Winter in the seaway. Cold nights, westerly winds, flat calm seas, clear water and falling water temperatures. With the daytime surface feeding frenzies of autumn behind us all of these factors add up to some tough fishing during the day. With the seaway and broadwater now fully into the grip of winter lets look at the options we have for fishing.
Surface feeding during the day is very unpredictable during winter, Queenfish and Tailor are the most likely with Tailor feeding more aggressively during strong winds and rain. Queenfish are less fussy and will feed during the run in and run out tides. GT's and Kingfish may show occasionally during the day but are more likely to feed on surface after 3pm on a run in tide or during the dawn and dusk periods. Australian Salmon may or may not show up this year but they usually feed on surface during the first half of the run in tides as well. They are less fussy about low light periods and will feed on surface as long as the tide is right. Look for them around the sandbars and weedbeds where they can push the bait into shallow areas. The Horseshoe flats and the weedbeds just north of there is a classic Salmon ambush zone as is the area around the southern half of Wavebreak.
The dawn period usually yields a few Tailor, small Bigeyes and GT's around the ends and top 1/4 of the walls as can periods of strong winds and rain, just work the edges of the walls and in close to the rocks on the north wall flats with minnows first then with 20 gram twisties. Keep an eye on the sounder during this time and you may find schools of GT's, Bigeyes and Tailor sitting 50-100m out off the front of the wall and a plastic like the pearl slider on a 3/8th oz head or Squidgy Slick rig 80mm slow rolled through the school can get a fish or two. Also keep an eye on The Line out from the north and south wall and you may find schools of fish sitting on the bottom particularly on a run out tide, you can drop a heavy metal like a 30 gram twistie or 40 gram Raider down to them and slowly wound to the top might get strikes.
Using finesse plastics at the ends of the walls during run out tides is also an effective technique during the day during winter, you usually don't catch much but it is usually quality, species like Kingfish, Mackerel, Tailor and all the Trevally species are all possible. My preferred plastics are SF Whiteys, Fish Arrow Flash J and Casper Clear Powerbaits all rigged on no more than 1/8th oz heads. Simply allow for the drift and cast up so the plastic drifts gently to the bottom over your chosen spot. The Graveyard off the north wall and the South Wall Hole are both good places for this technique. You can also use it at the Elbow Hole, Canyon and the Deep Hole at the Cross Channels if fish are sitting on the bottom.
The usual heavy weighted plastics such as the Squidgy Flickbait 110 or 7" Gulp Jerkshad on 1-1.5oz heads will still catch small jewies around the tide changes in the Deep Hole, Pipeline and Tabletop off the north wall, if you are lucky you may get onto some decent size ones as well as the odd tailor, cod and GT.
Livebaiting works well particularly during the first of the run in tides in winter as the water is dirtier with larger Greenback Tailor, plenty of small to medium size jewies with the odd larger one, Giant Trevally from about 55cm up, different species of Cod and some other odd catches thrown in. Sharks can still be a problem and if you feel like chasing something big, a livebait or big flesh bait around 40cm will have you hooked up to one of these toothy critters in no time. Just make sure you fish the baits with enough lead to keep it near the bottom and away from strong tidal flows during the run in's or fish for them during the run out tides. For livies, try to get some pike around bridges and jetties using small minnows or plastics or berley up some garfish around the weedbeds with breadcrumbs or chicken pellets soaked in tuna oil, then catch them with small pieces of prawn or squid on #12 hooks. You can also go out to the bait reefs and try to get some yellowtail as well.
Luderick are a species not often chased in the seaway but there are plenty of them in there, during winter schools of 100's of fish can be found around the end of the north wall and north wavebreak wall but most rock walls hold a few. These fish can be caught on lures occasionally but are best fished with some cabbage weed under a float. Simply rig up a #8 size hook 1.5-2m underneath a float on a light leader(8lb or less) and cast it about 2 metres out from the rocks. Best times to fish for these is at the bottom half of the tides when the water is dirtier, run in or run out doesn't matter. Cabbage weed can be found on the rocks of the seaway at low tide, use caution when you are collecting it.
Night Time Options
Night time is when the Seaway and Broadwater can fish at its best during winter. Around the walls at night Tarpon are the primary target for dedicated sportfishers and all that is needed is a white or silver plastic on a 3/8th or 1/2oz head and a will to cast at the edges of the rocks until you find them which can take a while. Bigeyes, Hairtail and Jewies are also captured this way but tend to be small. For some reason tailor seem to be rare, I can only think of a couple of tailor I have caught this way at night despite the many hours spent fishing it.
Mulloway can be caught during the night using the same methods and in the same areas you fish during the day but at night is usually when the larger fish are caught. Larger soft plastics and livebaits fished around the start up and slow down of the tides both work with livebaits having the edge.
Look for schools of GT's sitting on the sandy bottom 50-100m out in front of the north wall on the runout tides at night, they are usually spread out over a fairly wide area not clustered up in one school like they do during the day. If you find this then sink plastics like the zman 2.5" curl tails or Squidgy slick rigs to the bottom and slowly work the plastic through the sitting fish. Cast, sink, wind for 2 seconds, stop for 5 seconds, wind for 2 seconds etc, it has to be s.l.o.w.
The edges of the channels leading to the seaway and deep hole areas are worth a troll with a shallow and deeper running minnows such as the flash 25, XR10 and XRD10 just after sunset for fish such as Tailor and Hairtail, good areas for this are the seaworld hole, Deep hole at the cross channels, the North East Crab Dropoff, Between Ephraim and Sovereign Islands and in the slower moving areas of the southern and northern channels.
Around the lighted bridges and jetties in the broadwater at night can yield some good fishing as well. The start of the runout seems to be the preferred time for feeding and you will find Tailor, Flathead, Bigeyes, GT's and Jewies will feed in
A winter mangrove jack
these areas. If you are very lucky you might find some surface feeding jewies in the leadup to the full moon. The best way to approach bridges is with a layered approach similar to that used around the north wall. Start with a shallow running minnows such as flash 15, 25, vision 110 or XR10 to get the fish that are feeding close to the surface then go deeper with a XRD10 or Vision 111 then a plastic like the 3" gulp Jerk shad in chart/pearl, Pearl Slider on 1/4oz heads or blade/vib lure. Concentrate on the areas with the light/dark zones first then move out to other areas. You can often get some surprise catches this way such as Mangrove Jacks, Giant Herring, Tarpon or Cod. Have a look at Sovereign and Ephraim Island Bridges, the Sunrise(Gold Coast)Bridge on the Nerang river, around Marina Mirage and any other lighted areas you can find. Area's with good tidal flow closeby to eddies are excellent night ambush spots for predators. You can also troll around these areas with a deep diving minnow.
So there is a few options for you to consider, while none of that is likely to compare to what we have seen in the last few months it should keep you busy until we hit the spring changes in September/October(my favourite time of year)
Early on in the week, the swell was huge around 4 metres, thankfully that has now abated and it has gone to the other extreme and there is less than a metre of swell around the walls. Fishwise the GT's were scarce from sunday through to tuesday with only 1 caught that I know of at the base of the swell on the north wall dropoff, they did show in numbers at the right time on wednesday 10.45 - 12.30, first at the pipeline then just south of the canyon. All GT's seem to be in that 62-63cm size. They also showed up 4 times on thursday ay 11.40 - 12.10 then disappeared.
The big kingfish showed up on thursday, a couple of times near the nth Wavebreak Yellow X but then moved down to the area west of the dredge and started rounding up balls of white pilchards. Noone hooked any however. There seems to be a bit of variation in size now too with quite a few kingfish in the 60-70cm size as well as the metre long versions. I did see some 60-70cm specimens around the north wall and pipeline chasing bait on surface during the run in tides.
Plenty of small tailor on surface just on dawn offshore from the seaway mouth and some decent tuna offshore from surfers.
Bigeyes hanging around the pipeline as well, look for the school on your sounder then drop a 30gram twistie down to them. On thursday just as the clean water reached the pipeline on a run in tide big schools of bigeyes came up to feed on surface a few times, kingies were mixed in with them.
Decent size tailor chasing bait on the wavebreak flats but hard to get them to eat. The usual undersize jewies on plastics at the tabletop on the start of the run in tide. Not much eating on the morning run out tides, the run in tides are seeing much more action regardless of the time of day.
So overall, plenty of bait around still, the run in tides seem to be providing the most action, the sea is flat as a tack and as such edge fishing isn't yielding any fish. Keep an eye out for bustups get there quick and you might catch any one of half a dozen species. Best lures were 20gram twisties.
The big swell has whipped up the sand again, dirtied the water and weed is thick throughout the whole system, especially around the north wall. Fishing plastics on the bottom is nearly impossible anywhere, you get weeded up instantly. I imagine livies would be the same.
Fishwise there is plenty of bait hanging between the northern wavebreak wall and the dredge. On wednesday I saw some bustups from big fish(GT's or Kingfish) in this area but as I was in the kayak couldn't get there quick enough. On thursday I didn't see any fish but the visibility was down due to the suspended sand, I did see some hardyheads spraying in the same area so keep an eye out around there you might get lucky.
There are plenty of small dart and tailor along the middle section of the north wall on the second half of the run in tide but you'll need small lures to have a chance at them.
Well things are looking quite good in the seaway at the moment still alot of dirty water around the bottom 3/4 of the tide but there is clean water making its way right into the broadwater at the top of the tide. It stretches from the red barges at the spit down the the cross beacons south of crab at the top of the tide. As long as we don't get any more rain it should clean right up within a couple of weeks. Apparently plenty of bait and small tailor around the walls at the top of the tide as well. Thanks to Steve G for this info.
Here's some video I did while running in my motor on friday afternoon, as you can see its pretty dirty at the bottom half of the tide.
Flooding is a regular occurrence these days and there are still opportunities for some top quality fishing in the dirty water. Fish still need to eat regardless of the visibility and the important thing to remember is that all the fresh water will be in the top layer of water, there will still be salt water towards the bottom especially in deep holes. Most predatory fish will take advantage of the dirty water by ambushing prey as it is flushed out of canals and rivers. The seaway itself provides an excellent hunting ground for predators after a flood due to its depth and strong tidal flows. The deep hole at the end of the north wall is particularly good as it enables fish to rest in the salt water on the bottom and dash up to the surface through the fresh to grab some food. Fish like Mulloway, Tailor and the various Trevally species have no problem hunting in dirty water but they tend to do so only at a time that suits them. This may be at the start of a run out or start of a run in tide.
Dirty water herring
Livebaiting on the bottom usually works very well so as long as you can find some livies you are in with a good shot at some fish. Lures can work well if you find the fish hunting along the current lines, the most likely area for this would be at the ends of the walls but don't discount the edges of the walls themselves. Dirty water makes larger fish more comfortable at hunting close to the surface so throwing around a shallow running minnow or popper can sometimes pay big dividends. Also try a metal such as a twistie or raider along the current lines to see if there are any fish hunting just below the surface. Plastics can also yield a fish or two on the bottom or midwater. If there are any well defined dirty water/clean water lines these are well worth a cast with a minnow or a metal. From what I have seen the flooding on the gold coast was not too bad so it should not take too long for water quality to improve.
Well it seems that spring is early this year, rising temperatures over the last week is a sure fire indicator that spring is on its way. While september can be a difficult time to fish with lots of snot weed, October through december is my favourite time of year to fish the seaway. Edge fishing the walls on dawn or dusk with poppers, stickbaits and minnows can pay big dividends with large tailor, bigeye trevally and yellowtail kingfish all a possibility.
Water temperatures have been between 18 degrees and 20 degrees all winter and spring should see those water temps rise quite quickly. Weather will get increasingly erratic with lots more strong southerly winds making fishing the north wall a suitable challenge for any experienced seaway fisherman. I'll be attempting a few bad weather fishes over summer so it will be interesting to see if I can get a few decent fish out of them.
Fishwise, Bigeye trevally should start to show up in bigger numbers and sizes with 60cm fish becoming more prevalent as we head towards summer. Poppers and minnows around the walls and slugs near the pipeline on early morning run in tides. Vibs dropped down deep around current lines should also pick a few good specimens. Surface feeding schools can show up at anywhere at any time but generally only during run in tides. Giant Trevally have been around in numbers for most of the year so it will be interesting to see if they taper off this month as they usually do. Mid to late september usually sees a few big schools of bigeye trevally feeding on surface in the broadwater after dark on run in tides, keep an eye and ear out in the main channels leading to the seaway for these fish.
Tailor numbers should increase with the biggest fish showing around the north wall in October, November and December. Poppers, Stickbaits, big minnows and live pike will catch the bigger fish, slugs 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.
As for Tarpon, I haven't seen any large numbers for months now so they have probably already moved up the rivers. I’ll still have a quick go for them when I go out but I'm not expecting too much. Australian Salmon have been very random this year with only a few small schools showing up, so its pretty much a case of fish them if you find them. I have seen them in the seaway in previous years until mid October so they may stick around for a bit longer.
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 getting one up from the pipeline is almost impossible, there should be some hanging around the north and south walls which are easier to land. Stickbaits and livies work well for the larger fish, twisties and plastics work fine for smaller fish feeding on surface.
Mulloway should still be around and will be able to be caught at the tide changes with vibs, plastics and livies. Flathead should show up briefly as the spawn in the seaway in large numbers in september, plastics or live herring on the bottom are best for these fish. Dart should show up around the north wall and outside the beach break on south straddie towards late spring and will take small slugs and occasionally minnows.
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.
Towards the end of spring (usually mid to late november)we should see large schools of frogmouth pilchards enter the seaway and broadwater, this is the cue for 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.
Lures I will be using alot over the next 4 months:
Lots of bad weather around at the moment and that has had me thinking a bit about fishing in the worst weather. I've had a few trips over the last couple of years where the weather has been absolutely shocking, yet the fishing has been red hot. Talking it over with a few other guys they have also had some awesome fishing sessions in strong winds and driving rain. The caveat seems to be that you need to find the fish first and if they are holding in an exposed area fishing will be difficult, if not downright dangerous. So with that in mind I'm going to do a test for the rest of the year and try to fish some bad weather at least a couple of times a month, I don't expect the fishing to be easy at first and might donut a couple of times but with a bit of luck I'll be able to work out a pattern and know where to look.
The swell has been massive(up to 11 metres) over the last few days and it is still fairly big, up to 6 metres today on the wave rider buoy. Looks like the swell should drop over the next few days but will still be around 2.5 - 3 metres on Saturday so use caution if you are planning to head out over the weekend. Such big seas will have stirred up alot of sand and dirtied the water a bit particularly around the walls which will probably take a few days to settle. Weed can also be a problem after such big seas. On the fishing side, you'll probably see a few offshore species such as snapper in the seaway, plus the big seas might have convinced a few schools of tailor and salmon to come into the broadwater. I won't be able to get out there until the weekend so let us know how it looks if you get out there before then.
The water is looking very good now during the top half of the tide with visibility around 2-3 metres which is almost perfect. Still a bit dirty in the canals and during the bottom half of the tide but improving daily. These pics were taken at 10am this morning, official top of the tide was 10.44, actual would have been around 11.30am. Now all we need is the baitfish and the fun will begin. No sign of any baitfish there today.
No serious weather forecast for the next week, so it should continue to improve. Early morning run out tides this week, next weeks tides are better.
As predicted the swell has dropped right off to less than a metre, the water quality is still very poor but it wont take long before it cleans up as long as we dont have any more significant rain and the swell remains small. Photos from today at the top of the tide showed the clean water just offshore though the water around the north wall is still quite dirty, not quite enough flow to clean it up. The water around the south wall is cleaner but visibility is still less than a metre at the top of the tide. Visibility at any other stage of the tides is less than half a metre. No more significant rain is forecast for the next week so hopefully that should give it time to clean up.
On the plus side I did see some birds diving on bait today, could be a few schools of froggies have made thier way in despite the dirty water.
Fished the seaway this morning, more detailed report later. Currently the seaway is suffering a double whammy of dirty runoff water from sundays 118mm of rain plus a cornflake weed invasion courtesy of the large swell we had over the weekend. Visibility is down to half a metre due to dirty runoff and suspended sand and thats only during the last hour of the run-in, the rest of the run in tide visibility is down to 10cm or so. The huge amount of cornflake weed around the north wall makes it impossible to fish with minnows,vibs or metals except for the last half hour of the run in and first half hour of the run out. The South wall is not affected by cornflake weed at this time, but was too dangerous to fish the end of the wall this morning.. The swell was around 2.5m SE this morning but was falling quite quickly, quite safe to fish around the front of the north wall as long as you don't do anything stupid. Given the conditions, fishing was tough with only a couple of small bigeyes and tailor caught.
The water should clean up quite quickly if we don't have any more significant rainfalls in the near future, hopefully the cornflake weed will bugger off as well.