The Recreational Boating Safety Improvements Report has been released and its worth reading the whole thing, but the main issue for Seaway Fishers is that PFD's will be required to be worn when crossing the entrance of the seaway. I'll try and find out exactly where you are required to wear them. The changes will occur on 1st January 2012.
We moved into the seaway at 1.00am, conditions were challenging with a lumpy swell and a annoying southerly wind. We spent the next 2 hours checking out all likely locations with a variety of methods, minnows, plastics deep and shallow, poppers but didn't even get a hit. It was frustrating because according to the sounder the fish were stacked in there from top to bottom. We waited until the tide had turned then returned to one of the spots we tried earlier, first cast and I hooked a good Tarpon that jumped off. Then nothing...... we moved to a new spot tried there for 15 minutes for zip then moved back to where I hooked the Tarpon. Dad hooked the next Tarpon and landed a good fish around 60cm and then nothing... We moved again and tried another spot for another 20 minutes or so then returned back to where we got the fish earlier. Thankfully this time, they were feeding properly and over the next 2 hours hooked around 30 Tarpon and landed 10, best fish went 65cm, average was around 60cm. The Tarpon weren't hitting on every cast but consistently enough to make for some top fishing. We were both using a clip on 30cm 50lb leader and didn't need to change the leader once so I'm going to stick with that rig for Tarpon fishing from now on, beats having to retie leaders every 2 or 3 fish due to wear.
Anyway they went off the bite when dawn arrived so we fished around the north wall for a while, had a few hits on minnows and plastics but nothing that stayed attached. We moved down to the pipeline and spotted some birds diving on feeding fish. First cast with a pearl slider and I hooked up on a nice GT around 50cm but the fish didn't resurface after I had landed him. We moved and found some small tailor feeding on surface, got one of those and missed a couple of others. Back to the pipeline and we found some more fish feeding, they were moving fast though and soon disappeared. We moved back down towards wavebreak and found some more fish feeding and they looked big, first cast with a gillies 25gram baitfish and we both got smashed, the hooks pulled on both fish shortly after though. Next cast my lure made it almost back to the boat before it was smashed by a big yellowtail kingfish right on the surface no more than 3 metres away from the boat, he took of at a million miles an hour but the hooks pulled again shortly after..aaagh!@!!!!
They disappeared for a while then we saw some more feeding fish in close to south straddie so we went over there and chased them for a while unsuccessfully and it wasn't until I moved in front of the school and they popped up about 5 metres away that I finally hooked a fish on a pearl slider on a 1/2 oz jighead. It screamed off in one almighty run that soon had me looking at the bottom half of the spool so I had no choice but to chase it, about 15 minutes later I had a big mack tuna circling the boat. That fish went 85cm and on 6lb braid was one hell of a fight. Very unusual to see big Mack tuna in the seaway, especially in the middle of winter. I've caught smaller ones around the kilo mark in there but nothing anywhere near that big. Anyway by the time that fish had been landed the tide had turned and there was no more action. We spent a bit of time looking for salmon but saw nothing so we called it a day at 9am.
So a pretty good morning's fishing, with lots of surface feeding by big predators. Should fish just as well tomorrow if not better with an extended run in time.
When fishing the seaway one important thing to remember is that the fish have alot of room to play with. The average depth in the seaway would be around 10 metres and there's alot of places they can choose to sit, many of which are not neccesarily where you might think. Current lines are classic fish holding locations and there's a few in the seaway but alot of the time the fish just seem to pick a random spot somewhere along the walls and will sit there at a certain depth in a tight school. Tarpon, Trevally, Yellowtail Kingfish and Tailor are the main species that do this. Lures cast into this holding area will pick up fish one after the other but anywhere outside of this area will yield nothing. See the sounder picture to the right, which was a school of Tarpon sitting between 4 & 7 metres down over a rocky bottom. Using 1/2 oz jigheads with a sink time of 7-10 seconds, every cast was a fish. Plastics on light jigheads that only ran to 2-3 metres were ignored, a perfect example of finding the right depth.
So how do you go about finding these fish. Well the countdown technique and a bit of time is all you need. Mainly used with plastics and jigheads of various weights, you can also use it with metals fishing along current lines. We'll concentrate on plastics usage as its a bit more technical.
See the diagram down below, this shows 3 schools of fish. One sitting in the top couple of metres, one sitting midwater, the other holding close to the bottom. Each school requires a different sink time to fish effectively.
First thing you have to do is pick your starting weight. I usually start with 3/8 oz and go from there. Its a good weight because you can fish it shallow and with extra sink time can be fished in 10m or more. If the fish are hanging lower than 5m though you are better off going with 1/2 oz weights to reduce sink times. If the fish are hanging in a current zone you'll often have very little time(10 seconds or less) to get the lure to the right depth before the current moves it out of the strike zone which is why going heavier is more important than presenting a more natural lure. Plastic size is kept small to imitate the average size of baitfish which is around 7cm. Fish Arrow Flash J 3", Ecogear Grass Minnow M, Gulp 3" Minn0ws, Squidgy 65mm Slick Rigs(roughly 3/8oz) and Slider bass grubs are ideal plastics for this type of work but anything around that size should work ok.
Ideally you want to cast in as close to the rocks as you dare, a little knowledge of each spot is good because there may be rocky ledges just under the water which you want to avoid. 3/8oz jigheads will sink at a rate of roughly 50cm per second so keep that in mind if you want to stay off the bottom. Your first cast into any likely location should be retrieved almost instantly, it will track roughly 1 metre under the surface of the water. You don't need to do any fancy jigging on the retrieve either, just a slow wind back to the boat is fine. Next cast give it 3 seconds of sink time then wind it in slow. Next cast 5 seconds, then 7 seconds, then 10 seconds then go 15 seconds if you are fishing in a deeper area. Pay attention to whats happening, if you get a hit that doesn't hookup then do the retrieve again with the same sink time. Sometimes the fish need to be stirred up a bit and once the first fish is hooked, it creates alot of competition in the school and subsequent casts should get hit instantly. Once you figure out the depth they are holding at you can change the jighead to suit, for fish close to the surface go up to a 1/4oz head, for fish that are sitting more than 5 metres down go to a 1/2 oz jighead. Between 2 and 5 metres 3/8oz is the perfect size.
This technique can be dynamite if you find the school, but its certainly not a guaranteed technique if the fish are shut down, and if they are shut down then you wont be catching them on anything else anyway. Be prepared to get stuck on the rocks occasionally, the closer to the rocks you get the more likely you will find the school. Ideally all your casts should be landing no more than 2 metres away from the rock wall and you should be aiming for the spot where the sand meets the edge of the rocks, see the second picture below; the red line is where you need to be aiming for. That section is just an example, you can use the technique along the entire south and north walls. You want to space out your locations as well with about 5 metres between each casting spot.
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.
Launched at around 1.30am and moved into the broadwater, first spot we looked at had a couple of decent sized fish occasionally chasing bait. Casts into the feeding areas with vision 110's pulled 2 tailor 1 going 54cm the other going 59cm. It went quiet after that so we fished chart/pearl gulp plastics on the bottom for a while getting 1 big pike and 1 jewie around 45cm.
We moved into the seaway to look for Tarpon. Conditions were not good and I really didn't expect to catch any, we gave it a good go anyway but didn't turn a scale. We headed offshore to look at the inshore bait reefs, the wind was up around 15knots from the west so it was a bit bumpy. We didn't fish it for long but picked up 1 small tailor while we where there.
Moved back into the seaway and dropped some chart/pearl gulps to the bottom on 1/2oz jigheads, wasn't long before we found a school of small jewies and pulled 5 in quick succession all around the 55-60cm mark. Dawn was upon us and we spent some time casting the edges with minnows , had a few hits but nothing connected. Once the tide started to come in we got 1 GT around 40cm on a pearl grass minnow.
We moved back towards the ramp and found some salmon occasionally feeding close to shore, despite our best efforts we couldn't hook one so we went back to the ramp. Of course as soon as I'd reversed the trailer back down to pick up the boat the salmon erupted in a feeding frenzy right next to the ramp. We both grabbed rods and got hookups straight away but ended up losing both fish. We hurriedly retrieved the boat and went back to the jetty ramp ready for some action. Over the next half hour we hooked 5 more salmon landing 2 both around 70cm. Salmon are a great fighting fish. Kudos to the guys already on the jetty, polite and considerate.
Moved into the seaway at 3.30am(sleep in!), plan was to see if some Tarpon were around, if not move back into the broadwater. I picked a likely location and set to it. First cast..nothing. Second cast.. a bump..interesting. Third cast..a hookup and a good fight with the fish jumping off next to the boat. Now that I knew they were around, I added a 30cm 50lb clip on leader and changed plastic to a squidgy slick rig 65mm. Next cast, hookup and Tarpon landed in the high 50's. Over the next half hour I landed 4 more Tarpon and jumped off at least twice that many. Now that I had a hungry school of Tarpon that was hitting plastics on every cast I wanted to see if I could tempt them into taking a different type of lure. Plan was to use a certain type of lure for 5 casts then if no hits or fish to change back to the plastic, catch a fish then change to a different type of lure and so on. I tried minnows(rapala XRD 10, & XR8, manns stretch 5), vibs (zipbaits vib80-25g & vib 58-13g), slugs (gillies baitfish 15 & 25g) & poppers( rapala skitter pop 90 & zipbaits ZBL popper). The only lure out of that lot that even got a hit was the gillies 15g baitfish and that was only one hit, no hookups. Everytime I changed back to the plastic, on the first cast I got a hookup and a jumpoff or a fish landed. Just goes to show how fussy they can be, if you don't have what they want you will struggle. I was also testing a new plastic today, a slider in the pearl colour, which the Tarpon really liked but they only lasted one or two fish.
Anyway dawn arrived and the Tarpon went off the bite, I moved to the north wall flats and threw around a vision 110 and picked up a tailor around 40cm, had a few more hits but no hookups. Drifting around the end of the wall I had multiple hits on the vision and a few short lived hookups. I switched to a pearl slider on a 3/8th oz jighead and from then on it was a hookup every cast on small Giant Trevally around 35-40cm, they were very aggressive smashing the plastic while it was still sinking and over the next hour or so managed 13 GT's and 2 Bigeyes all around the same size. Not monsters but fun nonetheless. As the sun rose they went off the bite so I went for a quick look in the broadwater and then went offshore looking for tuna. Found one school and chased them for a while but couldn't tempt them. One more look around the broadwater and back to the ramp at around 9am.
Water is very clear at the moment with around 7 metres of visability. Sliders worked well but they are quite fragile often lasting only 2 fish, I'll keep a packet or two though, the fish seem to like them.
Got to the seaway around 5:30am, tide was ripping on its way out, the low tide was around 9:30 so we were hoping for early surface action on sunrise even though it was absolutely freezing haha!!
The water was very clear and it didnt look like much bait was around either.
We headed up to the north wall and drifted along the face from about 3/4 up the wall to about 50m past it with a few hits (tail grabs) on the 7 inch gulps with no success , then I changed to a large grassminnow 119 colour for a run around the flats side of the north wall on south straddie but lost it on 12lb leader (my guesses a tailor).
After that two spear fisherman rocked up with ropes attached to them about 15m long to their surf ski's so they made the tip of the north wall unfishable. About 2 mins later one of them had a kingie that would have gone a metre long easily, was a bit gutted after that so went to the pipe and threw metals for no success.
Then came back to the north wall to find 5 spear fisherman, the guy with the kingie still out with a bag of trevs and something big and red in it as well dunno what it was tho looked very reefy tho but we ended up calling it a day around 9am.
Wasnt expecting much as it was freezing with bad tides but better to be out there than sitting at home I guess!!!
Wade graciously invited myself and Mick out for a fish last night I think more than anything to show off his new rig, although I'm not a fan of fishing in other peoples boats I was quite impressed with the rig as an allrounder, with a few minor mods which Wade is currently taking care of she will be a cracker.
Wade was also keen to get us into a couple of Bigeye but as we'd got there a bit early we went for a bit of a look around in some places we'd never been, didn't find much but I can say those little Duskys are still about in good numbers with Wade getting one first cast which makes him twice as good as me as it took me two, Wade was using a 3" hollowbelly and me a 3" slam minnow, meanwhile Mick I think was getting edgy as he was standing on the bow slug in hand and looking at a flock of birds to the south so we didn't stay long and set off for the birds. Spinning produced nothing so we set up for a troll with the usual Xraps and Mick was trying out a new Rapala clackin minnow, first fish was a bit of a surprise in the form of a Finney Scad (Madfish) then it was all Tailor, all legal fish but all went back.
Just after dark Wade decided to try his spot even though the tides were wrong, we did manage 1 good Bigeye each out of quite a few strikes for the loss of only 1 lure which just happened to be Micks new Clackin rap but if ya gonna use 6lb ya gonna loose lures (Wades words). Happy with that we set off to get some dinner at Marina mirage Maca's and a few panadole for my tooth ache then after a brief discussion headed of in search of a Hairtail, we only managed the one but it was a goodie though we didn't measure it. All was fairly quiet on the bait front up north so we headed back south for a troll, by the time we'd arrived back at the seaway which wasn't long as Wade has a fairly heavy foot the boys were starting to feel a bit chillie (30 odd knots into a souwester can do that ) so we did a couple of quick passes for 1 GT on a B25 Bomber and called it a day.
A most enjoyable trip with two like minded fisho's and I think all 3 of us learned something new which is always a bonus, and Wade don't forget to get ya inflatable serviced
Tide : BOM: Low tide at 04.43 am, High tide at 12.21am ( 0.24-1.53)
Time Fished: 1.00am to 09.00am
Moon Phase: 3 days after new moon.
Water Temp 17.7-18.9 Degrees C
No clouds, sunny. Clear water. White pilchard schools close to The Grand boat ramp & spit barges. No surface feeding while we were there, some salmon feeding between 8 & 8.30am.
We started off in the broadwater at 1.00am, I had one spot in mind, a fairly shallow area about 3-4m with good structure and usually holds alot of bait. Due to the shallow depth the fish usually hunt close to the surface so the lure of choice was a megabass vision 110, a shallow running twitching minnow. Second cast and I was on with a hard fighting fish with a few good runs. Turned out to be a 55cm Tailor, which set the scene for the next hour with another dozen or so tailor coming to the boat all high 40's low 50's so good quality fish. Moving around a bit we also managed a bigeye trev around 40cm and a GT at 35cm which was the first GT I've ever caught at night. We lost a few other fish and then as so often happens at this spot they went off the bite.
We moved into the seaway at around 3am and spent some time looking for Tarpon. The usual spots were vacant and it wasn't until I put one cast into a new spot that I hooked one which wore through the trace at the side of the boat. Now that I had a likely location, I just had to figure out how they wanted the lures presented, and the best weight combination. Some more casting with a couple of different setups and I hooked the next fish and I managed to land this one just as the trace snapped, it went 62cm. I had been using 20lb leader, but thats not sufficient for Tarpon as the previous 2 fish showed so I switched to a modular rig I wanted to test(basically a 30cm bit of 40lb mono with a swivel on one end and a clip on the other). With the weight and angles sorted we started hooking them on every cast and over the next couple of hours saw some of the most action packed Tarpon fishing I've ever experienced. Every cast was a hit, a hookup with a jumpoff or a Tarpon landed. Double hookups were common. The size of the fish was exceptional as well, only one fish landed was below 60cm, the rest between 60& 64cm. Some excellent fights too with a good mix of runners and jumpers, with some awesome runs mixed in with metre high aerial displays. Top fun. 14 Tarpon were landed, lost count of the number of hookups but it would have been well over 40. A number of different soft plastics were tried including Ecogear Grass minnow's, Squidgy Fish, Squidgy 65mm Slick Rigs and gulp minnows all worked well. They went off the bite just before the sun rose.
We spent some time luring the ends of the rock walls but only ended up with one small bigeye to show for it. Had a quick look around in the broadwater for any surface action but there was nothing there so we went out the seaway and headed north along south straddie just outside the shore break looking for tuna. We found a small school about 1k up and dad hooked and landed one around 60cm on a 25gram gillies after a good fight. We chased them around for another hour or so without luck before heading back in. Back at the ramp, apparently the salmon had showed up feeding on surface near the grand ramp about 30 minutes beforehand and had gone down about 10 minutes before we arrived. We waited for another half hour but they didn't resurface so we called it a day.
Oh Well pretty damn good day anyway without the salmon, plenty of fish landed with lots of action.
Hit the broadwater this morning on the hunt for some salmon had a look up the seaway but found the current to strong is about hour to high tide so move over to the north wall off straddie at the very end before the wall stop's
Fished with slimy mackeral as bait caught a few bream biggest whent 34cm soon after single birds started diving on the the bait fish though this should bring on the salmon well within five minutes my mates rod go of like a steam train hooked on to a salmon its jumping everywhere great to watch after ten minutes or so get him to the net first try got him high five's everywhere he whent 68cm on the brag mate caught him on 10lb line no leader and long shank hook that was only just hooked amazed it never came off.
Then went of for a troll to see if we could get some more on hardbodys but managed a good flattie to my mate rod again flattie fell to a red and white rapala.
Things went pretty much quiet by then so gave it away at 11am great day out.
Bit of a sleep in this morning with a 4.30am start, strong winds and big seas mean't that options were limited so it wasn't worth losing sleep over. Conditions weren't as bad as we expected when we got there with Southerly winds between 10 & 15knots and a SE swell around 1.5m . Started off looking for Tarpon and we found them but dawn was on us too quick and they shut down shortly after we found them, we lost 2 fish through jump offs. We fished around the end of the north wall with a variety of lures just on dawn for zip which was surprising as it looked quite good. Once we had a bit of light we moved off to try and find some salmon in the broadwater. We found some near the barges on the spit but they only stayed up for a couple of minutes before disappearing, all casts into them were ignored.
We moved up the broadwater and found some small queenies near marina mirage, we pulled a couple of those before moving on. We kept moving and looking for salmon but saw no more. At the top of the tide we went into the seaway and tried some big plastics near the bottom but they went unmolested. Called it a day at 10am.
Not many fish in the boat today but not entirely unexpected. Time spent looking for surface feeding fish is often unrewarded.