This is the story of the SeawayFishing Boat, the Polycraft 410 Challenger that I used to fish the seaway from 2007-2014. I originally came across the polycraft boats in 2005 when one of my mates purchased one. He raved about it and the idea of a plastic boat appealed to me, a low maintenance, quiet, stable fishing platform. When my SeaJay 4.2 Nomad was written off in 2006 I started looking at the Polycraft 410 Challenger. I found one at the right price in 2007 and purchased it through Marine Tune at Burleigh Heads (they don't sell Polycraft anymore).
This began 7 years of great adventures. Through my tutorials I have fished the seaway in many different boat configurations and mine was certainly one of the best for it's size and better than many larger boats. I wore out one motor in 6 years(through excessive full throttle starts chasing surface feeders), did thousands of hours fishing the seaway, took it up north on a fishing roadtrip took it out off Bribie, Noosa, Mooloolabah, Inskip Point, Burrum Heads, Bundaberg, into many freshwater dams, Hervey Bay, 1770, Mackay and even got to the northern tip of Fraser Island in a 20kt Northerly(punishing) and it was still going strong.
The boat was sold in 2014 to a mate who is still fishing with it today(and catching some very nice fish). There is no doubt that had circumstances not changed for me personally I would still be using it today and for many years in the future.
Handles small chop well, doesn't pound as hard into big chop as aluminium boats.
Buoyant, will ride over large waves rather than going through them(essential for the north wall)
Exceptional fishing platform
Won't sink even if you do cop a large wave
No corrosion on the hull
Heavy(forget about getting it off the sand if the tide goes down)
Needs decent horsepower, (don't use anything less than 40, they are rated up to 50 now..get 50)
Needs a Hydrofoil to get up on the plane quick
No more than 2 people or you won't get up on the plane in under a minute with a 40hp.
Over time I have installed a number of mods to the boat to improve the way it fishes. None of these are essential but have made my time fishing the seaway much easier.
A. Acrylic plates
Acrylic plates bolted to the rear wall. These are specifically for fishing the North wall during rough weather. The way the wall pushes water around it the rear end of the boat will always be facing the waves. The rear is the lowest point and copped a few waves over it in rough weather so the acrylic plates were added to give the area some extra freeboard. This worked extremely well and stopped 99% of water coming over.
A hydrofoil (SE Sport 200) was added to improve hole shot. Because all the weight was towards the stern, it took too long to get the boat on the plane, for chasing surface feeders every second counts so the hydrofoil was added. It immediately improved planing speeds going from 5-7 seconds before to less than 2 seconds after.
C. Horizontal rod storage
Chasing surface fish requires the ability to cast in any direction and I wanted more storage for outfits. Vertical rod holders were out so I added horizontal rod holders. This kept them out of the way and enabled 360 degree unhindered casting.
D. Angled rod holders for trolling
Store bought plastic rod holders are weak and cannot handle the hits on heavy gear. Trolling for GT's with 30lb gear requires heavy duty rod holders and these fit the bill. It also keeps them out of the way and they can be used for livebaiting as well.
E. Water Separating Fuel Filter.
Motor breakdowns fishing the North Wall are very bad, when fishing in strong winds and swell it only takes less than a minute without power to get your boat pushed into the rocks. Bad fuel caused me problems twice, both when the fish were biting so I added a water separating fuel filter to filter out the bad stuff before it got to the motor. No problems since.
F. Dual Fuel Tanks
Typically you would only use around 10 litres in a 8 hour seaway fishing session, but extended runs down to Palm Beach Reef saw the needle near empty by the end of the fishing day so a second tank was added for insurance. Only one fuel tank is plugged in at a time so that I can be sure there is still 25 litres to spare.
G. Removable Anchor Light.
Due to the need to have an all round anchor light that is unobstructed by anything and removable I trialled a number of options. The plug in varieties caused all sorts of problems due to corrosion on the terminals. I eventually setting on using the plugin base and pole but bolting a battery operated light at the top.
H. Battery Isolater Switch
This enabled me to insure that all electrics were turned off at the end of the day, switches on the switch panel were easily knocked on so it ensured no electrics were on once the boat was washed and put away.
I. Bilge pump in motor well.
Water always drains into the motor well at the back so having a bilge pump in there ensured any excess water could be pumped out instantly. Very useful on rainy days or if you are travelling in chop with a 3/4 wind and getting alot of spray.
Use care when adding seats or bolting anything to the floor. Due to the flexible double hull an overlong bolt can work it's way through the outer hull.
If the skids on the trailer get sticky, use a lanolin spray such as Inox. But be careful, once it's on the boat will come off the trailer like a rocket. Always use a safety chain backing down the ramp.
Some more footage of the boat running below, this was taken running in the new motor in early 2013 so I was only going up to half speed.
With the summer season almost upon us it's time to take a look at what there is to chase in the seaway and broadwater during summer and how summer weather affects feeding behaviour. Water temperatures should be increasing to around 22 degrees but sustained NE winds will bring back the cold water down as low as 18 degrees making some of the fish sluggish, fish strong SE wind events to get the cleaner water and warmer temps. The large schools of Frogmouth pilchards have started to arrive and we should see an increase in surface feeding activity as the bait numbers continue to increase.
Edge fishing with poppers and shallow running minnows should yield some excellent quality fish at dawn and dusk and during the run-in tides. Don't be afraid to fish in dirty water especially around the ends of the walls, most predatory species love hunting around the areas where the dirty water from the river meets the clean ocean water. Last summer we had some excellent fishing with Bigeye Trevally, Small Yellowtail Kingfish(60-65cm) and Tailor all smashing bait as the clean water pushed the dirty water in past the ends of the walls. Most fisho's are out off by a bad forecast but the best fishing last summer was had when the winds were gusting 20-30kts, take care to not go past the ends of the walls in those conditions. Make sure your engine is serviced and you have all your safety gear, the walls usually claim at least one boat every summer because of a broken down engine.
Fishwise, Bigeye Trevally should be around in large numbers and sizes with 50cm+ fish more prevalent at night. Poppers and minnows around the walls at dawn and slugs/microjigs/plastics near the pipeline on early morning run in tides. Vibs and Microjigs dropped down deep around current lines during the day should also pick a few good specimens. At night look( & listen!) for them around the pipeline on the first hour of the run-in and run-out tide and throw poppers and skitterbaits at them. You should also be able to find them up the Broadwater, around Marina Mirage and in the Nerang river just after dusk, wait for a tide change though as it usually triggers them into feeding mode whether it be a run-in or run-out.
The large schools of Giant Trevally should be upstream by now. You should still be able to pick up the odd one on trolled lures, plastics and Microjigs though. Keep an eye out around December and January for a possible brief reappearance of big GT's in the Canyon and in the Broadwater when the bait schools are thickest.
Tailor numbers should increase with the biggest fish showing around the north wall in December and January. Poppers, Skitterbaits, big Minnows and live pike will catch the bigger fish, Metals will catch plenty of the smaller fish, look for surface feeding anywhere in the seaway, the broadwater or just off the shore break of south straddie in the early morning. If fishing during the day try casting along the North wall on the first hour a run-in tide with a skitterbait for quality fish. Try dropping a microjig to the bottom along the North Wall as well, these fish are usually smaller but good to fill in a bit of time if you are waiting for a tide change.
Most of the Tarpon will be upstream by now and you should be able to find them in the upper reaches of the Coomera and Nerang Rivers. There still might be the odd fish or 2 around the Seaway Rock walls for anyone luring with plastics after dark.
Yellowtail Kings are around in numbers now, look for them around the Pipeline and North Wall. Also keep an eye in the Northern Y, Canyon and Northern Channel up to the Cross Channels. Live Pike works best for the larger fish, but large plastics like the 7" Gulp Jerk Shad and large Poppers will also tempt a few. Skitterbaits, Halco Twisties and minnow shaped plastics work fine for smaller fish feeding on surface as long as the bait is a reasonable size, look for these around the Pipeline, end of the South Wall and Northern Y on the run-in tides. If the bait is tiny then it will be a bit more difficult, try 3gram Rios slugs or go up to 7" Gulp Jerk Shads. These smaller kingfish will usually feed on surface once every 10 minutes or so, between bustups try to find where they are sitting on the bottom and drop a plastic or 30gram Halco Twisty down into them.
Mulloway are always around and will be able to be caught as the tide slows and speeds up at either end of the tide with vibs, plastics and livies. The North Wall Deep Hole, Pipeline and Canyon hold the largest numbers of Mulloway but they can turn up anywhere. If you really want a big Mulloway go out to the bait reefs at dawn, dusk or during a night with no moon and put a live Yellowtail down near the bottom.
Hairtail could show up anytime now for those fishing at night, look for them around the ends of the walls on a runout tide or in slower areas like Hairtail Reach during run-in tides. They will take livies or dead baits, as well as plastics and trolled minnows fished slow.
Offshore, Mack Tuna numbers should increase, we may see a run of Striped and Yellowfin Tuna, as well as Bonito and Frigate Mackerel. Spotted and Spanish Mackerel should show up as we get closer to the end of the year, around Christmas time is an excellent time for look for these around the inshore reefs.
Summer is a great time to be out on the water, for more information on surviving the silly season out on the water see last years Silly Season recommendations
Proven lures for the Summer Season.
10, 20, 30 Gram Halco Twisty
Rapala Skitter Pop 7 & 9
Owner Zip N Ziggy
Megabass Vision 111
Storm 30gm Microjig
Berkley Gulp 7" Jerkshad White Pearl on 1oz Jighead
Now that winter is behind us, its time to start looking at what changes spring brings to the seaway and broadwater areas. Water temperatures should increase slowly over the next few months leading to an increase in surface feeding activity especially towards the start of Summer and edge fishing with poppers, stickbaits and shallow running minnows should yield some good fish at dawn and dusk. Weather will get increasingly erratic with lots more strong Northerly and Southerly winds making the north wall unfishable for a few days a week.
The dreaded snot weed will make an appearance in September(if it hasn't already) and make lure and bait fishing difficult on the run-out tides but hopefully should be gone by mid October.
Fishwise, Bigeye trevally should start to show up in bigger numbers and sizes with 50cm+ fish becoming more prevalent as we head towards summer. Poppers and minnows around the walls and slugs/microjigs/plastics near the pipeline on early morning run in tides. Vibs and Microjigs dropped down deep around current lines should also pick a few good specimens. At night look( & listen!) for them around the pipeline on the first hour of the run-in and run-out tide and throw poppers and skitterbaits at them.
The large schools of Giant Trevally should head further upstream in late September and only be sporadically caught between October and March. You should still be able to pick up a few on trolled lures, plastics and Microjigs though. Keep an eye out around December and January for a brief reappearance when the bait schools are thickest.
Tailor numbers should increase with the biggest fish showing around the north wall in mid October, November and December. Poppers, Skitterbaits, big Minnows and live pike will catch the bigger fish, Slugs & Slices will catch plenty of the smaller fish, look for surface feeding anywhere in the seaway, the broadwater or just off the shore break of south straddie. If fishing during the day try casting along the North wall on the first hour a run-in tide with a skitterbait for quality fish. Try dropping a microjig to the bottom as well, these fish are usually smaller but good to fill in a bit of time.
Most of the Tarpon will head upstream as the waters begin to warm and you should be able to find them in the channels around Crab Island, up past Sovereign Island to Couran Cove and up the Coomera and Nerang Rivers. There still might be the odd fish or 2 around the Seaway Rock walls for anyone luring after dark.
Yellowtail kings should show up in increasing numbers between now and the start of summer though they can show up anywhere at anytime. The pipeline is a given but there should be some hanging around the north and south walls which are easier to land. Also keep an eye in the Northern Y, Canyon and Northern Channel up to the Cross Channels. Stickbaits, Poppers and livies work well for the larger fish, Skitterbaits, twisties and plastics work fine for smaller fish feeding on surface.
Mulloway are always around and will be able to be caught at the tide changes with vibs, plastics and livies. If you really want a big Mulloway go out to the bait reefs at dawn, dusk or during a night with no moon and put a live Yellowtail down near the bottom. Flathead should show up briefly as they spawn in the seaway in large numbers in September and October, plastics on the bottom or live Herring are best for these fish.
Hairtail will show up sometime between now and summer for those fishing at night, look for them around the ends of the walls on a runout tide or in slower areas like Hairtail Reach during run-in tides. They will take livies or dead baits, as well as plastics and trolled minnows fished slow. Expect to lose tackle if you don't use wire when these are around.
Offshore, Mack Tuna numbers should increase, we may see a run of bonito and frigate mackerel as well. Mackerel should show up towards the end of spring but won’t really get going until we are into summer and Autumn.
Towards the end of September but possibly as late as November we should see large schools of frogmouth pilchards enter the seaway and broadwater, this is the cue for the beginning of the summer surface season and will see some top quality surface action with Trevally, Tailor, Queenfish and Kingfish all busting into big schools of bait, keep an eye out for this as it can happen at any time.
Surface feeding fish make up approximately 30% of the fish caught in the seaway and broadwater. These can consist of Tailor, Australian Salmon, Giant and Bigeye Trevally, Tarpon, Yellowtail Kingfish, Lesser Queenfish, Various species of Mackerel, Bonito and Tuna. This article will go into detail about where and when to look, how to target each species effectively and what to look for.
First of all why do the fish feed on the surface around the seaway and broadwater? The reason for this is that when large schools of bait(white, blue and frogmouth pilchards) enter the seaway and larger fish start attacking them they form into bait balls. When baitfish form into a bait ball the continuously changing ball confuses the predatory fish and makes it harder to chase a single or small group of fish. It is much easier for schools of predatory fish to push the baitfish to the surface flattening the school and attack from underneath. The way they do this is interesting, the bulk of the large fish swim below keeping the bait school near the surface while individuals within the school take turns in attacking vertically from underneath. Once each fish has grabbed a mouthful it will dive back down, swallow and join in with the driving school while other fish take their turn at having a feed. This cooperative method of feeding ensures every fish gets a chance at the food while still using only a little amount of energy, I have sent the camera into feeding schools of Tailor, Bigeyes, Tuna and Giant Trevally and they all use this method. What we see on the surface is only a very small fraction of the fish involved in the hunt. There can be many different fish involved in a bustup as well, I have seen Bigeyes and GT's feeding underneath a school of tuna and Kingfish feeding underneath a school of Tailor. These other fish are usually a bit deeper down and are picking up the stunned baitfish that the main school of fish miss.
While you can see surface feeding at any time during the year, there are two distinct seasons when the likelihood of surface feeding around the seaway increases. The first is from Mid February through to the end of May and the second is from the start of November through to the start of January. Both of these seasons coincide with large runs of baitfish, white pilchards from March -May, Frogmouth pilchards from November to January.
Surface Feeding Guidelines
Some guidelines when looking for surface feeding are as follows:
Run-in Tides are best, be at the mouth of the seaway when the tide starts to push in(add 1-1.5hrs to official bottom of the tide).
Find the Clean/dirty water line and follow it in.
Look for large schools of bait, the cleaner the water the further up the broadwater the bait will be.
Keep an eye on all Bird activity at all times.
Concentrate on ambush area's such as the North Wall, Canyon and Pipeline but always keep an eye on other area's particularly the mouth of the seaway, the Triangle and Northern Channel.
Tides that turn to run-in in the 2hrs after sunup or 2 hours before sundown are the best.
Fish will feed on surface regardless of the wind speed or weather, flat calm, howling wind, sunny, torrential rain and everything in between will all see fish feeding on the surface.
There will be times when all the guidelines are thrown out the window. The fish will feed on surface at the bottom of the run-out tide in the middle of the day if it suits them, keeping an eye on bird activity will tell you if this happens.
Approaching and Where to Cast in a Bustup
There are two schools of thought when it comes to approaching a bustup. The full speed approach and the idle approach. The full speed approach is basically a full speed run to within casting distance(20-30m) then put the motor in idle while you cast. The Idle approach is a slow approach with the motor in gear and idling, this approach takes time and relies on no other boats using the full speed approach. While both approaches have thier uses the full speed approach is more useful. 90% of the time the fish will only feed for a short time(between 15 and 30 seconds) regardless if you are there are not. The full speed approach will typically get you into casting range in around 10 seconds leaving you time to get 1 or two casts into the school before they sound. The idle approach can take up to a minute(or more) to get you in position and the fish may well have sounded before that happens. When the fish are in feeding mode they don't care about boat noise, in the seaway and broadwater they are used to it, they do care about getting run over by boats so make sure you keep back a good casting distance. On the rare occasion that fish are super flighty and sounding due to boats getting close(I've only seen it a few times) you can use the idle approach.
Bustups can be made up of two stages of fish. The primary stage and the secondary stage. The primary stage is the first lot of fish to come up to the surface, this stage is usually the largest lot and getting a cast into this lot is usually your best shot at catching fish. As the primary stage begins to subside the secondary stage may begin. Secondary stage fish are more scattered and can be found in a wider area, the reason for this is that much of the baitfish are now split up and covering a wider area due to the primary stage fish attacking the bait. Secondary stage fish are more likely to spread out on thier own away from the group and chase a single baitfish along the surface of the water feeding more horizontally than vertically. It is these fish that may follow a lure to the boat. If the baitfish attacked by the primary stage fish do not scatter in a way that enables effective feeding then the secondary stage will not start.
When approaching the bust-up try and determine the right angle to put your cast through the thickest part of the fish, for example in the image below, if you were over to the right of the C you could cast right across the school and have your lure land on A, have it pass through B and C on the way back to the boat. That way you get a chance at the primary fish as well as the secondary fish. That all depends on whether you are in the right position when the fish surface.
The above picture gives you an idea of a typical bustup(in this case GT's). A and B shows you the primary fish and the thickest part of the bustup. Ideally this is where you should be aiming your first cast. If that cast comes back unmolested then aim for the secondary fish at C and D. Remember that the fish creating the splashes in the bustup have already fed and are diving back down and it is the fish coming up for a feed that you cannot see that you will likely hook. Much of the time the fish feed in a certain direction(either with or against the current), try and anticipate this and cast in-front of the leading fish. All that said, sometimes a wild cast in any direction can pick up a fish out of a bustup, so even if you miscast and the lure lands 5 metres off to one side, it's worth working it back to the boat.
This kingfish took a 15gm Gillies baitfish cast into a bustup near the canyon.
Yellowtail Kingfish usually feed in distinct sizes. There can be both large schools of 55-70cm fish and small schools of metre plus fish. Each of these feeds in different ways on the surface. The smaller fish usually feed as part of a large school, they will push the bait to the surface then most of the school will attack at once. These smaller fish are usually not fussy(though it usually depends on the size of bait) and will take small poppers and stickbaits, Twisties and Raiders up to 30grams in size. These smaller kingfish are quite predictable in their movements and behaviour once they have settled into a pattern, you can often sit and wait in one location for them to reappear on surface every 10-15 minutes and as long as you are in the right spot you can get a cast in there in the first 5 seconds.
The larger Kingfish are a much tougher fish to find, tempt and land. They can appear anywhere at anytime but have a liking for the Pipeline and the Canyon up to the first set of beacons north. There doesn't seem to be any stand out lure for the big Kingfish as they have been hooked on a number of different lures including the Skitterbait, Owner ZipnZiggy, 30gram Twisty, 60gram Raider, Halco Roosta Popper and the FishArrow Flash J soft plastic. Big Kingfish feeding behaviours can vary from a full on feeding frenzy(rare) to the more common mooching which is a slow methodical form of feeding usually on very small bait which also makes them very hard to tempt with anything. Your best shot at hooking a big surface feeding Kingfish is when the bait is large pilchards around 10cm long. When that happens they will take most lures thrown at them, but accuracy and timing are still important. If you find them feeding over a weedbed and they refuse lures, try catching a pike and throwing one at the school unweighted.
For finding both sizes of fish birds are the key, they will spot Kingfish pushing bait to the surface a long time before you do. Watch for false diving birds as these will indicate fish that are close to busting up.
This 77cm GT took a popper thrown into a bustup late in the afternoon
Giant Trevally are one of the main attractions for chasing surface feeding fish in and around the seaway. Size range can be anything from low to mid 40's up to 80cm+ monsters. Like most fish they tend to feed in distinct sizes but those sizes can change from week to week. As an example in 2013, the season started in March with most fish in the mid 40's and low 50's, by late April we were seeing some hit the Mid 60's, towards late May we were seeing some in the mid 70's -80cm range. From then on the size varied a bit between mid 60's and mid 70's. They stopped surface feeding in late July but showed up again briefly in November.
When GT's feed on the surface they do it as a group, the number breaking the surface can be as low as 1 or 2 but the amount of fish below can be in the hundreds. When all the fish come up to the surface at once it can be a sight to behold. GT's can and will feed in the middle of the day if the bait is thick enough and the tide is right but they can be a bit picky on those day's especially if it is sunny. Foul weather days see them feeding alot more aggressively and for longer, strong winds and rain don't
bother them at all.
The mouth of the Seaway, Pipeline, Canyon, Northern Channel and the Cross Channels are all long term proven area's for GT surface feeding but they can show up anywhere. Find where the baitfish are congregating and make sure you are there for the run-in tide.
Most lures will work for GT's when they are feeding, 20 and 30gram Halco Twisties, 25 and 40 Gram Raiders, Halco Roosta Poppers 110 Rapala Skitter Pop 70 & 90, River2sea Bubble Pop 70 & 90, Skitterbaits, Gillies pilchard 20 & 40g & baitfish 15 & 25g slugs are all proven performers on active GT's. When they are a bit fussier you can go to a baitfish profile plastic like the Fisharrow Flash J, Squidgie Flickbait or Keitech Shad Impact on 1/8 oz jigheads or using a splitshot rig.
The most important thing to remember with chasing GT's on surface is that they like a slow to medium speed retrieve, they don't want it moving flat out so if you are having difficulty getting a hookup slow down your retrieve and see if that works.
Bigeye Trevally are the second most common species to see feeding on the surface around the seaway. This section will cover daylight feeding behaviour. The average size for a seaway bigeye is around 45cm but they can get up to nearly 80cm. These larger fish are rarely caught and do not usually get involved in surface feeding.
When Bigeyes are feeding they aren't fussy, 10, 20 and 30gram Halco Twisties, 15, 25 and 40 Gram Raiders, Rapala Skitter Pop 70 & 90, River2sea Bubble Pop 70 & 90, Skitterbaits, Gillies pilchard 10 & 20g, Gillies Baitfish 15 & 25g slugs are all proven performers but anything remotely looking like bait should work.
The most common area's for Bigeye Trevally surface feeding during daylight hours is the North Wall Tip, North Wavebreak Rock Wall, Along the South Wall, Pipeline and the Triangle though they can show up anywhere.
This large Tailor took a skitterbait cast into a bustup in the broadwater
Tailor the the most likely fish to find surface feeding in the seaway and broadwater. The best area is around the North Wall but you will also find them further in the seaway and anywhere within the broadwater. They prefer water that is slightly dirty so the first of the incoming tide with its clean/dirty water lines is one of the best times to find them. If the water at the mouth of the seaway is clean then they will most likely be caught further up the broadwater.
Tailor are not fussy, they will take anything when they are feeding, including slugs, slices, poppers, stickbaits, minnows, plastics and vibs. The lure that has caught more tailor than any other would be the 20gram Halco Twisty.
The average size for surface feeding tailor is around 35cm, but occasionally you will get larger fish up to 65cm particularly around dawn and dusk. You can also get runs of much larger fish that will feed on the surface around early december. Tailor love windy/rainy/overcast weather so get out there when the wind is gusting 20-30kts and look for the birds.
A typical surface feeding lesser queenfish taken on a 7gm sea rock.
Lesser Queenfish can uusally found somewhere in the seaway and broadwater. They are small with a maximum size around 60cm but the average is around 30cm. They seem to like feeding in dirty water rather than clean(though they will feed in both) and the runout tide will often see them feeding in the Northern and Southern Y's early in the morning but it is quite common to see them chasing bait around the end of the north wall as well. Due to the often tiny bait they are chasing they can be frustrating to catch, small slugs and metals like the smallest 7gm raider, 7gm sea rock, 5gm Rios are all ideal for chasing Queenfish.
Tarpon are an occasional daylight surface feeder in the seaway, you mostly see them doing it in March-April and only on the runout tide when the water is dirty. They do show up on the surface on a run-in tide occasionally but they tend to be very hard to hook. As a predator used to low light conditions it can hunt baitfish extremely well in dirty water. The key to catching tarpon is to throw soft plastics at them and give it a slow retrieve back to the boat, the fish will soon pick them up and start tapping at them. Any small soft plastic will work, but proven varieties are Ecogear Grass Minnow M, Squidgy Slick Rig 70 & 90, Zman Curl Tails all on 3/8th oz heads.
This salmon was caught off the Grand hotel boat ramp
Australian Salmon are only an occasional visitor to the Gold Coast Seaway and broadwater. We had large runs of them in 2007 and 2011 but they were rare outside of those years. They usually turn up in winter around July and stay until spring(October). Australian Salmon love a run-in tide and will often feed according to a tight schedule. In 2011 for example they would feed about 2 hours after the start of a run-in tide. Australian Salmon love pushing bait into shallow areas and for this reason you will often find them feeding in shallower area's than some species. Good area's for them include Horseshoe Flats and the area directly south, the North Wavebreak Flats up to The Elbow, North Wall Flats, The Dredges on the spit and Curlew Island opposite that. They will turn up in an area and stay for a few weeks, in 2011 they loved feeding in and around the Grand Hotel Boat ramp and up as far as the mouth of Loders Creek.
Soft plastics work the best on Australian Salmon due to their prodigious jumping ability, but they will also take slugs, metal, poppers and minnows. When they are chasing specific size bait then a small minnow type plastic will work the best like the 3" Berkley Hollowbellies, Fish Arrow Flash J 2 & 3", Berkley Gulp 3" Minnow in any colours that look like the bait they are chasing. In terms of action not much is needed, cast in there and give it slow twitching retrieve.
Mack Tuna caught in the triangle casting a pearl slider into a bustup
The various varieties of Tuna mainly hang around the entrance of the seaway but occasionally they will enter the seaway and broadwater. I have seen Mack and Striped Tuna up as far as Crab Island. They usually don't do it for long though and as a result they tend to be there one day and gone the next. Best lures for the Tuna are small slugs and metals like the Gillies Baitfish 15gram and 20 gram Raider. They can also be caught on plastics though and any of the baitfish profile plastics will work as well as the Pearl Slider.
Tuna feeding over the pipeline
Like the Tuna's the Mackerels are a bit hit and miss, but school Mackerel will often hang around for a couple of weeks around the ends of the walls. They tend not to feed on surface as much as the Tuna's around the seaway but when they do a slug or metal in the 15-20gram size will work, as will minnows and poppers.
This bonito took the skitterbait cast into a bustup
Bonito are quite a common visitor to the seaway and to a lesser extent the Broadwater. You will often find both Australian Bonito and Watson's Leaping Bonito around the North Wall for weeks at a time. They aren't fussy and will take most slugs and metals worked quickly as well as poppers, stickbaits, plastics and minnows. Occasionally schools will work their way into the broadwater on the run-in tides up as far as Crab Island.
Chasing Surface Feeding Schools Etiquette
Chasing surface feeding schools of fish is top fun and it can get very popular especially on the weekends with 20+ boats all trying to beat each other to the fish. However tempers can get frayed if you are doing the wrong thing and abuse(and lures) can start to fly so here are a few helpful hints to make sure everyone has a good time.
Don't drive into the feeding fish - Now this may seem like commonsense but I've seen quite a few boats do this. Drive up to them within casting distance(20m is close enough) then put the motor in neutral and cast into them from there. Sometimes the fish will be moving and your boat will drift into the feeding school. That is fine, as the fish will quite happily feed around a drifting boat. Just don't drive into them at full speed, that will put the fish down every time.
Don't troll through a surface feeding school if others are casting into it. Similar to the first one and again commonsense, but I've seen a few boats do it. If you are the only boat around then go nuts do whatever you want but trolling rarely works on surface feeding fish. If you continue to do it with lots of boats around, expect to get some abuse.
Don't drive over someones line who is already hooked up. If you arrive late to a bustup and someone is already hooked up don't drive over their line in your hurry to get to the action, they won't thank you for it.
Accept that crossed lines will happen. With multiple boats casting at a school of fish there are going to be crossed lines and tangles, most people just accept it and move on, a small minority get pissed off and abuse you. If you can't handle it don't chase surface feeding fish.
You don't own a piece of water. - Some people will see some action then anchor up right in the middle of it and abuse anyone that comes within 100m. Sorry to say this but you don't own it, if you anchor right in the middle of where the fish are feeding expect to get lures thrown at your boat.
Don't wait over the top of a suspended school. If you are between bustups waiting for the fish to surface again and see them on the sounder, move off to one side. The fish are waiting for another bait school to come through that they can push to the surface and that won't happen if your boat is right over the top of them.
Targeting surface feeding fish is one of the main attractions of fishing the seaway and broadwater, if you can find them. There will be days when everything is right and the fish still don't feed on the surface. I have spent many days focusing on surface feeders only to find nothing, on the other hand some days I've found them straight away and have had some truly epic fishing sessions. Using observation there have been times when I have been right within casting distance when a school of fish has come to the surface for the first time. Pay attention to what is going on around you, look for birds, bait schools, schools of fish on the sounder and above all have patience, the fish will only feed when they are ready.
A school of Tailor herding white pilchards, a few fish would attack every five minutes or so while the majority of the Tailor would help to drive the school of bait
Three most important things to keep in mind when fishing the seaway.
Just by keeping your eyes open to whats going on around you can lead you to unique fishing opportunites that others may miss. That is not only looking for birds that are over fish but also any surface action even if it is just a single boil or a spray of baitfish. Keeping a constant eye on your sounder is also important.
Move around based on what the tide is doing, if the tide is just about to run in you should be at the ends of the walls waiting for the first push of the tide around the front of the walls and the clean water to push in, at Dawn or Dusk you should be concentrating around the major fish holding areas like the North Wall/Pipeline/Canyon. Never get so carried away with collecting bait that you miss the major bite periods - first hour of the run-in, last hour of the run-in, first hour of the runout.
When using a specific lure or bait, pay attention to where it is at all times. If you are using a microjig keep it within 2 metres of the bottom, same with plastics and live baits. You should be constantly dropping them to the bottom and lifting them up a metre just to make sure. If you are fishing the edges, make sure your lure is landing within 1 metre of the rock edge or closer... as close as you dare. If you aren't getting snagged occasionally, you aren't getting close enough. If you are casting into feeding fish aim for the thickest part of the bustup. When trolling make sure the lure is running no more than a couple of metres over the top of the fish or the bottom.
Paying attention to these three things will catch you more fish than spending any amount of money on expensive fishing gear or fancy boats.
Micro jigging is still in it's early stages for the seaway, It's a technique that works but not in every situation or all the time. I have been using the technique on and off for the last few months and its pulled quite a few fish, nothing outstanding but enough so that it's an option when other techniques have failed.
Micro jigging work's very well on Tailor when they are sitting on the bottom during the day. One problem with catching Tailor on Micro Jigs is they chew through the kevlar rope from the hook up to the solid ring. You can make your own by using heavy braid and decent hooks, most small single hooks lack the strength needed. I use Gamakatsu Big Bait 1/0 hooks. Big tailor will also have a go and will bite the whole jig off, nothing you can do about that. Other species it has hooked have been Bonito, Mulloway, Bigeye Trevally, Longnose Trevally and Yellowtailed Kingfish. It should yield some assorted reef and pelagic species in the future.
The best technique so far seems to be to drop the jig to the bottom, jig it up 5 times in quick succession, then sink it back down to the bottom and repeat. The majority of strikes seem to come on the sink down after the 5 jigs so watch your line going back down after the jigs and be prepared to strike if you see it pause. You can jig it all the way back to the surface as well every now and again. You can change the speed and timing of the jigs as well, sometimes the fish might want it slower or faster.
The best location so far is the North Wall Eddy/Runway/Deep Hole on both the run-in and run-out tides, the bottom of this area is covered in rocks so I recommend only using one hook rather than two. While you will drop a few fish it's better than constantly losing jigs. The Pipeline is also an area worth trying it, as is the Canyon and Northern Y.
There are a couple of brands of micro-jigs on the market. The Storm Gomoku range and the Maria Shore Tricker Jigs. The Storm Gomoku only come with one single hook and are around $9.00, the Maria's come with two single hooks and are around $15.00 The Storm Gomoku in 30gram Chrome is my current favourite, it has the right weight so that it can get down deep fairly quickly, a thin profile and a nice fluttering sink that throws off alot of flash. Other colours do work but not as well. You attach the jigs from the split ring at the end the hook is attached to.
Any light to medium tackle will work so you don't need to invest in specialised jigging tackle but a high speed reel will make it easier to work the jig at speed. I recommend a 3000 size reel with a 6:1 retrieve and anywhere from 12- 30lb braid. I recommend no less than 30lb leader as your jig will be hitting multiple rocks when it hits the bottom. Constantly check your leader to make sure it has no serious damage. As far as rods go, any light to medium graphite rod 6-7ft will do, a longer butt makes it easier to jig for long periods. Dedicated micro jig rods are available and are alot softer with a more parabolic action.
It's still early days for this technique but it's worthwhile investing in a few jigs and giving it a shot, especially once the sun is up and you are in between tide changes. Just remember to keep your jig near the bottom in the bottom couple of metres of water as that is where most of the strikes will come.
As we come to the end of 2013 it's time to look back on what happened this year in the Gold Coast Seaway And Broadwater. It's been an interesting year, I've spent more time in the seaway this year than any of the other previous years and as a result I have a much better understanding of how and why fish feed in there. That said, the seaway can still be a tough place to catch fish consistently, alot of the time on overnighter trips I found myself waiting....for the next tidal change or change in conditions(dawn/dusk). For consistent results, stacking the odds in your favour by using the right timing is essential, as is keen observation and experimentation of techniques to see what the fish want on the day.
Here's a rundown of what species showed up in each month.
January - Striped Tuna, Big GT's, Tailor, Bigeyes
February - Floods, Bigeyes, Dart
March - GT's, Bigeyes, Tailor, Mack Tuna, Tarpon
April - GT's, Tarpon, Tailor, Kingfish, Mulloway
May - GT's, Kingfish, Tailor, Mulloway, School Mackerel
June - School Mackerel, Mulloway, GT's, Dart, Tarpon,
July - Mulloway, Hairtail, Tailor, Tarpon
August - Mulloway, Tailor, Tarpon, GT's, Bigeyes
September - Mulloway, Tailor, GT's, Tarpon, Hairtail
October - Tailor, Bonito, Mulloway
November - Yellowtail Kingfish, Tailor, Dart,
December - Yellowtail Kingfish, Tailor, Bigeyes, Dart, Hairtail, Queenfish, Mulloway
The GT's played the biggest part this year and some awesome sessions were had on just about every technique from March to August. What was the most interesting was the progression of techniques used throughout the year from slugs, to plastics, to poppers/stickbaits to trolled minnows.
Yellowtail Kingfish again proved how tough they could be with this year only a few large specimens landed during the year, many(many) more got away. The smaller Kingfish that showed up during November and December showed how much fun they can be when they aren't too big to land on light gear.
Tailor showed up in schools of smaller fish numerous times, both in the Northern Channel and in the Seaway itself but Greenbacks only showed as single fish around the North Wall a few times during the year. The summer run of greenbacks never eventuated.
Bigeyes showed up in numbers during the first few months of the year, then disappeared only to reappear in short bursts in the last couple of months of the year. At this time they are still unpredictable.
Tarpon were caught in singles for the first couple of months, then we saw some schools feeding during the day in the Northern Y which stuck around for a couple of months. Nocturnal session's around the North and South walls had the Tarpon throwing lures with wild abandon as usual during June and July. They tapered off as usual around the end of October.
Hairtail showed up in odd times during nocturnal sessions but showed their typical here today gone tomorrow behaviour, they still managed to cut off at least 20 plastics this year.
This year saw a few oddities captured, Golden, Longnose and Cale Cale Trevally, Barracuda, Sharks(on lures), Blue Maori Cod, School Mackerel and I even saw a couple of spanish mackerel landed.
Thanks to all of you who have shared your fishing adventures with me over the past year, both on the website and on the water: Vince, Andrew, Howard, Andy, Jayde, Chris, Kane, Jeff, Tim, Brett, Shamus, Wade, Steve, Wayne, Mick, Steven, Peter, Gordo, Rob, James, Kris, Ricko and anyone else I may have missed.
Lets hope that 2014 see's some more good fish landed for all of us.
Skitterbaits have gone through extensive testing to find out the most appropriate hook setup, you can see the types of hooks I have used below. Currently they are only sold with VMC 3X 9626 Hooks.
Skitterbait with stock hooks
These are the hooks supplied with skitterbaits when I get them, they are weak suitable for small tailor and trevally only. It's obvious they aren't up to the task for most seaway fish so I looked for an alternative that would maintain buoyancy without sacrificing strength.
GT-Bio #6 Hooks
Skitterbait with GT-Bio Hooks fitted
The first set of hooks I supplied with skitterbaits.
I came across these hooks and they looked ideal for the task, lightweight yet strong enough to handle most fish. I tested them extensively before releasing them with skitterbaits. As of this time I have caught over 200 fish on them including many small Kingfish, GT's up to 65cm, loads of Tailor up to 58cm, Bigeyes up to 59cm, Dart, Tarpon and even fought a battle with a 12 Kilo+ King for over 40 minutes. The worst that happened over 6 months of testing was some bending of the hooks when trying to remove them. That said, it is simply not possible to test for every variable in fishing so other things did happen once they were out in the wild. Once I heard of a few problems(only 4 in over 200), I started to test new hook patterns in the hope of improving them.
Decoy Pluggin Singles
Skitterbait with Decoy Pluggin Singles fitted
These were tested as an alternative to the GT-Bio Trebles, found to work okay (but had a poor hookup rate)and offered as an alternative on November 25th 2013(not currently offered).
VMC 3X #4 Hooks
Skitterbait fitted with VMC 3X #4
The hookup rate with the pluggin Singles was poor so I set about testing heavier duty trebles. The VMC 3X #4 looked to be about the right size so I tested them but ran into the problems I had earlier on in the year. That is the skitterbaits would barely float and would sink sometimes. With a bit of testing it didn't seem to affect their fish catching ability (as long as you kept them moving)so I changed the trebles offered from the GT-Bio #6 to these.
Owner Bound Doubles
Skitterbaits with bound doubles
These are my favourite setup but not currently offered for sale, Owner #2 Double hooks bound together with 200lb Braid. These have a better hookup rate than the single hooks, the hookup rate of the VMC trebles without the extra weight and more strength than the GT-Bio hooks.
Silly Season is approaching. Between December 21st - January 5th will see heavy traffic in the Seaway and Broadwater. It can be a testing time for boaties with water rage incident's, inexperienced boaties, massive cruisers flying through at top speed and jetski's by the hundreds. That said, the fishing can be excellent if you know what to look for and where to be at what time. I'm not planning on fishing alot during this time, I'll probably only fish on the worst weather days(20-30kts SE or NE with the right tides) so for those of you who have time off and want to get on the water I'm going to make some recommendations. Remember that tides do matter, as does the weather and you should allow for that on the day.
Look for birds and specific bird behaviour - Birds will indicate feeding activity probably 75% of the time.
The early morning is consistently the best time - most fish haven't eaten for 10+ hours so they 'should' be hungry. Afternoon's can yield some good fishing but tend to be very tide dependant. If the tide turns to run-in after 3pm, look for surface feeding by Kings or Tailor.
If there is fish feeding behaviour on surface but they go down, look for the school on the sounder and try dropping metals to the bottom and burning them back to the top.
First light is around 3.45am with sunup at 4.45am. Just before the sun pokes over the horizon is the peak time for the dawn bite, so be on the water ready to fish no later than 4.30am.
Some fish prefer to feed when there is more light(Kingfish especially) so you might see another surface bite after the sun is up from 5am through til 8am.
Look elsewhere, although the top spots in the seaway consistently hold fish, sometimes looking elsewhere away from the crowds can mean you find fish that no-one else knows about.
Fishing after dark is not for everyone, but if the crowds are proving to be too stressful during the day a dusk session into the night can yield some nice fish without the agro. Check the Nocturnal Seaway Fishing article for information on that.
North Wall - Currently only holding Tailor & sometimes Dart - Minnows, poppers, stickbaits, metals - Dawn or Dusk + run-in tides. Fish with surface lures if they are busting up otherwise go for a metal. Minnows still work from first light til sunup. Microjigs can work fished near the bottom during the day.
South Wall - Currently holding Bigeyes, Kingfish, Tailor, Dart. Bigeyes are erratic, use metals or poppers if they come to the surface, at night stick with minnows or poppers/stickbaits. Kingfish can be found anywhere along the wall depending on the day, look for the birds figure out where they are holding and wait for them to come up. 20 gram twisties or stickbaits work on them. Tailor and dart are only found around the end of the wall, metals work the best.
Pipeline - Kingfish, Bigeyes. Wait for the fish to bust up and throw metals or stickbaits at them. Run-in tides or the first couple of hours of the run-out tides only.
Canyon and North Wavebreak - Bigeyes and GT's, Big Kingfish - Erratic, sometimes they show and sometimes they don't. Be there at sunup or the hour after for your best chance, look for bustups.
Remember that things can change by the day, so keep your eyes open and keep changing your techniques if you aren't getting anything.
Fishing the Seaway between Sunset and Sunrise can yield some excellent fishing for those who put in the effort, but just like fishing the seaway during the day, its all about where, when and how. This article will go into detail about the locations, timing, techniques and species that can be encountered fishing the seaway during the hours of darkness.
Firstly, your safety is paramount. While the area west of the pipeline is safe in all conditions, the area east of the pipeline out to the ends of the walls should only be fished at night by those with a long history of fishing the seaway during the day. In this area, tides, swell direction and wind strength all play a part in whether it is safe to fish. Unless you know how each of these factors affect the area's around the ends of the walls, then they should be avoided.
You should also be aware of other boats moving around, some boats are not adequately lit and night and it is easy to run into another boat if you are not paying attention.
All boats moving around after sunset are required to have a red/green forward facing set of lights PLUS an all round white light that cannot be blocked by anything. Water police do check these. If you are anchored then you are required to have an all-round white light. Your night vision is super important at night, if you have LED red/green lights then you should place some white tape over them to dull the output. You can also do this to your allround white if it is too bright. In cabin/gunnel LED lights are not recommended as these will destroy your night vision.
A decent headlight is recommended as this will enable you to see what is going on right in front of you, whether that be tying a knot, changing lures or netting a fish. I have tried most brands and few are capable of handing the constant exposure to salt water. The Black Diamond Storm is the only headlight I recommend at this time.
East of the Pipeline.
The North Wall
The North Wall at night can yield alot of fish if the conditions are right. Species likely to be caught at night off the North Wall include Bigeye Trevally, Mulloway, Hairtail and Tarpon. Edge fishing along the wall yields Bigeye, Hairtail and Tarpon, while letting your lure sink down closer to the bottom will pick up Mulloway. The most important area's for night fishing the North Wall are; the North Wall Flats Dropoff, The Eddy, Hairtail Reach and the Line. See the North Wall map for these.
The North Wall Flats Dropoff usually holds Bigeye Trevally in season(October through March) at night. These fish can usually be caught with poppers, with plastics or by trolling minnows like the Rapala XR10 or Flash 25 but any minnow that dives to 2-3 metres would work. Occasionally Tailor will show up along here as well.
The Eddy holds fish on a run-in tide, Bigeye's, Tarpon, Mulloway and Hairtail are all possible. Plastics on 1/2oz jigheads work the best, as you need to get it deep. As for the plastic anything around the 5-8cm mark is fine. Ecogear Grass Minnows, Squidgy Slick rigs in 65 or 80mm, ZMan Curl Tails or Pearl Sliders are all proven performers. You can cast at the wall, give it a few winds then giving the lure a bit of time to sink down deep in the water column. A slow steady retrieve works best with a few pauses, keep it slow all the way to the boat as the sometimes the fish will grab it within a couple of metres. Getting snagged is common as the entire bottom is covered in rocks.
Hairtail Reach (see map 3)only fishes well on a run-in tide, the way the tide runs in causes an eddy along this stretch of the wall and species that don't like strong tidal flows will sit in here at night. As the name suggests Hairtail like the area alot, as do Tarpon, Bigeyes and Mulloway. The best method of fishing this area is with plastics on 3/8 oz jigheads, you can go to 1/2oz if you are fishing away from the wall. Cast it at the wall and slowly wind it back to the boat with a few pauses. Poppers can also work along here if bigeyes are active. You can also troll minnows like the XRD10 & Bolt Omega along here. Eagle Ray's are also an accidental catch along here, you'll know it if you hook one of those.
The Line only exists on a run-out tide but can hold Bigeye's, Tailor, Mulloway, Tarpon and Hairtail. 3/8oz and 1/2oz jighead rigged plastics work the best at night but shallow running minnows like the Rapala XR10 and Flash 25 can also get a few fish. Cast alongside the wall and let it sink down, working it slowly back to the boat as you drift out with the tide. You can also sink it to the bottom over the dropoff and drift it along bumping it near the bottom.
The Deep Hole
Due to the high tidal flow the Deep Hole only fishes well during the first and last hour of the run in tide or on the run-out tide. Bigeyes and Mulloway will sit in the deep hole at night. Mulloway will be on the bottom but schools of Bigeyes will sit midwater on the edge of the deep hole. These Bigeyes can be trolled with diving minnows like the XRD10 and Bolt Omega, or Plastics on 1/2oz jigheads, or by dropping a heavy metal like a 30gram twistie down into the school and jigging it back up. Mulloway require plastics, livebaits or dead baits fished near the bottom.
The South Wall
The South Wall is an erratic place to fish, sometimes it can yield some excellent catches, most times it's a ghost town. Tarpon, Mulloway, Bigeye's and Hairtail can all be caught along the South Wall. At night I find it fishes the best on a run-out tide and the area from the tip of the wall to 100m in is the most consistent. Casting plastics on 1/2oz jigheads parallel to the wall letting them sink then slowly retrieving them with plenty of pauses seems to work the best as the water along the south wall is quite deep up to 14 metres in some places.. On run-in tides keep an ear out for bigeye trevally feeding along the wall particularly along the stretch from the pipeline to the tree line as sometime large schools can get along there and some excellent fishing with poppers can result.
West of the Pipeline
You can anchor up on the pipeline if you are fishing dead or livebaits but if you prefer a more active way of fishing the Pipeline you can drift over it with the tide. Plastics like the Gulp 7" Jerk Shad will pick up Mulloway near the top and bottom of the tides as the tide is slowing much the same as they will during the day. Bigeye Trevally can be found around the Pipeline feeding on the surface, sometimes on a run-in tide but more often about an hour after the tide turns to run-out. You can also troll around the Pipeline with deep diving lures like the XRD10 or Bolt Omega. If they are busting up on the surface you can use poppers like the Rapala Skitter Pop 9 or Flash Pop 8, accuracy matters so try and get that popper into the bustups as soon as possible. Shallow running minnows like the Flash 15, 25 or Rapala XR10 will also work cast near the bustups. Over to either side of the pipeline in the shallower slower moving areas, Hairtail and Tarpon are possible on 3/8th oz rigged plastics. If you anchor in these areas you can also pick up some Hairtail on dead baits.
The Canyon and North Wavebreak Rock Wall
Mulloway can be picked up in the Canyon on Plastics, livebaits or dead baits when the tide begins to slow. Other than that it's a hard spot to get a fish during the night. Around the end of the North Wall of Wavebreak, you can catch Bigeyes, Tarpon, Hairtail on plastics fished on 3/8th or 1/2oz jigheads, sometimes the bigeyes can be caught on poppers. The fish here seem to like the runout tide better, they will sit in the eddy just at the end of the wall or the channel leading directly south of it and grab the bait as it gets flushed out past the end of the wall. Other fish that can be caught in this area at night include Barracuda, Sharks, Mangrove Jacks and GT's.
Mulloway have similar behaviour at night that they do during the day, they like slower tidal movements and area's out of the main tidal flow. The hour as the tide is slowing near the top of the tide and hour as the tide is speeding up are both excellent times for Mulloway. You will also find mulloway feeding in much shallower area's during the night as the cover of darkness makes them more confident to move into area's less than 5 metres deep. If you can find area's with lots of bait out of the main tidal flow(Hairtail Reach, the ends of both walls for example) these will usually have jewies simming around under the bait and soft plastics slowly worked underneath the bait will usually pick up a couple. Just remember that you shouldn't jig or flick your soft plastic at night, a slow steady retrieve with plenty of pauses will get you plenty of strikes as the fish will track the lure for a while before hitting it. By jigging or flicking it you can move it out of the fishes view as visibility at night is restricted to a metre or so.
In the Main channel area's (Deep hole, Pipeline, Canyon)wait for the tide to slow and you can fish with vibs or big soft plastics like the 7" Gulp Jerk Shad on 1 oz heads. If you are bait fishing, you can drift with livebaits over these area's or anchor up with deadbaits of Herring, Tailor or Mullet and wait for the fish to come to you.
Mulloway in the seaway can range from 45cm soapies up to 1.8m monsters.
Bigeye Trevally are specialised nocturnal Hunters and those big eyes give them a big advantage over and baitfish in the area. That said Bigeye's are very fussy about when they actually feed. The pipeline Bigeyes love a tide that has just turned to run-out. They will often spread out during a run-out tide sometimes feeding in the Triangle, sometimes on the 3/4 line, sometimes in the middle, sometimes on the southern side of the pipeline right down to the seaway tower. If Bigeyes are feeding quite often you will hear them before you see them. If I expect Bigeyes to be feeding, I will turn off the motor and listen for 5-10 minutes, once you hear them and you have a direction you can figure out the track they are feeding on and get over there wait for them to come up and cast into a bustup. Casting accuracy matters for these feeding fish, getting a lure within a couple of metres almost guarantees a fish.
Bigeyes can also be found along the north wall from Hairtail Reach up to the tip and along the North Wall Flats dropoff. Poppers can work if they are actively feeding on surface but they are usually caught on small plastics like the Squidy Slick Rig 70mm, Ecogear Grass Minnow M fished on 3/8oz heads. When Bigeyes sit along the North Wall Flats Dropoff you can troll them up using Rapala XRD10 & XR10, Flash 25 or any other small minnow that dives 1.5-3m. You can also pick them up on poppers here when they are active. Run-in tides are best for North Wall Bigeye Trevally.
The North Wall of Wavebreak Corner will also hold schools of Bigeyes during the night at times but these tend to be much smaller fish on average around 25-30cm, these fish respond well to small soft plastics, or small poppers. These fish prefer to feed on a run-out tide as well.
Bigeyes in the seaway can range from 20cm babies to 70+ cm fully grown adults but the average size is around 45cm.
Hairtail are a bit of an enigma, sometimes they will show in the seaway in big numbers and can be picked up on soft plastics and trolled minnows. They like slower moving tidal area's like Hairtail Reach(Run-in tide only), The ends of the walls on a run-out tide, the North Wall Eddy on a run-in tide and the end of the North Wall of Wavebreak on a run-out tide. Officially a winter species, sometimes they will show up in the middle of summer. They can also be taken on live-baits and dead baits of Pilchard, Herring and Tailor. They are an unpredictable fish but are a welcome addition to the seaway's nocturnal feeders.
Hairtail range in size from 50cm up to 1.5 metres.
Other fish that can be caught at night in the seaway include GT's, Snapper, Mangrove Jacks, Flathead, Cod, other reef species, Barracuda, Tailor, Shovelnose Sharks, Bull Sharks and Bream. Other than the Bream which can be caught on lightly weighted baits and the Bull Sharks(Large dead baits of fish or Eel), these fish are a random event and cannot be targeted successfully.
Livebaiting in the seaway at night is almost exactly the same as it it is during the day, fish the top and bottom of the tides when they begin to slow. The amount of species likely to be caught decreases and it can pick up a few of the random species like Cod and Mangrove Jacks. Mulloway are the number one species caught on livebaits at night. For more information on livebaiting read Livebaiting the Seaway - the Ultimate Edition
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.
I thought I'd keep track of how we are fairing against the Kingfish this summer, this list includes everyone I know who has hooked a Kingfish and includes bustoffs and landed fish. So far the list is entirely in the Kingfish favour. If there are any mistakes let me know and I'll fix them up. Also Let me know if a fish you have hooked is not on the list. The list is confined to lure or fly caught/hooked fish only.
Loss.. busted off
Fly - White Silver
Fly - Pink White
Loss busted off
Old Mans Corner
Loss - busted off
Fly - White Red
Loss - busted off
North Wavebreak Rock Wall
Fly - White Pink
Loss - Busted off
North Wavebreak Rock Wall
Loss - Busted off
North Wavebreak Rock Wall
Little Jack Seguroid
Loss - hook straightened
North Wavebreak Rock Wall
Loss - Bustoff
Loss - Hooks straightened at the boat.
Loss - Bustoff after 40 mins
Hooked near first set beacons north of Wavebreak, lost in Canyon
Kane with a number of good reports posted this month. Kane wins a ANSA Catch and Release Mat. Bit of a tough month overall, probably the worst October I've seen. Some Tailor, a few small kingfish and that's pretty much it. Lets hope November brings in a few more species and some more varied weather.
The reports competition has been discontinued as of November, you can still post your reports but there won't be any prizes. Just remember the more you share the more you will get out of it. I will continue to post reports/weekly wrap ups and Fish Alerts if something good(and catchable) ever shows up.
Part of successful fishing the seaway is knowing where to be at what time. Certain species will start feeding according to tidal and other influences and if you are there then some good fishing can result. With the use of basic formulas we can work out the feeding times for certain species in certain area's and predict certain behaviour.
Firstly and most importantly we need to accurately work out the tides. The official tides are laughably inaccurate in terms of actual tidal flow which as fisherman we are most interested in.
Over to the right we have a single days tides, these are the official tides for the Gold Coast Seaway on Wednesday 30th October 2013. The first column represents times of day, the second represents how big or small the tide is.
To get the actual tide we need to apply some basic mathematics to each value. To get the start of the run in you need to add 1.5 - 2 hours to the bottom of the official tide. In this case the official Low tide is at 10.52am so the start of the run in will be between 12.20pm and 12.50pm. It is impossible to get more accurate than a half hour window as it is determined by the amount of tidal flow on the day. The smaller the tide, the sooner after the official Low tide the water will begin to run in. The larger the tide(around the Full and New moons) the later after the offical Low tide the tide will start to run in.
To get the actual end of the run in tide, the tide will start to slow 15-20 minutes after the official top of the tide(17.03pm) so around 17.20pm it will start to slow and the tide won't start to run out until around 1 hour after the official top of the tide....so around 18.00pm.
To summarise... Add 1.5-2 hours to the official bottom of the tide to get the start of the run-in. Add 1 hour to the official top of the tide to get the start of the run-out. Smaller the tide add less time, bigger the tide add more.
The GT Tide
The GT tide was originally formulated as the perfect tide for GT surface feeding, but it can be applied to all surface feeding fish. Basically it is a tide that begins to run-in in the time between first light and the hour after. This is a good tide is because all the baitfish are pushed out of the seaway on the run-out tide and they hang around the dirty/clean water lines waiting to go back in with the tide. When this happens within the dawn timeframe you have two elements coming together, the dawn bite plus masses of baitfish entering the seaway which usually means some excellent surface fishing action during the dawn period and sometimes the hours after. GT's love it, as do bigeyes and kingfish.
To work out the GT tide you need to add 1.5-2 hours to the bottom of the tide to get the start of the run-in as discussed above. The GT tide usually only happens once or twice every two weeks. Over to our right we have three days which would be suitable for GT tide status. Right now(end of October) first light is at 4am sharp so the Monday tide with a forecast Low at 2.56am should have the tide pushing in at approximately 4.30-5am which is just about perfect. As there is only 30 minutes between the tidal differences on consecutive days you could go a day earlier on the sunday, though I suspect Tuesdays may be a bit too late.
Due to the fact that dawn is at a different time in different season's you need to adjust the time that causes that perfect run-in tide. During winter for example as first light isn't until around 6am, a perfect GT tide woul be one that has an official Low around 4 - 4.30am. Over summer first light is around 3.45am so look for tides with official Low's around 2.30 -3am.
When they are around, Giant Trevally are the most predictable fish in the seaway. Earlier this year using a basic formula I was able to predict within a 30 minute window of when GT's would begin to feed on surface if the tides were suitable. Basically, I would add 2 hours to the official bottom of the tide to get the start of the run-in, then add an hour for the clean water to get to the Canyon. Anywhere within the next half hour after that the GT's would begin to feed on surface.
Over to the right we have a selection of tides I would have picked as ideal for GT's earlier on in the year. Using the formula of adding 3 hours to the official bottom of the tide, the GT's would begin to feed around 7am on Thursday, 8am on Friday and 9am on the Saturday.
You can also use basic formula's to predict when GT's would start taking trolled lures as well, but you need tides as well as time of day. Afternoons tend to work a bit better and the top half of the run-in and first half of the run-out worked the best for trolling and by using a formula of 1.5 hours before sunset you can predict within a 30 minute window of when schooled GT's would take trolled lures. Using both of these formula's I was able to predict GT feeding behaviour and have some excellent sessions.
Bigeye Trevally have been very erratic this year but I have worked out some nocturnal feeding patterns for them around the pipeline, daytime is too erratic to predict. At night you are looking for half an hour after the start of the runout tide. Using the tidal formula above we can deduce that on Saturday the 9th the Official Low tide is 19.35pm. To get the start of the run-out tide we add an hour so around 20.35 plus add another half an hour to an hour for the fish to get organised. So they would start to feed anywhere between 21.00pm and 21.30pm.
Tarpon had similar behaviour to the Bigeye Trevally but in different locations and on both the run-in and run-out tides. By adding 30 minutes to an hour to the start of the actual run-in and run-out tides I could predict within a certain time frame of when they would begin to feed. The main difference between the Bigeyes and Tarpon is that the Tarpon moved around alot more so you still had to find them even though you had a fairly accurate window of when they would begin to feed.
Mulloway are a very predictable fish, they mainly feed when the tide is slowing down or speeding up. So using the tidal formula we know that Mulloway will feed around 1.5-2 hours after the official bottom of the tide, just as that tide starts to push in the seaway. They will also feed at the top end of the tide just as the tide starts to slow, so I would start fishing just before the official top of the tide to get the time when the tide begins to slow. The start of the run-out is also a feeding time for them so add 1 hour after the official top of the tide to get the start of the run out and fish for the next hour. Dawn and dusk are also important, if you can coincide Dawn with a slowing or speeding up tide your chances of cathing bigger fish are increased.
Kingfish are very random and it has been hard to work out any patterns or formula's for them. The small ones that have been hanging around the pipe tend to feed best 2 hours after the official top of the tide, but they are easily shut down. The big ones are much too random to get any sort of pattern going.
Obviously if you are constrained by work and family commitments and you can only go fishing on one day out of 7 then you are going to do it tougher than those who can pick and choose the days to fish. By checking the tides and using these formula's on the days you can actually fish, you can make the best of what time you do have on the water. If you do fish a day when none of the tides are right then I recommend just doing a bunch of random stuff in the hope that some odd fish behaviour present's itself. Every now and again you'll come across something worthwhile. Last Decembers 70cm+ GT's feeding well after sunup on the bottom of the run-out for example.
Welcome to the SeawayFishing Lure Reference Guide Part 4 - Surface Lures. Here you can find details of all the lures that I and others use when fishing in the seaway. If you see a lure mentioned in a report look it up here, all these lures have caught fish in the seaway. This page will be updated as new lures are found. Lures are listed in found order. If you have a lure you think should be included let me know.
So you have had your Seaway lure tutorial and still think you need a bit more help or have forgotten some of it? Want to give yourself the best chance for the just starting Summer Surface Season and Edge fishing Seasons. I am now offering SeawayFishing refresher courses for only $250.00.
The seaway is made up of 2 major rock walls, 2 minor rock walls, a mostly sandy bottom with a few select areas of heavy rock bottom structure. Each area is different and knowing what the structure is like can put you ahead of the game and give you a better idea on how to fish it effectively without losing too many lures. This article covers 4 area's and includes underwater video footage and screenshots taken when water visibility was around 15 metres. Any areas that are missing I currently don't have footage for, they will be added when conditions permit. If you want to take your seaway fishing to the next level, I highly recommend spending some time watching the video to get an idea of the areas you are fishing.
The following image shows where each section of footage was taken.
1. The South Wall Tip
The South Wall Tip doesn't have any rocky structure once you get away from the wall, though there is a deep sandy hole approximately 50m off the northern end of the tip which is 8 metres deep and sometimes holds fish. The majority of fish hang around the area where the rocks meet the sand so you need to fish fairly close to the wall, within 10 metres in most areas. Use your sounder to locate the area where the rocks meet the sand and fish around there with plastics on the bottom. As the tip area gets alot of wave action the rocks off the tip have cunjevoi and barnacles right down to the sand, this means the chance of snagging is high so use caution if you are casting around the tip.
The south wall tip showing the area where the rocks meet the sand
South Wall Inside edge approximately 10 in from the tip
South Wall Tip Fish Eye View Video
2. North Wall Line to One Tree
The North Wall Line is a sandy dropoff area with a few rocks that holds alot of fish, schools of luderick, trevally, tailor, mulloway and more will hold along this dropoff on both run-in and run-out tides.
The North Wall Line Dropoff showing a school of Luerick, Bream and Trevally holding along the edge.
The Tabletop Edge(the Bottom of the Face) is the North Western edge of the deep hole. It is made up of large boulders and sandy patches. Between these boulders is the occasional stick and weed patch. Fish will hang in the eddies between these boulders so getting as close to them as you can without snagging up will get you more fish.
The front edge of the tabletop
The edge of the deep hole along the face
The Deep Hole is made up of mainly sand patches with a few areas of rubbly coffee rock bottom.
North Wall Tip to One Tree
3. One Tree to Hairtail Reach
One Tree to Hairtail Reach is sandy bottom once you get away from the wall edge with just the very occasional piece of coffee rock, most fish seem to hang along the area where the rocks meet the sand but some schools of Trevally will hang out a bit further. As this area is quite shallow(4-8m) it tends to only fish well at night or when there is a large swell that provides wash cover.
The area where the rocks meet the sand opposite the sign on the north wall.
The area where the rocks meet the sand in Hairtail Reach
One Tree to Hairtail Reach
4. Northern Y North to Canyon Edge
The Northern Y North to the Canyon edge is made up of coffee rock and sand patches, there are large jagged edges, holes and valleys in this rocky bottom making it an ideal fish holding and feeding area. The edge of the Canyon itself is made up of rock which has splintered and has formed some sharp dropoffs. Away from the Canyon edge rubbly patches of rock take over again until mid way along the Canyon where it turns into a sandy bottom.
Mid section of the Northern Y showing the rugged bottom.
Where the Canyon starts to taper down on its eastern most point
The southern most edge of the canyon has a few sharp edged dropoffs.