Underwater and above water footage of some of the fish life in and around the Gold Coast Seaway and Wavebreak.
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.
Red Gold Skitterbaits are currently 50% off(only $7.50) in the SeawayFishing Shop
Silver Redhead is sold out but all other colours including the classic Black Redhead are in stock.
A few fish from last summer..
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.
Please make sure you have read Birdwatching - Observing Bird Behaviour to Find Fish as the concepts discussed in that article are integral to your ability to find surface feeding fish and are related to what is discussed in this article.
The reason why big fish push bait to the surface
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:
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.
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.
See also the Those Troublesome Yellowtail Kingfish article.
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.
See also Giant Trevally in the Seaway - The Ultimate Guide
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.
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.
For more information on catching Tailor see the Seaway Tailor Fishing Overview
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.
For more information on catching Tarpon see the So You Want To Catch a Seaway Tarpon Article.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tarpon are covered in detail in the So You Want To Catch A Seaway Tarpon Article so refer to that for more information.
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
Giant Trevally or GT’s are the second most common Trevally species in the Seaway but are the largest, most sought after and one of the hardest fighting. This article covers everything I know about Giant Trevally so far.... Where and when to look, how to catch them and with what.
Giant Trevally can be caught all year round though they are much more common from January to June. They will feed at all water levels depending on their mood on the day, if there is lots of bait around they will feed on surface. January through to May sees the larger fish holding in the seaway in big numbers and once an active school is found some excellent fishing can result though bite times tend to be short.
Active vs Non Active
Active Giant Trevally are those hunting food, they do this for only a couple of hours a day, usually at dawn or dusk but if there is lots of bait they will feed according to the tides with the second half of the run in tide being the most consistent time. Non Active fish are those schooled up and not feeding, usually in The Canyon, over The Pipeline or in the North Wall Deep Hole. Non active fish usually do not eat anything though you might be able to tempt the odd fish with a finesse plastic or a livebait. When a school has become active they usually move away from their holding area's and into feeding areas. GT's holding in the Canyon will move into the Northern Y and Northern Channel, GT's holding on the pipeline will move into the triangle or the eastern seaway channel, GT's holding in the Deep Hole will move in front of the north wall, along the dropoff or into the eastern channel. I have also tracked them moving from the end of the north wall right through to the Northern Y before they decided to feed.
Giant Trevally Movements
Giant Trevally have specific movement and behavioural patterns within the seaway area. While there are still a few unknown area’s where they disappear to for a few days I have mapped out a fairly decent range of movements for them. There are fairly well defined hold and feeding area's though they sometimes overlap.
GT Holding Area's Daytime
GT Holding Area's Night-Time
GT Feeding Area's
Giant Trevally feed in a number of ways, when they are chasing baitfish on the surface one GT will take a leading position, with others trailing behind it. Several fish will attack the prey school, striking and stunning the prey, while the bulk of the school helps disorient the bait. Some fish act individually and opportunistically within the school if one of the baitfish becomes isolated, the main advantage of schooling is the ability to further break up and isolate baitfish schools. Giant Trevally will generally only feed on the surface when there are large schools of baitfish around. This can happen anywhere within the Seaway and Broadwater.
The North Wall
GT’s can be found all around the north wall, but they feed in different ways and in different areas according to the tide and time of day. Edge fishing usually only yields the odd fish on poppers, stickbaits and minnows in the early mornings or late afternoons. Casting a vib or a metal onto the flats on the northern side in the mornings and bringing back over the dropoff can be an excellent technique if theres a bit of swell running, they won't be sitting there if its calm. GT's will often sit at the base of the rear swell on the North Wall Flats and a twistie dropped to the bottom is often eaten on the drop. During a runout, the GT's will sit in the deep hole area, these fish are usually taken on livebaits and plastics but metals can be used as well if you can find a school. At night on a runout tide GT’s will often sit on the bottom in a large flat school approximately 100m out in front of the north wall tip in 9 metres of water. These fish can be tempted by very slow rolling plastics like the Squidgy Slick rigs in 65mm or Zman 2.5" Curl Tails through the school. Surface feeding fish are rare around the North Wall but occasionally schools will pop up around the front of the wall or in the channel between the walls if a school of baitfish comes through, just keep an eye out for any birds flying around. Schools of Giant trevally can also hold further out along the eastern dropoff(The Line) than most fish, 50m away from the eastern end of the wall is a good place to start looking.
The South Wall
The South Wall fishes best for GT’s when there is a bit of swell running, unfortunately its also very difficult to fish from a boat and get your lure in the zone because of the way the swell hits the wall. Metals cast from a safe distance can yield some good fish but you need long distance casting gear for that, even then you still won't get close enough. You can fish along the walls with vibs and plastics, just bump them along the bottom with an occasional twitch. there is a 14 metre drop-off approximately 20m out from the wall where the GT's will sometimes sit, plastics flicked through this area can pick up a few fish. During a run-out tide when there is no swell its worth dropping a lure down on the current line leading out from the wall as sometimes small schools hold in that area.
The Pipeline and The Triangle
The Pipeline is one of the area's Giant Trevally will hold when they are not feeding, it can hold hold massive schools of hundreds of Giant Trevally at times. Giant Trevally will hold here until a school of baitfish comes through then they will move away from the pipe and bust the surface in huge numbers. When this happens 30gram twisties(or other slugs/metals) and poppers thrown into the school usually hookup. You can also try dropping metals, plastics or vibs down next to the pipeline and retrieving them quickly back to the surface. A livebait drifted over the top of the pipe during the run in tide usually picks up a GT or two. You should keep an eye on the area just west of the pipe as well(The Triangle), as small schools will often move off the pipe and sit 20-50m off the pipe on a run in tide. For these fish, 30 gram twisties or microjigs dropped to the bottom will often pick up a few fish.
The Northern Y
The Northern Y is a Giant Trevally feeding area. If they are in this area they are usually in feeding mode and you can catch them on trolled lures, metals, plastics or poppers if they are super active. They can be found anywhere within this area but prefer sitting around the rocky areas in the northern middle and to the eastern side of the channel. You are more likely to get GT's in the Northern Y during the Dawn or Dusk periods.
Wavebreak Island & The Canyon
The Canyon is a deep trench that runs east and north from the end of the North Wavebreak Wall for approximately 100 metres, large schools of Giant Trevally will often hold along the edges of the canyon and in the canyon itself. Similar to the pipeline the GT's will hold here until a school of baitfish comes through then move out of the canyon and bust the surface. You can troll along or over this area with deep diving minnows that dive to 4m+ or drop plastics down into the school and poppers cast around can often bring a fish up from the bottom. The best areas to troll are the edges of the canyon particularly the most eastern edge roughly halfway across the channel.
The Northern Channel
The Northern Channel is a GT feeding area, from the southern end near Wavebreak to the Northern end around Crab Island, GT's will feed anywhere in this area depending on the bait around. It is impossible to predict when they will decide to feed in this area, I have seen them do it at various times of the day and throughout all stages of tide. You just need to keep an eye on it and look for any bird or fish activity.
The Seaworld Deep Hole
The Seaworld Deep Hole sometimes holds small schools of big GT's, these fish usually only feed just on dawn as the sun just peeps over the horizon or just on the top of the tide and usually only for 10 minutes or so. They can feed anywhere from the area near the boat ramp out to the channel. Just keep an eye out for any bustups or bird activity , as they will know when the GT's are active.
Lures and Techniques
Slugs and slices account for a decent percentage of GT captures. 20-30gram Twisties, Spanyid Raiders, Surecatch Knights, Gillies Baitfish and Pilchards all work when thrown into a school of feeding fish. The important thing to remember with slugs cast at feeding GT's is to keep the speed slow to moderate, fast retrieve's (especially on high speed reels)tend not to get hit as the GT's can't keep up, they are fast but they aren't tuna. Metals can also be jigged vertically through schools of fish. Drop them to the bottom and slowly wind it up to the surface works, as does dropping it down do a fast rip for about 5 metres then sinking it back down and repeat, you can also to 5 fast jigs in a row then let it drift back down. A long cast letting it sink to the bottom and winding it back at a moderate speed is also an excellent technique.
These are the metals proven to work on GT's:
Trolling works exceptionally well on GT's in the seaway. Deep diving lures are needed with a minimum of 3 metres depth, but 4 metres plus is recommended for most areas. The best lures are the Bolt Omega, Rapala Magnum 15 and Maria Deep Snare but most deep diving lures will work. Trolling can work during the day particularly on a run in tide but the best trolling times are between dawn and the couple of hours after, and 3pm and dusk regardless of tide. Trolling around the Northern Y and Canyon, over the Pipeline and around the North Wall are the best area's for trolling for GT's. See the Trolling the Seaway Article for more information on Trolling.
These are the lures proven to work so far on trolled GT's:
Poppers and Stickbaits
Poppers can work very well on GT's if they are active. I have seen GT's come up off the bottom in 8 metre's of water to hit a popper, this is quite common around the Canyon and the Northern Y channel right next to it. A popper thrown into a bust-up is usually eaten very quickly, especially during low light periods. There are two methods that work quite well, you can just do a straight retrieve at a medium to fast speed or you can do a blooping retrieve. The 3 Bloop Pause is the technique I use the most. Smaller stickbait's like the Cultiva Tango Dancer or the Atomic K9 Bulldog seem to work reasonably well once the sun is up, but big poppers seem to be the go for dawn/dusk. Stickbait's are usually worked with a Walk the Dog type retrieve, basically wiggling the tip as you retrieve and the stickbait should pop from side to side. You can also just wind them straight in. You can work larger stickbaits like the Saltiga Dorado Slider with a far more aggressive jerking retrieve. Don’t forget to pause it occasionally as many fish will hit them on a pause.
Poppers and Stickbait's that are proven to work with GT's:
Soft Plastic's work okay on GT's and work fairly well at picking up random fish when you are prospecting. Plastics like the Gulp Jerkshads in any of the sizes, Zman 3" MinnowZ, Squidgy Slick Rigs in 65 & 85mm will all work. When you are prospecting for GT's a simple triple flick with the rod and then let it sink back down works fine. When they are feeding on surface during the middle of the day and refuse to hit any metals or poppers, split shot rigged Flash J’s in Glow Silver will work but any decent baitfish imitation plastic would do. Cast the plastic into the school and let it sit for a few seconds before giving it a slight flick then let it sit, then another flick. You are trying to imitate a dying baitfish so keep the erratic movements to a minimum. Working a plastic through the bottom sulking fish in daytime holding area's sometimes picks up a fish or two, but don’t expect too many that way.
Soft Plastics that are proven to work with GT's:
Vibs or Vibrating Lures can be a very effective lure for GT's at times as they sink fast and stay down deep. On a medium speed retrieve they stay close to the bottom and heavy vibs(30gm+) can even be trolled effectively around the North Wall and Northern Y. The best area's for vib's are around the pipeline, down in the Canyon and on the North Wall Flats. You can cast them out and do a slow lift and drop retrieve, or do a fast burn with a couple of pauses back to the boat. You can jig them vertically just using a slow lift and drop or up the pace with a fast jig 5 times in a row before you drop it back down. While Vibs are not used as commonly as other lures, they are still very effective at catching GT's.
Vibs that are proven to work with GT's:
Giant trevally are a reasonably common catch on livebaits. Any livies will work but pike and yellowtail are my preferred baits. The Runway, the Deep Hole and the Pipeline are the best spots for livebaiting GT’s. With the Pipeline, drift the livebait approximately 6 metres down, Giant Trevally will dart up from their holding position on the pipe to grab it as it drifts past on a run-in tide. On the Runway and Deep Hole, keep your baits around 1 metre off the bottom for best results. See the Livebaiting the Seaway article for more information on Livebaiting.
GT's are not afraid of big lures, I have caught alot of fish this year on large Poppers(River2Sea Bubble Pop 130) and minnows as large as the Rapala Magnum 20(14cm). These larger lures tend to work better than small lures in low light situations around dawn or dusk or on the bottom of the runout tides during the day. Size of lure doesn't seem to make a difference on the size of GT you get, I've caught small GT's on big lures and vice versa.
We have certainly seen more GT's caught in 2013 than in any other year but there is still a way to go before the complete story of the seaway GT's is revealed. Where they disappear to I don't know, but I continue to gather information about movements and behaviour in the hope of completing the puzzle. If you have anything else to add let me know below.
Birds are the fisherman's eyes in the sky, by observing their behaviour they can lead you to fish before anybody else knows whats happening. This article will cover the types of birds found in the broadwater and seaway, their holding areas, what to look for and what to ignore.
There are 4 main types of birds in the seaway and broadwater . Terns, Seagulls, Cormorants and Pelicans. Of these 4 only one is of real interest to fisherman, that is the Tern.
The Common Tern is distinguishable by a sharp beak and a black head, grey wings and white body. Terns are the fisherman’s eyes in the sky, they can see fish feeding on surface from a long way off and send out scouts even further that will communicate with the main flock if a school of fish pops up and there are easy pickings to be had. Terns will also only eat small fish, so they won’t waste time picking up rubbish like seagulls do. Terns also have exceptional eyesight into the water, they are capable of tracking fish 3-4 metres under the water and often will do so until the fish push the bait up to the surface where the terns can make easy pickings. Giant Trevally, Yellowtail Kingfish, Bigeye Trevally, Tailor, Queenfish, Tuna, Dart and Australian Salmon are the main species that terns can track. Terns are in the broadwater and seaway year round.
Seagulls will also get involved in a feast, if there are big schools of baitfish around that are near the surface and easy to catch seagulls will be there, likewise if there is a big school of fish feeding for a few minutes seagulls will join in. Seagulls however will also spend alot of time eating rubbish around scum lines. They are worth keeping an eye on but generally if there are no terns about they are just eating rubbish.
Cormorants are large black birds with long necks, they are in the broadwater and seaway year round but will occasionally show up in flocks of hundreds of birds. Cormorants are superb fish hunters and do not need fish to push bait up to the surface as they are quite able to get down 10 metres under the water to catch fish themselves. When the large flocks arrive they spend most of their time pushing bait into the shallows, if you see this behaviour its best to ignore it, there usually isn’t any large fish around. Occasionally they will join in a big feast if fish are pushing bait up to the surface for a while, generally if cormorants join in the fish are hunting alot and there is alot of surface feeding so they abandon their normal method of feeding in favour of easy pickings.
Pelicans are the largest and slowest of the bird species in the broadwater but they have limited uses to the fisherman, they will get involved if the bait is thick and easy to catch and they will occasionally join in a feeding frenzy if it lasts for a while. Like the cormorant, an indicator for the level of fish feeding activity on the day.
So those are the 4 main species of birds to be aware of, the Tern is the most important and that is the one we will focus on for the rest of the article.
Terns have specific behaviour that will tell you what they are doing, the 5 main types are sipping, tracking, watching, dive bombing and hovering. I will go through each of these as being able to tell what they are doing is very important to being in the right place at the right time.
Sipping – Sipping bait is the term I use for Terns that are picking free swimming bait off the surface, usually this bait is only schooled up loosely and there are no fish hunting the bait underneath. You will see this behaviour more than any others in the seaway and broadwater. Generally it is a sign of plenty of bait around but not much else. Terns that are sipping fly low to the water and generally swoop in at a shallow angle to pick the bait off, think of it as like a wave action. At the top of the wave the tern is scouting for bait, once he see’s it he swoops in and grabs the bait at the bottom of the wave. The action is more horizontal than vertical. If I see terns sipping bait, I’ll have a quick look but generally won’t waste much time on them.
Tracking – Terns that are tracking large fish under the water will be flying along horizontally anywhere from 5-10 metres above the water with their heads pointed straight down into the water. The deeper the fish are the higher the terns will be, and conversely the closer the fish get to the surface the closer the terns will fly to the water.. I have followed terns that were obviously tracking fish for nearly a kilometre before the fish popped up to the surface. You can try and pre-empt this by getting in front of the terns and making a cast to intercept the fish below, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Once the terns start false dive bombing(they vertically dive towards the water but pull up at the last minute) you know the fish will be up in a matter of seconds so get within casting distance.
Dive Bombing & Hovering – Terns use vertical dive bombs to get bait that gets stunned or disorientated while fish are feeding on them. They will usually fly up 2-5 metres in the air, then vertically dive into the school of feeding fish. This vertical attack pattern is the surest sign of feeding fish that can be seen from quite a distance away. If the feeding is really thick they will hover half a meter above the fish and pick up bait as it gets disorientated.
The sentinels(watching) are terns located in strategic locations that are looking for any sign of fish feeding. As soon as the sentinels see any feeding fish they will communicate it to the rest of the flock and the mass of birds will take off at once and head towards the action. Its like a big neon sign saying "fish are over there ", but it is surprising how many fisherman ignore it. If the fish are not coming up for long you may get a number of false starts where the birds take off then circle around and land back on the bank/beacon. Watch them carefully when they take off to see if they are heading towards fish, if the flock breaks up some head off in one direction, others circle around and land then it was a false start. If they all take off and head in one direction then they are most likely heading for fish. Sentinel locations are as follows:
Birds are an important part of any savvy fisherman's arsenal of fish finding techniques, they are smart airborne hunters whose life depends on finding the food they eat so they are exceptionally good at it. They can show you where fish are feeding and be an early warning indicator of fish activity if only you take the trouble to watch them.
Livebaiting is a consistent method of catching large fish in the seaway, this Ultimate Edition will cover absolutely everything to know about livebaiting in the seaway and keep it in one place as an easy reference guide. Some parts have already been listed as separate articles but I have updated and integrated each one to reflect the latest information.
Livebaiting gear doesn't need to be fancy or expensive, all you are doing is dropping baits to the bottom and fighting the fish up to the boat. Most reasonable 4000 size spinning reels will do the job, just make sure it has a decent drag and can fit about 300m of line on it, the penn spinfisher line is affordable and reliable. You can also use overhead reels as well, I use a Daiwa LD50H overhead for my heavy livebaiting duties. You can go as heavy or as light as you want on the line but sooner or later you are going to hook a fish that will bust you off in the rocks and you are going to want heavier gear. I use 30lb for small livies like herring and go up to 50lb for big livebaits like tailor and pike, even on this gear some fish still make it back to the rocks or back to the pipe. As for rods, keep it short 6ft is ideal but you can go up to 7ft without too many problems. There is no need for high modulus (IM8+rods) in livebaiting, IM6 or even fibreglass rods will do the job. You might want to make sure you have a rod with a bit of backbone though as hooking large Whitespot Shovelnose and bull sharks is common and these require a rod with some power down low. Medium Heavy rated rods are ideal.
Good quality live baits are often harder to catch than the bigger fish and it can take hours to catch enough for a couple of hours fishing. This part will detail most of the livebaits that can be used, how to catch them and where you might find them. Livebaits are like any fish, they come and they go so numbers are constantly fluctuating. Always have a backup plan if you can't find any of your chosen livebait.
My favourite livebait and one of the biggest livebaits with an average size around 30cm. Size can be an issue, 40cm plus models are usually only taken by big fish such as metre long kingies and mulloway. Smaller fish such as Tailor and Trevally prefer the smaller models around 30cm. Pike can be caught around any of the weedbeds of the broadwater, particularly the weedbeds around Wavebreak and Crab island and the weedbeds at the mouth of Loder’s Creek & western side of South Stradbroke Island. Unfortunately between May and September these weedbeds are netted on a weekly basis by the mullet netters and pike are rare during this time. You can catch them on small minnows (rapala XR6 & XR4) & small plastics (2 inch curl tails or paddle tails)on light jigheads. Try trolling a minnow around until you find the school, then throw plastics at them. The top half of the tide is the best time to get them. Pike can be caught around bridges and lighted jetties at night using small minnows or plastics but its not something you can rely on unless you find a decent sized school that stays in the same area. Good places to look are The Broadwater Parklands Jetty, The Grand Hotel Ramp, Marina Mirage Refueling Station and Sunrise Bridge. If all else fails, trolling through the canal estates around runaway bay or around Marina Mirage with a shallow running minnow such as an Rapala XR6 can pick up a couple of large ones.
Pike can also be caught offshore on the shallow bait reefs, sometimes during the day but more often at night. You can get them on 3" Gulp minnows on 1/2 oz jigheads, small minnows attached to trolling sinkers, or large profile bait jigs. You can also catch them on any flesh baits or white pilchards. They are a different species but the fish still like them just as much, getting small ones can be a challenge though, the average size can be around 45cm. The offshore pike also require alot of water changes as the water fouls quickly so keep an eye on them to make sure you don’t lose your hard earned baits.
Yellowtail & Slimy Mackerel
Yellowtail & Slimies are usually only found offshore on the shallow bait reefs but sometimes you can get them around the ends of the walls. Usually caught on the 6 hook bait jigs, they can also be caught on baits of peeled prawn and any fish flesh. They are much easier to catch at dawn than during the day or at night. Most fish will eat a yellowtail or slimy mackerel and GT’s in particular have a big liking for them. Weather permitting Yellowtail are probably the easiest of the livebaits to catch, slimies are alot harder to catch and not something you can rely on. Look for the other boats east of the sand pumping jetty in 20-24m of water to find the shallow bait reefs. GPS Coordinates for the best bait reef section I know is as follows: S 27. 57 .013 E 153. 27. 000. Do a drift around that area and you will find the bait.
The first thing to remember with sea mullet is that they do have a size limit of 30cm so don’t keep any small sea mullet in your livewell. You can use small yellow eye or sand mullet though, if you can’t tell the difference better not to use them at all. Mullet are very hardy and will last forever in your livewell, they aren’t quite as good a livie as the first two but better than nothing. Mulloway and cod will still happily take a live mullet of any size, but will hold them in the mouth for a while to descale them before swallowing, the fish spitting the bait is common. For this reason, Mullet are usually a last option for me. The best chance of getting live mullet is in a cast net, try in any of the canal estates close to the seaway. You can catch sand mullet on a hook baited with bread, just berley them up in places like Loder's Creek and Biggera Creek and use a size 12 hook with a small bit of bread under a float.
Herring can be caught around jetties and bridges, cast nets are preferred but they can also be berleyed up with bread and caught on bait jigs. Herring are probably the most used livebait in the seaway but they do attract bream all the time which is annoying. They do catch good fish though; Tailor, Trevally and Jewies will happily eat them. Useful if you can’t catch anything else and still better than mullet. The best places to find herring are Biggera Creek Bridge, Sunrise Bridge, Sovereign and Ephraim Bridges, Occasionally in the eddies around the Wavebreak rock walls, Grand Hotel Ramp and the pontoon at The Seaworld Ramp.
Hardyheads, White pilchards & Frogmouth Pilchards
These small baitfish have limited uses in the seaway but can be useful for catching tarpon, trevally or tailor. Numbers of these fish are seasonal and tend to hang around different places every year so its pretty much as case of catch them when you find them. Most of these fish can only be caught with a cast net, but hardyheads can be berleyed up with bread and caught on bait jigs.
Squid are an ideal livie and you can catch them around lighted areas at night particularly if there is a bit of weed and rubbly bottom, such as the Broadwater Parklands Jetty, the Grand Hotel Jetty and the lighted area's near Ephraim Island. The only problem is they wont last in a livewell and die quickly so use them quick if you get them. Even as a dead bait they are pretty good though. Kingfish will rarely refuse a live squid.
Tailor are useful as a livie for big Mulloway, Kingfish and Sharks but make sure you use its over the legal size of 35cm, check the Tailor fishing article for more hints on those.
Decent sized Prawns are a good livie as well, but there’s nowhere near the seaway you can catch them regularly. Occasionally they will show up just at the end of the north wall at night on a runout tide and you can use a net to scoop them up. Using a red light will help you see the eyes of the prawn without spooking them. Most fish will hit a prawn but Jewies seem to particularly like them.
Silverbiddies also have a good reputation, cast netting around sandbanks are the main way of catching them, but the bigger models can be caught on peeled prawns and small hooks.
Garfish are also a very good bait, and Kingfish love them almost as much as they do pike. You can catch them around the weedbeds on the western side of the broadwater, around Runaway Bay and put down some bread or bran berley with some tuna oil and fish with small no. 12 hooks baited with prawn or squid under a float. They will also sit in large schools on the North Wall Flats on run out tides at night if the swell isn't too big. You can cast net them if they are thick.
With a long livebait like pike two hooks are essential, the top hook goes through the top and bottom of the mouth and the bottom hook goes above the backbone along the back ensuring the line between the two hooks is loose enough for the pike to swim naturally. Hook sizes range from 6/0 for small pike up to 30cm to 8/0 for the 45cm plus versions.
Mullet have a very hard top of the mouth and a very soft bottom of the mouth so you can hook them through the top of the mouth if you can work your hook through the bone. You can also hook them just behind the head and down near the tail above the backbone. Hook sizes range from 6/0 for small mullet up to 20cm to 9/0 for 40cm+ mullet.
Herring & Silverbiddies
Herring are best hooked with a single hook through the nose. With very large herring you can go to a double hook rig, once through the nose and the other just in front of the tail. Hook sizes range from 2/0 for small herring around 6cm long up to 4/0 for very large herring 10cm+
Yellowtail & Slimy Mackerel
Yellowtail and slimies can be used with a single or double hook rig, with a single hook it should be placed in the nose if you are fishing in high tidal flow or just below the dorsal fin if fishing in an eddy. With a double hook rig, the top hook goes in the nose, the bottom hook goes just before the tail above the backbone. Ideal hook sizes are 3/0- 5/0 for Yellowtail and 6/0 for Slimy Mackerel
As a long bait and prone to attacks by tailor, the two hook north wall trace is recommended. Break the beak off and place the top hook through the start of the beak and the second hook through the back above the backbone. I deal hook sizes for garfish are 6/0-7/0.
Tailor are best fished with a two hook rig, the bottom hook goes just before the tail, make sure it is above the lateral line, the top hook goes just behind the head. I recommend trimming the tail to slow the fish down a bit. I reccomend 8/0 minimum hook sizes for Tailor.
Squid are best hooked using a 2 hook rig similar to pike. The bottom hook goes through the skin between the eyes and the top hook goes into the top of the cape near the point. Hook sizes in the 7/0 to 8/0 range depending on the size of the Squid.
Prawns are best hooked using a single 2/0 or 3/0 suicide hook in the second to last segment near the tail. This allows the prawn to flick around unhindered. Hook sizes 2/0- 3/0
Big deadbaits are rarely used in the seaway, apart from the odd person using a fillet of something or pilchards. Pilchards however are too small and are more likely to hook Shovelnose Rays and the like. Using a fillet can be maddening with the amount of bream around, they will soon strip the bait of all flesh. The best deadbaits to use are Tailor and Pike and the best method of presenting them is to half butterfly the whole fish. Basically this means to cut off the tail and cut a fillet down one side but leave it attached to waft around. Mulloway and big Tailor in particular love this type of bait presentation but most decent fish will have a go. You can fish them on both the standard running sinker rig and the north wall rig. A slow lift and drop that keeps the sinker just off the bottom works best, just drop your bait to the bottom, then lift and drop it. You may have to release line if the current flow is fast to make sure your bait stays near the bottom.
I use a modular rigging system when livebaiting. This ensures that I can change sinker weights and fishing styles without having to retie knots every time you fish a different area. You can go from the north wall rig to the standard rig to an unweighted rig in seconds. There are a number of things you need to be able to do this. One is pre-tied traces, those with wire between the hooks and those without in a number of hook sizes. Secondly you need a number of Klik Sinkers in different sizes, these enable you to add and subtract weight depending on the area you are fishing when using the standard rig. The modular rig also ensures I can change a trace in seconds if it gets damaged by fish or rocks. The important end of a modular rig is 5 metres of 30-50lb mono then a 5mm bead(any craft supply shop will have these), then a heavy duty clip. The bead is necessary to stop the clip from the north wall sinker rig tangling with the snap clip, so don't forget it if you intend on using that rig.
You will need a number of different traces for livebaiting the seaway with a mix of line strengths, hook sizes and number of hooks. Trace strength should not be below 30lb and for large baits should be between 50 & 100lb. Traces will need to be changed frequently due to banging around in the rocks and damage from fish so make sure you carry enough for a session. Ideally you should match hook size to bait size, you don't want to be using too large or too small a hook on a bait. Here are the hook sizes I use for certain baits:
In my opinion hook styles don't really matter, use whatever you want. I use Gamakatsu Octopus Black in sizes 2/0 - 9/0 for all my livebaiting they are super sharp and the hookup rate is excellent. Circle hooks work but depend on how you like to fish, I would only recommend them for those who like to anchor as the sit and forget style works alot better with these hooks. What matters most is that the hook be appropriate in size for the bait you are using which I have covered above. All of the hooks shown in the picture below are Gamakatsu Octopus style.
The Unweighted Rig
The unweighted rig is rarely used but definitely has a place in a good setup. Its use is situation specific, in other words if you see fish swimming around an unweighted livebait thrown to intercept is often eaten. Kingfish are a classic target for this technique, but it will also work on Giant Trevally and Tailor. Another good use for it is to cast a livebait around the end of the north wall and let it swim around in the eddy on a run in tide. Big tailor who have been ignoring lures will often grab a unweighted live pike thrown in close to the rocks. In the modular system all you do is clip on a premade trace, hook the bait on and you are ready to go.
The Standard Running Sinker Rig
The standard running sinker rig is the most used rig in the seaway for livebaiting. It is effective for all types of fish but care must be taken not to let it roll around on the bottom otherwise you will get snagged alot. Drop it to the bottom, then lift it up a metre. This will let the bait swim around half a metre off the bottom. Care must be taken in strong tidal flows not to let the bait get too far off the bottom so you should drop it to the bottom and wind up once every couple of minutes or so.
The North Wall Livebaiting Setup
I use a different livebaiting setup for the north wall and deep hole area during a run in tide, the reason for that is the high tidal flow and rocky bottom make using the standard running sinker rig very prone to snagging. I sometimes need to go up to a 6oz sinker to hit the bottom on days with very large tides when using large livebaits.
The rig consists of a 5 m long shock leader of 40-50lb mono tied on to the main braided line of 30-50lb. On to the shock leader goes a bead around 5mm in diameter then it is tied to a high quality clip rated 80lb or more. A standard 2 hook rig(Gamakatsu Octopus Black 3/0 – 7/0 depending on bait size and type) with wire between the two hooks on a 50cm 30-50lb trace is clipped onto the clip. Next part is a sinker(1-6 oz depending on tidal flow) on a 1.m long trace of 12lb mono tied to a clip. This clip is then attached above the bead.
Concentration is essential with this rig, as the main idea is to keep the sinker on the bottom and the bait swimming that half metre above the bottom. You manage the rig by holding the sinker once the livie is attached, then swing it over the side and drop it to the bottom. With braided lines you can feel the sinker hit the bottom each time, so very 30 seconds or so lift the sinker off the bottom and set it back down. The sinker is sacrificial and will sometimes get stuck in the rocks but the 12lb leader on the sinker trace will break long before any of the other parts. Simply hop it along in the current until you start feeling some thuds on the line, then set the hook when you think the fish has it.
The Figure 8 Wire Knot and Making a North Wall Livebait Trace
Due to the large amount of Tailor and other toothy fish that hang around the north wall and in the deep hole it is highly advisable to use wire between the first and second hooks when fishing in this area. Its quite simple and very strong to implement this into your rig but there are a few caveats. You must use nylon coated multistrand wire and the strength needs to be 30lb and above, any lighter and it will likely fail. You must also test it by hooking it up to a bar and giving it a hard pull, if the wire was kinked during the knot cinching it will break, otherwise it will be solid as a rock. Its worth noting that all my traces are tested with heavy load prior to bagging, that way you know the trace wont fail when you’ve got a fish on.
Step 1. Tying the figure 8 knot.
Cut about 20cm of wire. Thread the wire through the eye of the hook then bring it back along the incoming wire, loop it around the wire then thread it back through the loop you created close to the eye of the hook. Once you’ve done that it should look like the picture below.
Tighten up the loop by pulling on both the incoming wire and the tag end and it should look like the picture below. Cut the tag end leaving about 3mm of tag. Ensure that you slide the knot down the right hand side as shown in the picture below. This will be the eye the mono gets attached to.
Tie another figure 8 knot to the hook on the other end of the wire. Test both knots by hooking it onto something and giving it hard pull. Once finished it should look like the picture below. That is the wire section completed. Ideally it should be between 10 & 15cm long for pike, 7-10cm for slimies & yellowtail.
Cut about 45cm of 40-50lb mono, using a uni knot attach it to the top hook making sure that it is tied to the left of the wire and tie a swivel on the other end also with a uni knot. Your trace should now be completed, test the trace under load before bagging. Your completed trace should look like the picture below.
Once completed and tested all my traces are placed into ziplock bags showing hook size, intended bait use, wire and mono strength.
Areas for livebaiting
The North Wall contains 5 distinct areas for livebaiting. They are the Deep Hole, The Runway, The Eddy, The Line and the Front of the wall. Most people only livebait the deep hole but all areas are worth fishing. As part of a livebait run during a run in tide I will fish The Eddy first, then as the tide begins to slow fish the end of the north wall, The Line, the Deep Hole and The Runway in turn. Every species can be caught off the north wall.
The pipeline is easy to fish with livebaits, you can either anchor up and sink your livebaits to the bottom or you can drift over it dropping your livies down right next to the pipe, a good sounder is essential for this. I think that drifting is a better method as you cover alot more ground and are more likely to find fish that aren't sitting on the pipe. Both methods work however, it just depends on how you like to fish. Most species can be caught around the pipe but Tailor seem rare. Giant Trevally and Mulloway are the most common catches.
The Triangle is mostly sand with a few patches of coffee rock here and there. Drifting this area is essential to cover the most ground. Mulloway are the most likely, but Giant Trevally and Kingfish are also possible.
The Northern Y is mostly sand but does have alot of exposed coffee rock formations, schools of fish will often gather over these formations during the night. Mulloway, Trevally of all species, Hairtail, Cod and sharks are all possible especially if there is alot of bait around. Drifting tends to work best but you can anchor off the the eastern side of the channel for decent results.
The Canyon holds Mulloway, Giant Trevally and Kingfish. It is rarely livebaited properly but does contain some very big fish at times. You can anchor off the the sides but drifting works best covering the edges and deeper sections of the canyon on a single drift.
Mulloway or Jewies are the main target species for livebaiters, they will take most baits as long as they are near the bottom. Concentrate your efforts near the top or bottom of the tides just as the flow is speeding up or slowing down. During the middle of the tides concentrate around eddies or in deep holes.
Tailor are mainly caught around the north wall, in the deep hole, in the Eddy or along the runway. They will eat most baits and unless you like losing hooks you should use the north wall rig with wire between the hooks. They will eat at any stage of the tide but the big ones prefer it when the tide slows a bit.
Bigeye Trevally are most commonly caught on live baits of herring but they will take yellowtail and even pike on occasion. They can pretty much be caught anywhere but the Pipeline holds the largest amount of these fish.
Giant Trevally can be caught anywhere but the north wall dropoff, runway and the pipeline hold the most fish. They will eat most baits except live Tailor. Giant Trevally will happily take baits alot further off the bottom than most other fish so if I get snagged with the north wall rig and lose the sinker, I let it drift around unweighted for a while. A GT usually picks up the bait.
Kingfish are a random event, you never know when they will show up or when you will hook them. They love live pike, Squid and Garfish but will have a go at anything fishy. Most kingfish hooked around the pipeline are lost due to bustoffs, hooking them elsewhere gives you a better chance. If you see them feeding on surface throw a unweighted live bait in thier swim direction and you might get lucky.
Sharks will often make themselves known while you are fighting a fish hooked on a livebait, often you will only bring up a head. To target sharks with livebaits you need a wire trace preferably 100lb or heavier a 10/0 hook and a decent livebait like a 40cm Tailor. If they are around they should find the bait fairly quickly. The best area for sharks is the deep hole at the end of the north wall but all locations have sharks at times. Look for areas out of the main tidal flow such as eddies and deep holes.
There are other species that can be caught in the seaway on livebaits, these include various cod species, Trevally species, large Mangrove Jacks, offshore species like Spanish Mackerel, Cobia and Snapper, Whitespot Shovelnose and Stingrays. All these fish are a random event and not something you can plan for but they make livebaiting the seaway an interesting way to spend some time on the water.
If there is anything else you think this article need let me know in the comments section. Some hook placement pictures are missing but I will add them as I can.
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.
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.
Boat: Polycraft 4.1 Challenger Tiller Web Page
Engine: 40hp 4 stroke EFI Yamaha F40FETL Web Page
Sounder: Lowrance HDS5 Web Page
Trailer: Oceanic Poly4.1 Web Page
Original purchase price was $11,000.
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.
Footage showing hookups, surface strikes and fish landed using skitterbaits.
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.
Proven lures for the Spring Season.
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.
Well after such good reports from the weekend I was hopeful of a few good days fishing this week. Unfortunately that didn't happen when I fished on Monday and Wednesday. Thursday and Friday were better.
On Monday the day started at 4am just as the first light broke the horizon. A few bigeyes over the pipe early morning, the occasional bustup from Kingfish after sunup and that was it. The morning showed a complete lack of interest on the part of the fish, a few fish were caught but you had to work for them. I managed a foulhooked bigeye and longnosed trevally on microjigs drifting the north wall runway on the runout tide though. I didn't get out in the afternoons other than Monday so that may have been when most of the action happened, nothing happened on Monday afternoon though which was disappointing considering the hours I put in. 13 hours is a long time on the water for so few fish. Off the water at 7.15pm
Wednesday was no better in terms of fish landed or sighted, same start time but no bigeyes a couple of undersized jewies on plastics near the pipe on the tide change, a small bigeye near the tower during the run-in and not much else. Gave it away around 10.30.
On Thursday the action picked up alot more with Bigeyes feeding from the time I arrived at the pipe for a good hour or so with fish ranging from 30 to 55cm. 20 and 30 gram twisties did the job. Tailor were scarce, a few around the North Wall on Minnows, Microjigs and Twisties, biggest about mid 50's on lures. Barry did pick up a massive 90cm Tailor while on a SeawayFishing tutorial on a live pike though. Kingfish were caught on the first hour of the runout tide on the pipeline by sinking flies or plastics down deep and jigging them back fast but it's a bit like winning lotto. Definitely not a sure thing. They also showed up on surface a few times near the Canyon but the few casts I did manage to get in there were ignored. The Cross channels Kings were around during the run-in tide and because the bait is quite large you are in with a shot if you can get your lure in there. Chris's son got a very nice 115cm Kingfish on a 30gram Twisty(20lb braid 30lb leader). Picked up the usual couple of small Jewies in the North Wall Eddy during the first and last hour of the run-in on big plastics as well.
Friday was much the same as Thursday, Good bigeye action early over the pipe, some scattered but reasonable tailor near the north wall and erratic kingfish action though I did see a very nice school of Kings come up near the wavebreak marker for about 30 seconds. Managed a follow but no hook-ups.
The difference in results between one day and the next were quite large, on Monday and Wednesday the fish weren't even slightly interested, on Thursday and Friday they were. Just goes to show what a difference a day makes.
|Days Fished||Time fished||Tides|
|Monday 13th January||4.00am - 7.15pm||0640 1.50m, 1309 0.33m, 1847pm 1.04m|
|Wednesday 15th January||4.00am - 10.30am||0107 0.14, 0754 1.58, 1420 0.23, 2003 1.10|
|Thursday 16th January||4.30am - 11.00am||0143 0.12, 0827 1.60, 1453 0.20, 2038 1.13|
|Friday 17th January||5.00am - 11.30am||0217 0.12, 0900 1.60, 1524 0.18, 2112 1.14|
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.
I've been on the water 4 times since the last update and the seaway continues to fish very well. I fished the morning sessions on Monday 23rd and Thursday 26th, and the afternoon sessions on Monday 30th and the 2nd January. This time of year it is super important to remember your tides and fish based on them. It saves you time and money to fish the peak feeding periods and your results will improve.
Water temps are up and holding between 23 and 25 degrees. Plenty of bait around, some frogmouths and there are big schools of small white pilchards around the 4cm mark as well. Boating traffic over the break was high but there were some good fish to be caught if you put in the effort.
Greenbacks have finally showed up with some nice fish in the low 60's caught this week on surface lures around the north wall during the low light periods of dawn and dusk. There are lots of tailor around the 34-45cm mark around the North Wall as well and a few fish around the mid 50's.
Kingfish have been feeding along the pipeline and in close to the south western corner of South Stradbroke on the morning run-in tides, how they feed depends on the weather and the bait that they are feeding on. If they are feeding on the small white pilchards it's alot tougher to get a strike than if they round up a school of frogmouths. There is also a few around the North Wall but not enough that you can target with any effectiveness. They do make a nice surprise though.
Bigeye's are around in numbers and when they do feed as a school they'll hit anything, with surface lure's they were getting airborne on the strike which was awesome. When they aren't feeding as a school there are a few random fish to be caught around the North and South Walls as well. They have been feeding aggressively around the end of the North Wall right as the tide starts to push in so make sure you are there at the right time. To make sure I recommend getting there no longer than an hour after the official bottom of the tide. They have shown up a couple of times on surface after dark near the pipeline but it's a bit random.
Plenty of dart around the North Wall Flats as well, but only when there is a bit of swell or waves running.
There is some excellent surface fishing opportunities at the moment so get those surface lures out and use them. It's quite possible to get good fish on surface in the middle of the day so don't restrict them to just the dawn and dusk periods. Use small thin profile surface lure's no bigger than 9cm.
Give the fish something different and you might get a fish that others don't. For example, the kingfish shown below was pulled off the end of the North Wall on a surface lure on my second cast at 7.30 in the morning on Boxing day after other boats had been throwing slugs at the wall for hours.
It's also important to 'Rest' an area. If you have cast at a certain spot on the wall twenty or so times, move elsewhere then come back an hour later and you might be able to pick up some more fish. Resting an area gives the fish a chance to get back to normal behaviour.
|Monday 23rd December||4.30am - 1.30pm||0507 0.32, 1146 1.37, 1817 0.24|
|Thursday 26th December||4.00 am - 10.30am||0235 1.08, 0809 0.50, 1415 1.15, 2043 0.23|
|Monday 30th December||4.00am - 7.30pm||0624 1.60, 1243 0.20,1827 1.15|
|Thursday 2nd January||3.00pm - 10.30pm||0156 -0.09, 0850 1.87, 1515 -0.03, 2105 1.24|
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
Afternoons provided the best fishing this week, with the morning sessions seeing few fish landed. I fished Tuesday and Thursday Mornings with a full day session Wednesday to catch the afternoon tide as well.
The afternoon run-in tides saw some excellent surface feeding by Tailor, Bigeye's and Dart, which were quite happy to hit anything thrown in the vicinity. Twisties and skitterbaits worked well but I'm sure anything thrown in the vicinity would have worked. I didn't see or hear of any Kingfish feeding in the afternoons though. The Kingfish did feed on the morning run-in tides on Tuesday and Wednesday, but not Thursday(which I would have picked for a better day for it). Only a couple were caught though, feeding times were short, between 5 and 10 seconds for the most part.
It's been a funny week, the fish seem to of only fed in the afternoons and thats it, they were done for the day. Morning sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday only yielded a few Tailor around the North Wall and small kingfish feeding over the pipe in very short bursts, though some big kingfish did show a couple 0f times in the Canyon.
After dark there has been some massive Hairtail around Hairtail Reach on the run-in tides, from 1.2 to 1.5m long. I picked up a few on plastics, got cut off plenty of times and trolled up a couple on Rapala XRD10's. I also managed to find(I ran right over them on a troll run) some jewies busting into bait in the same area and picked one up on a Rapala XRD10. With the amount of bait coming through it's worthwhile keeping an ear out for surface feeding by jewies in that area at night and casting plastics or minnows at them.
Overall it's been a disappointing summer season, very short bite periods, no greenbacks, bigeyes have been rare, little dawn feeding and the edge fishing has been poor. Still there has been a few excellent sessions if you were in the right place at the right time. Fishing the seaway in summer is always different every year, you never know what it is going to happen. This summer has been tough to consistently pull good fish, lets hope the new year changes things a little.
This is my last weekly wrap up for 2013, the next article will be Looking Back on 2013. If you are heading out, Good luck and stay safe on the water.
|Tuesday 17th December||4.00am - 11.00pm||0123 0.09, 0812 1.59, 1440 0.20, 2020 1.07|
|Wednesday 18th December||4.00am - 7.30pm||0158 0.10, 0846 1.59, 1515 0.18, 2055 1.06|
|Thursday 19th December||4.00am - 12.30pm||0232 0.11, 0921 1.58, 1549 0.18, 2131 1.05|
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.
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.
We had Northerlies this week which not only dropped water temperatures down to 19 degrees, but also created a dirty plume of water coming in the seaway during each run-in tide. Thankfully, the northerlies have abated and the dirty water has now gone but water temps are still around the 20-21 degree mark, occasionally getting up to 23 degrees on the bottom of the run-out. Baitfish numbers are still high but the fish species taking advantage of it hasn't changed since last week. This weekend has very small seas and light SE winds so don't expect too much action in the seaway. The tides weren't great this week so I fished mornings only on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
A run of very small (15-20cm)Tailor has mixed in with the larger fish and they are feeding off the end of the North Wall on the run-out tides. These little fish will hit anything and it's quite entertaining to see them hitting a big popper until they hook up. The larger fish are in very close to the wall, I got Tailor from 45-55cm by fishing minnows and skitterbaits right next to the rocks. No sign of anything around greenback size though. I still caught Tailor in the dirty water caused by the northerlies too so if it happens again, it's still worth a few casts. Time of day doesn't seem to matter, I was catching good Tailor at around 10am in the morning on Thursday.
Small Yellowtail Kingfish (55-65cm) are still hanging around the south wall and they are feeding from just after sunup for anything between 15 minutes and a couple of hours depending on the day. They are moving along the wall and picking a feeding spot on the day. On Monday and Tuesday morning they were feeding at the end of the south wall, busting up for about 15 seconds then sitting on the bottom for 15 minutes or until another school of baitfish came through. On Thursday they were feeding around the southern end of the pipeline and only fed twice. Skitterbaits and 20gram twisties work well on the surface feeding fish, 20gram twisties dropped into the school of kings on the bottom got a few hookups but no fish landed so if you see them on the sounder it's worth dropping a twistie down to them and cranking it back to the surface at speed. In general, if the tide is running out on sunup look for them at the end of the wall, if the tide is running in on sunup look for them around the pipeline. I didn't see any big Kingfish this week.
Didn't see any Bigeyes this week but apparently a few were caught on Monday around the North Wavebreak Rock wall. There is none around the North Wall.
Queenfish are still around in the Southern Y and over the pipeline at times, the usual small slugs work on them but you'll need a few casts to get a hookup.
Most of the GT's are still up the rivers, I know that some are located in the stretch above Sovereign Island and in the lake at the top of the Coomera. Hopefully they will make their way back down soon.
|Monday 9th December||3.00am - 10.30am||0116 1.08, 0650 0.30, 1328 1.40, 2003 0.13|
|Tuesday 10th December||4.00am - 11.00am||0227 1.12 0804 0.38 1429 1.28 2100 0.15|
|Thursday 12th December||3.30am - 10.00am||0438 1.29, 1039 0.40, 1634 1.12, 2244 0.13|
Looks like the standout fish for the summer of 2013 will be the Yellowtail Kingfish. They fed in some big ways this week but timing and location were critical. Tailor and Bigeye Trevally were also around in numbers on some days(and nights). I fished the afternoon tides on Monday and Tuesday followed by a morning session on Wednesday.
Converting fish feeding opportunities into fish in the boat is quite tricky, casting accuracy is imperative. Some anglers are still coming home empty handed. Cricket scores of fish are unlikely but if you find the fish in the right mood you can catch fish for a good hour.
The Kingfish action this week has been covered extensively in the Seaway Yellowtail Kingfish Update posted yesterday. Give it a read if you want to target these hard fighting sportsfish. Many other fish have been mixed in with these schools of Kingfish as well, Tailor, Bigeye Trevally and GT's are all being caught out of Kingfish schools.
Tailor are feeding along the North Wall and are mixed in with the Kingfish feeding around the South Wall particularly when they are near the tip. They are liking they windier days alot more than when it is calm. Keep an eye on the area's surrounding the ends of both walls and the 100m back from the tip. You can also work the edges with poppers and minnows around dawn or dusk or around a run-in tide change. Micro Jigs pulled in good numbers of tailor on the start of the run-out tide about 20 metres out from the north wall along the runway. Drop them to the bottom, give them 5 quick jigs then let them sink back down and repeat. Lures that are working casting at the wall are 20gm Twisties, Rapala Skitter Pop 9's, Skitterbaits and 30gram Storm Gomoku Chrome Micro Jigs.
Bigeye Trevally have been a bit more active this week coming up around the pipeline on the run-in tides in the mornings and mixed in with the Kingfish along the south wall. They have also been active at night on the run-out tides along the south wall from the pipeline to the tower. Skitterbaits worked great on these night-time fish but most poppers or shallow running minnows would work. Slugs like the Gillies baitfish 15 and skitterbaits work fine on the daytime fish as long as you get it into the bustup.
There have been a few Queenfish around 40cm in the southern channel during the day, you'll need to go to small slugs around 5-7 grams, check the dirty water lines on the run-out tides.
There is plenty of action on days when the weather is bad, not only that but the fish seem to feed for longer and are more aggressive so you are more likely to get a decent catch. If you are only fishing on days with light winds and calm seas(and going by the sheer volume of boats that went out on Wednesday.. many are) then you are missing out. You still need to pay attention to the tides, and fishing on the first couple of hours of the run-in tide is the best. Be at the mouth when the tide begins to push in and work your way in the seaway as the tide pushes the clean water further in. Keep an eye out for any bird activity especially false diving birds as these are usually over Kingfish.
Lastly, sorry about all the Skitterbait mentions in just about everything I write up. I know it seems like I'm going for the hard sell but these lures work on almost everything at the moment and in so many situations it's hard to put anything else on the end of the line.
|Monday 2nd December||3.00pm - 9.00pm||0039 -0.04, 0729 1.67, 1347 0.08, 1935 1.22|
|Tuesday 3rd December||3.00pm - 8.15pm||0123 -0.08, 0814 1.76, 1436 0.02, 2024 1.21|
|Wednesday 4th December||3.30am - 10.30am||0208 -0.08, 0902 1.80, 1528 0.00, 2115 1.18|
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.
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.
As we say goodbye to November and get into the last month of 2013, the baitfish numbers continue to increase but fish behaviour is still erratic. I fished fairly long days on both Monday and Wednesday rather than fishing a heap of separate days this week.
The fish are there but bite times can be short, or the fish bite for a long time and it's hard to get a hookup. To be fair the tides were rubbish with middle of the day run-in tides. Next weeks morning and afternoon tides should fish alot better. The afternoon tides over the weekend should fish ok as well, the morning's might fish ok but the wind looks to be howling, . If you do go out, you won't have much company and sometimes the windiest days can have the best fishing. Baitfish numbers have exploded, now not only do we have large schools of frogmouth pilchards, but there are large schools of white pilchards as well. On the run-in tide it's almost one giant stream of baitfish from the mouth of the seaway through to the cross channels just south of Crab island. Next weeks sustained SE winds look very good as well, if the forecast holds. Water temperatures are fluctuating wildly, from 21.5 degrees up to 25 degrees and back down again.
As for the fish, there is an element of predictability but also some random behaviour thrown in as well just to make you think real hard about the decisions you make. Should I go out to the end of the North wall/Pipeline or stick around the Canyon in the hope that the Kings & GT's will begin to feed. For an example, bottom of the tide on Monday around 8.30am the absolute worst stage of tide for surface feeding, the Kings came up at least half a dozen times and on the last time they came up I finally managed to get a decent cast in, only for the Kings to have 5 goes at the skitterbait without hooking up then a 65cm GT grabbed it.
The Kingfish are centered in 3 locations, The Pipeline, the Canyon and the Cross Channels.
The Pipeline is a mix of 60cm and metre long fish. The Canyon and Cross Channels are all metre long fish.
The Pipeline fish are feeding on the surface on the 3/4 line and up to 100m east of that(3/4 of the way across the seaway from the south to the north)during the run-in tide. Sometimes they will feed for 15 minutes, sometimes it goes for hours but hooking the Pipeline fish is not easy. The odd one is getting caught on chrome metals and poppers but it's hard work and frustrating. On Wednesday at midday the little kingfish fed for 2 hours at least coming up every 10 minutes or so but only one was hooked on a 25g raider, they were moving fast too so it was difficult to get a cast in the zone. There is also a chance of a Kingfish in close to the southern end of the Pipeline just on dawn.
The Canyon fish are alot easier to hook(or at least get interested) but they feed less. They are hunting in the area between the Canyon and the first set of beacons north. The second half of the run-in tide seems to see them out and feeding every 10 minutes or so but this can depend on the day. On Monday they didn't show at all on the run-in, but did on the run-out. On Wednesday they didn't show on the run-out but did on the second half of the run-in(2pm-3.30pm). They are definitely feeding and will hit a lure but you still need a bit of luck to get a hookup. I had lots of looks, nudges and follows this week with no hookups.
The Cross Channels fish are located near the two beacons just south of Crab, they are the least predictable and fewest in number but if everywhere else is quiet it's worth a look. At least if you hook a fish around them there isn't much structure.
GT's are still mixed in with the Canyon Kingfish, but a small school of just GT's did show on Monday morning alongside the North Wavebreak Rock Wall from the tip to halfway along it just on sunup so keep an eye on that area around dawn. Trolling and plastics didn't get any GT's at all so it looks like your only shot for a GT is casting into bustups.
Tailor are still around the North Wall in numbers. They are also feeding erratically, dawn sessions have been ordinary for the most part with only the odd good fish. They are feeding on the run-in tides along the inside of the North Wall in the middle of the day but only for very short periods, if you can get a twistie or skitterbait into the area they are feeding then you'll hookup but hooking strays after they stop feeding is rare. They did feed on the surface along the 3/4 line of the pipeline on the first of the runout tide on thursday afternoon which is unusual.
Bigeyes continue to confound me, I've seen them a few times. Alongside the north wall of wavebreak up as far as the little cove at dawn, near the pipeline in the middle of the day but catching them in any sort of numbers seems to be impossible. Hopefully that will change as water temperatures increase.
So overall, its a bit of a mix. There are fish around and lots of them but if you don't find them feeding you'll end up with nothing(this doesn't apply to livebaiting). Very few fish are being caught as random catches. I suspect what is happening is that because of the huge amount of bait around the fish are full and they are just 'topping up' in short bursts. As always your mileage may vary, with the amount of bait around you might see some random fish pop up and begin to feed so keep your eyes open.
|Monday 25th November||4.00am - 3.00pm||0111 0.91, 0636 0.44, 1316 1.25, 2000 0.29|
|Wednesday 27th November||4.00am - 7.00pm||0328 1.02, 0902 0.47, 1514 1.18, 2147 0.22|
As we head into the end of the year, the water temperatures have begun to creep up and the potential is there, but the fish are still reluctant to feed for extended periods.
This week saw some classic summer surface season feeding behaviour from Kingfish, Bigeyes and Tailor but only for very short periods. Use the wrong lure or be in the wrong place when they come up and you go without. Water temps increased up to 23 degrees this week. I only fished morning sessions on Monday and Tuesday this week.
Kingfish have been the highlight and they showed up in numbers around the Canyon on Monday and around the Pipeline on Tuesday, if you want a Kingfish you are going to have to keep your eye on the birds and get over there fast when they indicate feeding activity. There is still no guarantees about hookups when they feed on surface but if you persist you should get a hookup or two if you are lucky. Landing them is another matter. The Kings should hang around as long as the baitfish do, and that usually hangs around until the new year. Realistically, if you REALLY want to hook a kingfish, hang around the Canyon around sunup or during the first half of a run-in tide and sooner or later they will come up and you will get a shot at them, just be ready when they do.
There have been GT's mixed in with the Kingfish but the numbers aren't there, most of them are still upstream. They are taking surface lures meant for Kingfish but aren't coming up for poppers worked over the Canyon Edge or taking trolled lures. They have to be in feeding mode. Just keep an eye out for any bustups and get a popper or skitterbait in there quick.
Bigeyes are around but their behaviour is still erratic. Tuesday they came up over the pipe on the 3/4 line just after sunup and they were mixed in with the big Kingfish. Most people got nothing though, I managed one about 45cm on a redhead/silver skitterbait.
Tailor are there but with the flat calm conditions they are only coming up to the surface once that tide starts to run-in, and not feeding for long when they do. 20gram Twisties are getting fish and skitterbaits pulled a couple of Tailor around the North Wall working the eddies and edges.
Jewies are still in the usual spots BUT if you are interested in picking one up on a lure you should try the south wall, they are hanging below the massive schools of frogmouth pilchards particularly around the end of the south wall on a run-out tide just before sunup. Most are small (70cm or less)but it wouldn't surprise me if a bigger one was mooching around underneath the schools of bait. Get a small plastic about 5-8cm long on a 3/8oz jighead and work it slow under the schools of bait. I was using Ecogear Grass Minnows in CCM but any small plastic should work particularly anything that resembles a frogmouth pilchard. Squidgy Flickbaits in the 80mm size would be perfect.
Still the occasional Tarpon around, I hooked one off the end of the North Wavebreak rock wall on a run-out tide on tuesday and another couple around the end of the south wall just before sunup. This time of year most of them have headed upstream into the rivers and canals.
So overall, the fish are there but bite times are short. Pay attention to whats going on around you or miss out. Look for the congregations of baitfish on the run-out tides and fish below them in particular around the North Wavebreak Rock Wall and the end of the South Wall. On the run-in tides look for any surface activity and get over there quick. Mornings are still fishing much better than afternoons, but if the tide is right you can get a burst of feeding activity just as the sun sets.
I am currently testing single hook configurations on skitterbaits and these will be available as an option towards the end of next week. These single hooks are perfectly balanced and do not affect the action or buoyancy but they should increase the chances of landing a big Kingfish on them. Remember that Skitterbaits need to be worked with a steady pulsing action to get the best out of them, keep that rod tip up and don't work them too fast. Get them into a bustup and not many fish will refuse them. This week they have hooked Kingfish, GT's, Tailor and Bigeyes.
|Date fished||Time Fished||Tides|
|Monday 18th November||3.00am - 10.30am||0146 0.04 0830 1.58 1453 0.16 2038 1.10|
|Tuesday 19th November||3.00am - 11.00am||0219 0.07 0906 1.57 1533 0.17 2114 1.06|