So you want to use lures to catch fish in the seaway and you keep trying but get nothing. Then this article is for you, I'll go through the best lures, the best techniques, best places and the best times for lure fishing the seaway and hopefully by the end of it you'll understand what it takes to consistently catch fish on lures, but first a little story....
When I first started fishing the seaway with lures back around 2000, I visited it for an hour or so on each trip after I was done fishing the broadwater however I couldn't catch a damn fish to save my life. I was convinced that there were no fish in there, that all the stories I had heard were mostly exaggerated. I was using lures that worked just fine in the broadwater and rivers but did not work in the seaway. But it looked very fishy so I decided to change my approach. Within a couple of trips I began to catch fish, tailor first, then bigeyes, then big jewies, then GT's. So what changed? I looked at the seaway like its own area with selected spots to try within that area, I fished it from first light until well after sunup, increased the size and changed the type of the lures, used my eyes and ears to find fish that were feeding. This is in essence why some people have trouble with catching fish on lures in the seaway, they are still treating it like just another spot, or an extension of the broadwater. The seaway is unique and requires its own approaches, you have to think of fish holding anywhere within the water column, not just the near the top or on the bottom.
Firstly lets talk time of day. For consistent success you need to be out of bed and on the water by first light. The vast majority of lure caught fish in the seaway are caught in the hour before sunup and the couple of hours after. There's a very good reason for that. Most bait fish have something in common: a darker back and a light coloured underside. The sea birds that hunt them from the air look down from above, and find it hard to distinguish the dark backs from the dark coloured water. The big fish that hunt them from below look up and find it hard to distinguish their silver or white bellies from the bright light above. It’s only at dawn and dusk, when the sun is at an acute angle to the water, that light reflects off the side of the bait fish, making hunting them easier. And dawn is usually better than dusk because the seas are calmer early in the morning. Sure there are times when the fish feed between 9am and 3pm, particularly after tidal changes but this is very random. For consistency with lures fish from first light til a couple of hours after sunup.
Okay, lets talk lures, successful lure fishing in the seaway means being a jack of all trades. While there are plenty of fisherman who only use metals casting at the wall or only fish plastics on the bottom, being able to swap between all methods and cover the entire water column not only increases your chances of finding the fish but when you do find the fish you can choose a method that will engage the school and excite the fish, that is key.
If I were to choose only 5 lures to fish the seaway it would be these. Now keep in mind I use more than these but if I was stuck these would be the lures I would choose, above all others. I have included a brief overview of their use as well.
(metal)30 Gram Twistie - Surface feeding schools, sinking down to suspended schools, jigging over bottom holding schools
(minnow)Flash Minnow 25 in Redhead - edge fishing, trolled shallow suspended fish
(Deep minnow) Bolt Omega in Green Chrome - edge fishing deeper, trolling deep suspended fish
(plastic)1/2oz jighead with pearl slider - Bottom bouncing, sinking down through current lines, edge fishing over deeper sections
(popper)Skitterbait Black Redhead - surface feeding fish, fishing over rocky shallows, edge fishing
Now some people may be surprised by that list.. what no 20 gram twistie??? no megabass vision 110??? no 7 inch jerkshad??? With those lures I listed, I can effectively fish at every level in the seaway, from the deepest 20 metre hole to the 30cm of water covering a rock shelf. Most of those lures have dual purposes(unlike something like a vision 110 which is pretty much restricted to edge fishing) and those lures will catch every size of fish, from a 20cm tailor to a metre long+ jewfish. When you are first starting out its best to keep things as simple as possible while still covering all options and all those lures are available in QLD tackle stores.
Decisions, decisions. Now you have your time of day and your lures where do you fish. There are 4 main lure fishing areas in the seaway, the ends of the walls, the Deep Hole, The Canyon and The Pipeline.
The Pipeline gets most of the press and is the most popular area and for good reason. It holds alot of fish most of the time and is the most consistent site for surface feeding but I would guess less than 1% of the fish that hold around the pipeline ever get caught. Mostly they are just resting and getting a clean. Fish packed this tight usually stop feeding after a few are caught as well. Lure wise you are pretty much restricted to bouncing a plastic around the pipe, casting a metal or popper at surface feeding fish or sinking a metal down deep, jigging it or cranking back at speed. Due to its simple structure and limited options the pipeline is a great place for beginners.
The ends of the walls(particularly the north wall) are less predictable, schools of fish come and go all the time even within 1 tidal cycle. In a way because of its randomness it is the ultimate challenge for any lure fisherman, that's probably the reason I like it so much. The variations on how to fish it are endless and depend on where the fish are holding. Are they feeding on surface, in close under the wash, suspended mid-water or sulking on the bottom? Are they right next to the rocks just under the surface, at the base of the rocks, sitting on the dropoff or 100m away over the sandy bottom? All of these places hold fish at certain times.
The Canyon is the deep hole at the end of the North Wavebreak rock wall. It has steep rocky dropoffs, areas of coffee rock bottom and as you get further north mainly sandy bottom. Schools of GT's and Kingfish will often sit in the deep hole and wait for baitfish to come through, then they will move out and push the bait to the surface. Bustups usually don't last long so it is critical to get there and get a cast in quick with a metal like a 20gram Twisty/15gram Gillies Baitfish or a popper/stickbait. You can also troll over the Canyon with a 4m+ diving minnow like the Bolt Omega which will sometimes pick up GT's. Plastics like the Pearl Slider or Squidgy Flickbait can be worked over the bottom on 1/8-3/8 oz jigheads(depending on the tidal flow) and will pickup quite a variety of species including Golden Trevally, Giant Trevally, Cod, Snapper and quite a few other species. The Canyon tends to be hit and miss but its always worth a look.
The key to the ends of the walls is experimentation and observation. I usually start off with a popper/stickbait and drift along the edges, all the while keeping one eye on the sounder and one eye and both ears open for any surface bust-ups or birds. If I don't get anything with a popper, I'll do the same with a minnow then I'll switch to a metal and work the same area and out a bit deeper, giving it some sink time around the current lines. If still no go I'll hit the bottom with a plastic. Using these 4 methods you can explore every layer in the water column. If you see some fish on the sounder try sinking the metal right down into them and jigging it or swap it for the plastic and bounce it through the school. If that doesn't work try a smaller or a larger profile lure. Trolling also works better around this area than anywhere else in the seaway, if you see fish on the sounder well away from the walls look at what depth they are sitting at and pick the lure that will run approximately 1-2 metre's above them. If they are sitting 4-6 metres down use a lure that dives down to 3 metres, 2-3 metres down use a lure that dives to 1 metre. Don't pick a lure that will plow straight through the school as this will spook them. Most predatory fish hunt by looking up and silhouetting their prey against the surface.
The last spot is the deep hole. due to its depth(15-20m)pretty much restricted in lure choice to the heavier end, the heavier metals and heavy jighead rigged plastic. Vibs are effective but too prone to getting stuck on the rocks. The 7 inch jerkshad on a 1oz head is very popular and does work just fine but I'm tending towards smaller plastics these days like the pearl slider as its more of an allrounder.
There are two plastic techniques I like using in the deep hole. One technique that is very effective is dropping a plastic to the bottom and deadsticking it. Deadsticking is dropping your plastic to the bottom and letting it sit there, no jigs or ups and downs, just hold on and wait for the bite. Most anglers seem to forget that there is nearly always swell in this area which moves the boat up and down and therefore the lure and is enough to keep your plastic moving seductively without any unnecessary rod work. Every 30 seconds or so open the bail arm and drop the plastic to the bottom and lift it back up half a metre to make sure its in the zone, this is important!!!!!!Don't just stick it in a rod holder!!!!!.
The other technique is a simple triple hop, drop your plastic to the bottom and then lift the rod tip 3 times in succession, then let it sink back down. During the triple hop your rod tip should go no higher than a metre by the third hop. While using this technique most strikes will come on the sink down so be ready for it. Don't work the lure so that it looks like a retarded monkey on 100 cups of coffee. Your plastic is supposed to look like an injured fish and injured fish don't do 2-3 metre leaps towards the surface, subtlety is important. While using a dropshot method some time ago I caught plenty of fish just letting the plastic sit there and jiggling the tip. There is a time and place for fast erratic movement but those are when you are dealing with lots of active competitive schooling fish.
With metals, you can drop them to the bottom, jig it in place or do some fast jigging, works better with schooling fish holding midwater than fish on the bottom.
So to finish off and keep it simple... Get on the water and be fishing in time for first light, Find where the fish are holding whether through experimentation, looking at your sounder or using your eyes and ears and use the right lure at the right depth.
Remember that this article is for beginners, there is tons of more advanced techniques which I will cover in other articles. Any questions.. ask them below.
Paid Memberships are now available through the membership options page, please read the page fully before deciding on a paid membership!! Paypal is accepted, as is bank deposit. Please allow at least 3 working days for your bank deposit to show in my account. There is also a new level, Platinum lifetime membership. Its not cheap at $500.00 but gives you lifetime access, 2 hardcover books(due june 2013) and a seaway tutorial trip.
The gold level 365 day membership(currently $50.00) will be going up in price to $100.00 at the start of April, the reason for that is to reward those who have stuck by and supported the site and not just use it as a fast track to good fish. I expect many users especially those who have never made a post or contributed in any way will leave the paid memberships until there are good fish around.
The first piece of new paid membership only content is going live on the 1st of March and it is titled : A beginners guide to successful lure fishing in the seaway. Mainly for people new to the seaway or struggling with consistent lure catches but even experienced lure fishos might learn a thing or two.
More articles that will be released over the coming months:
Shark Fishing the seaway
Spotlight on individual lures - slugs, minnows, poppers, plastics - techniques for each one
Predictability in fishing
Trolling the seaway(yes I'm still working on this one)
Bird Behaviour, what to look for, what to ignore.
Fishing the split shot rig
I'll also be releasing some broadwater and seaway maps, highlighting areas of interest and what to look for at each one.
Also on the 1st of March, the SeawayFishing records page will be going live, it is finished, I'll add more species as they come in. The minimum sizes are also set. Claims are to be made in the forum, link is on the records page.
Most of the site is finished, I'm just cleaning up some loose ends and finishing some sections, the logo and top section is still under development as well.
One more thing, those of you who post on the front page(eg. Kane, brett, gordo, mirrors)All front page reports must be limited to paid members only. If that doesn't appeal to you then you can still post a report in the forum where everyone can read it.
I realise there have been alot of changes in a short time but hopefully this will turn the site into a much better resource and that those of you who decide to become paid members will reap the benefits of those changes. You all know what this site is capable of, I will be adding heaps of stuff over the next few months as well as plenty of reports but its always good to hear reports from other fisherman whose techniques may differ so I hope those won't stop.
Well the wind has finally eased so I took the boat out for an hour or so to see what the damage was. At the top of the tide, visibility was about half a meter, its a sandy green colour with alot of disturbed sand in the water. Once the seas begin to settle I think it will clean up reasonably quick, water temperatures have dropped sharply down to 24-25 degrees and there is alot of flood debris in the water so keep an eye out for floating logs and plastic that could block your water inlets. Weed was a big problem everywhere, expect it to make things difficult for lure fishers for a few days. The swell is still up and it was not safe to venture beyond the pipeline so use caution until it settles down a bit. The pipeline had very few fish on it but we did find a few holding on the south west corner of south straddie, trolled lures through them and hooked up 3 times but each time the hooks pulled. I think they were big hairtail given the strike, the fight and the chunks of paint taken off the lures. There are alot of birds around but they were only feeding around the scum lines, not much bait around that I could see.
Once the seas settle down look for surface feeding on the edge of the dirty water lines out the front of the seaway.
So I've been fishing a bit lately, so here's an all in one report for you. The fishing has been a bit tough so I'm going to keep the reports lean.
Friday 8th February
Got on the water early but no joy, not a hit until dawn. Got cut off twice in a row on 30gram twisties casting right onto the maelstrom at the front of the north wall, big tailor probably. Got into some bigeyes feeding over the pipeline early, managed half a dozen up to 45cm. A couple of small tailor along the inside of the wall. Spent some time bouncing a pearl slider off the bottom and hooked a good fish which turned out to be a 50cm Longnosed Trevally. Nothing else for the rest of the trip.
Tuesday 12th February
On the water just in time for dawn, nothing around the walls or around the pipe or on the bottom. No surface feeding until the last hour of the run in with schools of dart, queenfish and a few small tuna but they were fussy had to drop down to a 7gram slug to tempt them, probably landed about 20 or so. Hit the pipe on the change of tide for one bigeye on a popper, worked the walls for a bit with a squidgy slick rig got smashed by a freight train which headed out offshore with me following before I got spooled, unfortunately after about 5 minutes the line went slack and I wound back a slick rig with a straightened hook.
Wednesday 13th February
On the water for dawn did the usual but nothing so decided to spend some working the south wall to see if I could get a better understanding of its fish holding areas. Spent a couple of hours drifting up and down and found some likely looking areas to concentrate on. Wasn't til I did a drift over the pipe and dropped the slider down the other side, the plastic got smashed and the fish took off on a long screaming run which had me thinking kingie. A long dogged fight and a flash of gold on the way up had a nice 64cm Golden Trevally next to the boat. Near the top of the tide I pulled a couple of dart at the end of the north wall and chased down a few small tuna just offshore.
Thursday 14th February
On the water a bit late just after sunup, concentrated on working the bottom with a slider, picked up a bigeye and a 63cm jewie but pretty quiet. Found some fish holding in the main current path around the front of the wall, no go on the plastics, but switched to a 85gram raider dropped it down and jigged it up fast, got hit and pulled in a 45cm bigeye. Nothing else and called it for the morning.
So to summarise, very little around the walls, the occasional fish around the pipe and bottom of the seaway, surface feeding in front of the walls near the top of the tide. No surface feeding in the broadwater at all. Conditions were not great all of those trips with mid to strong SE and a decent swell most of the time. Need another decent school of baitfish to come through, there is a bit of bait but obviously not enough. That could change at any time. There is still a bit of dirty water around on the bottom half of the tide but the seaway cleans up quick once the tide starts to come in.
Those of you who have been around for a while will remember that last year I accepted donations to keep the site running, it was a 50/50 decision between that and forcing a membership fee on everyone. While the donations were successful in raising the needed funds it always bothered me that the few who graciously donated funds paid for the many users who utilise this site on a daily basis. So this year I have decided to introduce a Gold Class Membership which will initially cost $50 per year or for those who don't go fishing that often a 7 day membership at $10 that allows you to catch up with the latest information. A free membership will also exist for those who don't wish to pay.
The differences between the membership levels will be as follows:
Gold Class Membership @ $50.00(introductory price)
Access to Everything on the site for 1 year: up to date detailed reports, recent articles, forum, seaway record eligiblity and more.
7 day Membership@$10.00
Access to Everything on the site for a period of 7 days: up to date detailed reports, recent articles, seaway record eligiblity and more.
Access to Reports older than 1 month, access to archived articles(6 months old +), access to the forum, seaway record eligiblity, access to other unrestricted content(eg. pictorials, condition updates).
I have alot of interesting stuff planned for this year, but much of that depends on how many people decide to pay for gold class membership. You see by my latest posts the direction that I am taking though there will be a bit more time spent refining livebait techniques this year.
SeawayFishing has always set itself apart from the other fishing websites on the internet by offering something that they do not; Up to date, detailed information about whats going on in a specific area. I see the introduction of a paid membership as a necessary step in taking the site forward and unleashing its true potential. At this stage paid memberships will be introduced on the 1st March 2013. Comments are welcome below.
Thought you might find this interesting, some footage from the underwater tests I have been doing with my gopro. The end goal for this is to see whats showing up on your sounder but won't bite and getting an underwater view of fish feeding on the surface.
So I wanted to fish some more bad weather, plenty of that around at the moment so I decided on an overnighter Tuesday/Wednesday. On the water at 2.30pm, the wind was blowing 20-25 knots plus a 2m SE swell and rain patches. The tide was halfway through the incoming and the water was clean, visibility a couple of metres, water temps 25-5-26 degrees. Went straight to the seaway and had a looksee, a couple of boats over the pipe but not much on it so headed out to the end of the south wall which was a bit protected from the wind. Looking around I spotted a heap of birds feeding in front of the north wall right in the exposed section. It didn't look too bad there so I made sure everything was set up, had my lifejacket on etc and headed over slowly. Once I arrived it was rough as you would expect but fishable as long as you kept away from the wall. Luck was on my side as the fish were feeding from 50m-200m out from the wall, which enabled me to keep a safe distance but it was still rough, wet and windy, easily the worst conditions I've fished in yet. I started off further out and it turned out they were schools of small mack tuna around 50-60cm, they weren't fussy and after an hour had 10 or so in the boat on twisties.
I took a break from the rough stuff headed back inside the broadwater to have a look, nothing in there but a dredge and a new 6kt zone right at the northern edge of wavebreak heading north for about 500m. Back to the north wall with the wind increasing in strength I focused on the closer in schools which turned out to be a mix of bigeyes and kingfish. Switched my lure to a 15 gram gillies which I thought would be better in the cloudy conditions. Caught about 10 bigeyes ranging from 30cm up to 50cm, hooked and landed one kingfish at 67cm and lost another kingfish at the boat. While the schools weren't feeding constantly, when one went down another came up 100m or so away so I was constantly on the move. Top fun. At around 6pm the wind increased up to 37kts(69kph) and the tide turned to run out making that area unfishable. Had a look along the south wall again and had a fish along the inner section of the north wall with minnows and poppers but no joy there. Had a look along the pipeline but nothing around so had another look in the protected parts of the broadwater but nothing. Headed back to the pipeline after dark but the dolphins were on the job scaring the fish away, tried for tarpon but got zip. Gave it away until the next important tide to hit, the incoming tide.
At 2am, the wind had dropped down to about 15kts I came back to the pipeline but the dolphins were still there so I tried for tarpon again but not so much as a hit. Headed out into the area where all the fish were in the afternoon. The swell was still there but the drop in wind speed made it alot easier to fish. I started off with a popper and first cast it was hit by a reasonable bigeye around 40cm, then I pulled another half dozen bigeyes best going around 50cm. At dawn I switched to a minnow and fished the edges but got nothing until the bigeyes starting busting up along the front of the north wall. Picked up another 10 bigeyes there until they went down as the sun came up. Fished plastics on the bottom and worked the walls again but got zip. I did see a nice tailor around 65cm taken on the bottom by another boat, jigging a metal I think. There were some small bigeyes over the pipe sporadically busting up but by then I'd had enough. Spent the rest of the morning taking underwater footage using a custom mount developed to give a fish eye view of things, footage turned out well too.
So overall, lots of bigeyes, some tuna and one lone kingfish but some top action in the rough stuff. Strange there were no tailor around, nothing around the walls at all in fact. The water is cleaning up fast, 2hrs either side of high its reasonably clean, the rest of the time its a dirty grey green colour.
As for the Gopro, while the visuals are first class it has a number of issues which you have to deal with. Firstly sound is just okay, while it catches the sound of water just fine, voices just don't get through the case and there is some high level bitsy interference as well. Secondly the software inside the camera has a tendency to freeze up once it gets hot, you can reboot it by taking out the battery and putting it back in but in rough conditions its a pain in the bum. Thirdly this thing eats batteries like candy, I have 3 batteries and thats enough to get about 1.5hrs of video allowing for idle time. I can handle the issues but if you guys are considering one its worth keeping these things in mind or waiting until gopro can improve things.
My brother and I were keen to get out this weekend obviously because last weekend was a no go and another week with no fishing just wasn’t on. Checking the weather forecasts and knowing the swells and water quality was going to be crap, a new plan of attack was in order. Our goal was to fish a bit later than usual and gather livies for a bait session on the incoming tide. That got thrown out the window as soon as we reached the walls for a look around.
When we arrived at about 5.40 we were watching the huge swells in front of north wall and soon said it was time to get livies. My bro though, somehow spotted some birds working behind south wall and with a bit of debating between us, we decided we’ll try to get closer.
With the swell the way it was, we played it safe and took our time to get there. As soon as we were within range of a cast and in a safe distance of the breaking waves, we fired off some slugs into the group of diving birds. A double hook up straight away, a nice dart and a bigeye trev around the mid 40s was soon landed. That was the start of a great session for us and in the next three hours, we landed and lost more fish than we’ve caught in our last 4 outings. It wasn’t prolific at all times but we were kept quite busy chasing the fish around and keeping the boat in a safe position.
Overall we landed more than a dozen big eye trevs, same amount of dart, a dozen or so tailor, 2 amber jacks and 1 small yellowtail kingie. Size wasn’t on our side as we didn’t land any fish over 60cm. Largest big eye trev was 56cm, largest dart was about 40cm, tailor were all between 30 – 45cm, 52cm and 29cm amber jack and a 55cm kingie.
When the fish weren’t breaking the surface we worked the dirty water lines and had plenty of success. The stand out lures were the 20gram and 30 gram twisties, did try spinner baits in the wash and dirty water with no result. Thinking back we should have given poppers and plastics a go, might have even paid off if we put some effort to get live bait as well.
The water was very choc brown and visibility was really poor, swell was inconsistent with huge ones coming in every now and again. Wind was under 10knots however it did pick up when we were heading home. The clean water was pushing through strong and at about 9am it reached close to the pipeline. Cruised down to wave break for a look but water was still too choco colour so gave it away about 9.15am.
This morning provided plenty of double hook-ups, 1 new species off the seaway list (amber jack) and we got to sleep in. Overall , pretty good morning, doesn’t happen often enough though.
Well things are looking quite good in the seaway at the moment still alot of dirty water around the bottom 3/4 of the tide but there is clean water making its way right into the broadwater at the top of the tide. It stretches from the red barges at the spit down the the cross beacons south of crab at the top of the tide. As long as we don't get any more rain it should clean right up within a couple of weeks. Apparently plenty of bait and small tailor around the walls at the top of the tide as well. Thanks to Steve G for this info.
Here's some video I did while running in my motor on friday afternoon, as you can see its pretty dirty at the bottom half of the tide.
Flooding is a regular occurrence these days and there are still opportunities for some top quality fishing in the dirty water. Fish still need to eat regardless of the visibility and the important thing to remember is that all the fresh water will be in the top layer of water, there will still be salt water towards the bottom especially in deep holes. Most predatory fish will take advantage of the dirty water by ambushing prey as it is flushed out of canals and rivers. The seaway itself provides an excellent hunting ground for predators after a flood due to its depth and strong tidal flows. The deep hole at the end of the north wall is particularly good as it enables fish to rest in the salt water on the bottom and dash up to the surface through the fresh to grab some food. Fish like Mulloway, Tailor and the various Trevally species have no problem hunting in dirty water but they tend to do so only at a time that suits them. This may be at the start of a run out or start of a run in tide.
Dirty water herring
Livebaiting on the bottom usually works very well so as long as you can find some livies you are in with a good shot at some fish. Lures can work well if you find the fish hunting along the current lines, the most likely area for this would be at the ends of the walls but don't discount the edges of the walls themselves. Dirty water makes larger fish more comfortable at hunting close to the surface so throwing around a shallow running minnow or popper can sometimes pay big dividends. Also try a metal such as a twistie or raider along the current lines to see if there are any fish hunting just below the surface. Plastics can also yield a fish or two on the bottom or midwater. If there are any well defined dirty water/clean water lines these are well worth a cast with a minnow or a metal. From what I have seen the flooding on the gold coast was not too bad so it should not take too long for water quality to improve.