in only the best conditions as any swell over 1m creates large and dangerous swells. Around the front of the south wall in the wash zone is always worth a cast with metal slices or poppers.
Wavebreak Island can be broken up into 2 sections, the flats and the north wall. The north wall of Wavebreak island yields a few quality tailor mainly on metal slices or poppers cast and retrieved through the tidal flow at the very tip of the wall. Poppers can be cast right in close to the wall in the small eddy there and hits usually come just as it enters the current zone. The flats usually only yeild tailor at night and poppers are the best for this area, sometimes bait schools can gather here and the tailor hunt them. Worth a cast if you are filling in time waiting for the sun to rise.
The rest of the seaway.
During the summer months on a run-in tide always keep an eye out for birds signalling a school of tailor feeding on the surface. These schools go up and down very quickly and can pop up anywhere so you need to be on the ball to get a lure in there quick. Sometimes the fish in these surface feeding schools can be quite large up to 55cm. Best lure for this is the 20gram twistie which perfectly matches the frogmouth pilchards the Tailor are feeding on.
While any lure will catch tailor while they are in the mood I do have a few favourites I prefer to use. My top 5 tailor lures are as follows :
Halco 20gram twistie - During the summer run of fish when they are feeding on frogmouth pilchards this lure is an exact profile match, mainly used for prospecting and surface feeding schools.
Megabass Vision 110 in SeguroIwashi Stardust is my top lure for prospecting the edges and places like The Graveyard, and Rock X. Will outfish any other lure when a school of tailor can be found sitting shallow close to the rocks.
Zipbaits Vib 90-35g in Hologram Iwashi is the top lure for winter tailor or when they are sitting deep. Useful on The Flats, The Face, The Eddy and The Runway. Can be Jigged or cast and retrieved, tailor seem to prefer it with a fast erratic retrieve.
Tackle House Contact Feed popper 120 in Sardine Slit HG- This lure is only new but its success so far on winter tailor(which are very hard to get on poppers) has been exceptional, can be used anywhere but Rock X, The Graveyard, The Edge and The Flats are the best place for poppers. I can't wait to try it out on the summer run of big Tailor.
Spanyid 65 gram Raider - For when you need distance or just need a fast reaction lure the 65gram raider is the one to use. Useful on The Flats, The Face and with long casts right along the front of the north wall. Can also be sunk down deep with a countdown technique, keep it under 10 seconds though.