The north wall of the Seaway has a wide variety of environments well suited for fish habitat. It also has a large number of pelagic fish visiting on the way past and can hold large amounts of bait. This article will go into detail all the areas that make up the north wall and how fish feed within them.
Some only exist during a certain tide stage. The north wall is generally only fishable in S-SE winds up to 15 knots, any stronger than that and you get pushed into the wall too quick, its fishable in any strength northerlies but these create alot of dirty sandy water. Fish can still be caught in such dirty water but its not ideal.
Firstly lets cover the names of all the zones, these are names I've given them to make it easier.
The Flats are the area north of the north Wall between the beach and the eastern most tip. It is a shallow area mainly around 3 metres dropping off to 10 metres as you get alongside the end of the wall. This dropoff zone holds fish occasionally and is where you will find most of the pelagic species such as Bonito, Mackerel Tuna, School and Frigate Mackerel. It also has Tailor , Bigeye Trevally, Giant Trevally, Longnosed Trevally, Yellowtail Kingfish and very occasionally Amberjack. The Flats themselves usually only hold fish during first light but this can depend on water clarity, the clearer the water the less likely fish will feed on the flats once the sun is up. Sometimes schools of fish will hold just past the dropoff and intercept bait as it comes off the flats on a falling tide.
The Graveyard is a shallow section of rocks located the the north eastern end of the north wall. It is so named because a slight misjudgement in sink time of any sinking lure will have it stuck firmly on the rocks below, I have lost more lures to this section than any other in the seaway hence the name. As to its fishing potential, because of its rocky nature it can hold a wide variety of fish but mainly Tailor and Bigeye Trevally. It is one of the few spots that has a decent wash area next to the wall in most conditions. Sometimes you will have to cast right up to the rocks(within 50cm), as the fish hold under this wash area and wont hit a lure that doesn't come close.
Rock X or Diamond Rock
This area resides just to the south of The Graveyard still right on the end of the north wall, so named because of a particular rock that sits like a diamond ^ and can be seen in all but the highest of tides. This rock provides a casting point of reference when working the edges of the wall. This spot yields Tailor, GT's, Bigeye Trevally and Yellowtail Kingfish occasionally. Fishable in both run-in and run-out tides. Poppers, metals, minnows, plastics and vibs all work here.
The Line (Tidal)
The Line only exists on a runout tide, if you take a line that runs straight along the wall and passes through Rock X then offshore this shows the edge of the current line on a runout tide. Many fish will hang right on the edge of this line darting in and out of the current to grab prey as they drift past. Depths range from about 5 metres at the base of Rock X graduating to 15 metres. Bottom is mainly sand with scattered rocks. Plastics and vibs work well here.
The Dropoff starts along The Line at around 10 metres then drops off sharply within 20-30m to a depth of 20 metres, many fish hunt and school all along the dropoff during all tides. It can yeild anything but holds large numbers of Mulloway, Tailor, Bream, Sharks and all species of trevally. Bottom is mainly sand and small rocks though there are a couple of big rocks ready to grab your lures or baits. Plastics or vibs are the tools of choice for the dropoff.
The Face (Tidal)
The Face only exists during a runin tide and is more prevalent during stronger tidal flows. As the tide moves along the front of the north wall it curves around as it enters the seaway creating an eddy, the eastern most edge of the eddy where the current passes is The Face. You can sit in the eddy and cast right along the face, or drop your lures right down the edge of it. Many fish hold in this area and grab prey as they drift pass in the current. Metals and vibs are the best lures for this area.
The Eddy (Tidal)
As the tide moves along the front of the north wall it curves around as it enters the seaway creating The Eddy. This area is made up with lots of rocks and sand patches and holds most species especially Mulloway, Trevally and Tailor. The best lures for this area is vibs, metals, minnows and plastics. Poppers do account for some big tailor in this area as well.
The Edge covers the edge of the rockwall out to 10 metres from the eastern most tip down to the beacon. This area can hold large numbers of tailor and trevally particularly during the summer months. Due to the high amount of rocks in this area, shallow diving minnows and poppers are the tools of choice, other lures are used at your own peril. Tailor schools do hold in close to the rocks and will usually be in a small area, once found they can give you some action packed fishing.
This area starts level with the front of the wall approximately 20 metres out and goes down as far as the tree line. Depths are around 12-18 metres, bottom is mainly sand with scattered small rocks. Lures of choice are vibs and plastics. Can yield Mulloway, Tailor, Estuary Cod, Bream and Trevally. Very popular area for livebaiters.
The Rest covers the north eastern section of the north wall zone, no significant structure to speak of the bottom is all sand. It is mainly an area where pelagic fish like bonito or mackerel may hold up for a short time. Depth starts at 5m and goes down to about 15 metres. Its always a good idea to sound over this area incase schools of fish are holding here. Surface feeding can occur here at any time so it pays to keep an eye on it. Occasional surprises like yellowtail kingfish and salmon may also turn up.
Click the picture below for a high resolution map showing all the zones.
Tide : Low tide at 02.30am, High tide at 08.35am (0.11 - 1.19)
Time Fished: 03.00am to 07.00am
Moon Phase: Day of the full moon.
Temps 14-16 Degrees C
No Swell. No surface feeding anywhere. Dirty green water
On the water at 3am we moved to spot 1, first cast with a megabass vision 110 I was hit hard but unfortunately the hooks pulled after about 30 seconds. Dad using a Daiwa Silver Creek hooked a nice tailor right next to the boat which gave him a good fight it went 52cm. After that it all went quiet so we moved on to spot 2. No surface activity here so we went straight to plastics, wasn't long before I hooked a small fish which turned out to be a 25cm bream. As the tide was still running out I decided to head down to the seaway and see what was around, we found some fish fairly quick and first drop with a 3" gulp smelt on 1/4oz head I hooked a good fish which turned out to be a 60cm Mulloway. By the time I had dealt with that fish the tide had begin to run-in and the fish had moved. Dawn was also upon us so we moved to the north wall, wasn't long before Dad landed a bigeye trevally of around 35cm on a Zipbaits Vib 80-25g. But that was it we looked in a number of other places but all was quiet so we gave it away. Another tough trip but a couple of reasonable fish landed so it wasn't too bad.
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.
Tide : Low tide at 09.05am, High tide at 03.07am (0.30 -0.92)
Time Fished: 01.00am to 07.00am
Moon Phase: 4 days before new moon.
Temps 10-14 Degrees C
Neglible tidal flow. High Phosphorescence levels in the Seaway. Low visbility levels.
Today I wanted to spend some time looking at some new locations so I got on the water a bit earlier than usual and moved to spot 1. As soon as I got there I saw a couple of active fish so I picked the biggest one and cast to it with a ZBL popper. Even though it was a bad cast and fell about 5 metres short, he was onto it after the first pop and he smashed it hard. It was a dogged fight close to structure which had me thinking jack, but it turned out to be a 53cm Tailor, pretty good fish for the first cast. Next fish I cast at looked smaller and he had quite a few goes at it but he did not hookup. I persisted for a little while with a few other lures but caught nothing else, there was a bit of phosphorescence in the water but it wasn't too bad. I moved onto spot 2, this location had lots of small tailor feeding on the surface and they were quite happy to hit the popper but hookups were rare, I did land 2 more tailor around the 40cm mark.
By this time it was the top of the tide and I moved into the seaway to scout some locations during the runout tide. The phosphorescence levels in the seaway were insane, my line was clearly visible at all times, almost like a vivid neon arrow saying 'This fish has strings attached so dont eat it' I persisted anyway. I tried a number of techniques and found some great fish holding locations with plenty of fish on the sounder but nothing was interested in my vivid neon lightshow.
Dawn arrived and I switched to poppers and soon caught one bigeye around 35cm, had a few more hits which didn't hookup. Not much else around so I moved offshore and had a look at a couple of inshore locations. First up was the narrowneck arti, but there was nothing there. I moved on to the scottish prince. There were tons of fish on the sounder there but all I could tempt was one small tailor. By this time it was 7am and I had run out of time so I called it a day. One of my worst trips for a while but with a small tide and high phosphorescence levels its not really surprising. Was a nice day out there though.
Some new lures on the market now with decent seaway fishing potential, check out the lures below I've added videos where possible.
Zipbaits System Minnow 15F - 150mm, Floating, 26.5gms
A big floating shallow diving minnow, one of the closest pilchard imitations I've seen. Looks like it would be ideal for wash fishing especially at the top of the tide when you can get right into the rocks. Ideal for The Edge prospecting. Hardware is good with #3 Owner St46 as standard. An expensive minnow though at around $30-35.00. I'll be getting one for testing during the summer months. Some nice colours in the range though the Hologram Sardine(pictured) is the standout.
A sinking pencil lure, has an excellent flash and a nice wobble on the sink. Should work well on the flats and working the Face with a decent sink time. No real standout colours though, I'd probably go with the Sahari Joker colour(pictured). The hardware looks good with #3 ST 46 as standard. Price is around $30-35.00.
A medium sinking diver with a good wobbling action, would be a good lure for the flats and prospecting around the front of the walls. #6 ST46 are standard, these are a bit light for seaway fish, probably better off upgrading to #6 ST56. Price is around $25.00. A nice range of colours with Sand Borer(pictured) my favourite.
A sinking pencil designed for long casts during strong winds, very streamlined and has a nice wobble on the sink with a slalom S action on a standard retrieve. Standard hooks may be a bit light being only #6 ST46, might need to upgrade those to ST56. Superb colour range with many nice colours including a nice garfish imitation 'Ohnago'(pictured). Price is around $25.00.