Christmas 2013 Silly Season Recommendations
Silly Season is approaching. Between December 21st - January 5th will see heavy traffic in the Seaway and Broadwater. It can be a testing time for boaties with water rage incident's, inexperienced boaties, massive cruisers flying through at top speed and jetski's by the hundreds. That said, the fishing can be excellent if you know what to look for and where to be at what time. I'm not planning on fishing alot during this time, I'll probably only fish on the worst weather days(20-30kts SE or NE with the right tides) so for those of you who have time off and want to get on the water I'm going to make some recommendations. Remember that tides do matter, as does the weather and you should allow for that on the day.
- Look for birds and specific bird behaviour - Birds will indicate feeding activity probably 75% of the time.
- The early morning is consistently the best time - most fish haven't eaten for 10+ hours so they 'should' be hungry. Afternoon's can yield some good fishing but tend to be very tide dependant. If the tide turns to run-in after 3pm, look for surface feeding by Kings or Tailor.
- If there is fish feeding behaviour on surface but they go down, look for the school on the sounder and try dropping metals to the bottom and burning them back to the top.
- First light is around 3.45am with sunup at 4.45am. Just before the sun pokes over the horizon is the peak time for the dawn bite, so be on the water ready to fish no later than 4.30am.
- Some fish prefer to feed when there is more light(Kingfish especially) so you might see another surface bite after the sun is up from 5am through til 8am.
- Look elsewhere, although the top spots in the seaway consistently hold fish, sometimes looking elsewhere away from the crowds can mean you find fish that no-one else knows about.
- Fishing after dark is not for everyone, but if the crowds are proving to be too stressful during the day a dusk session into the night can yield some nice fish without the agro. Check the Nocturnal Seaway Fishing article for information on that.
North Wall - Currently only holding Tailor & sometimes Dart - Minnows, poppers, stickbaits, metals - Dawn or Dusk + run-in tides. Fish with surface lures if they are busting up otherwise go for a metal. Minnows still work from first light til sunup. Microjigs can work fished near the bottom during the day.
South Wall - Currently holding Bigeyes, Kingfish, Tailor, Dart. Bigeyes are erratic, use metals or poppers if they come to the surface, at night stick with minnows or poppers/stickbaits. Kingfish can be found anywhere along the wall depending on the day, look for the birds figure out where they are holding and wait for them to come up. 20 gram twisties or stickbaits work on them. Tailor and dart are only found around the end of the wall, metals work the best.
Pipeline - Kingfish, Bigeyes. Wait for the fish to bust up and throw metals or stickbaits at them. Run-in tides or the first couple of hours of the run-out tides only.
Canyon and North Wavebreak - Bigeyes and GT's, Big Kingfish - Erratic, sometimes they show and sometimes they don't. Be there at sunup or the hour after for your best chance, look for bustups.
Remember that things can change by the day, so keep your eyes open and keep changing your techniques if you aren't getting anything.
Seaway Yellowtail Kingfish Update
There are lots of Yellowtail Kingfish in the seaway at the moment and some patterns of behaviour are emerging, this is what I know so far.
There are two sizes of Kingfish. Small fish in the 55-65cm Range and Big fish in the 90-120cm range. Each of these size ranges are feeding in different ways and area's so I'll cover each separately.
These small kingfish are feeding as a group, usually in schools of 20 plus fish but I have seen schools of 50+ fish feeding at the same time. These smaller fish are focused on the run-in tide particularly as the clean water pushes in and the South Wall of the seaway though sometimes they will venture over as far as the 3/4 line across the pipeline. Time of day doesn't seem to matter though they don't seem to like feeding before the sun is well up(5.00am) and after 5.30pm. They don't feed for long, 15-30 seconds is about it, so be close and get your lure in there or miss out.
On Monday afternoon from 4.30-5.30pm they fed all along the South Wall of the seaway every 5 minutes or so starting from 50m back from the tip and working thier way back towards the pipeline during the hour. They weren't fussy and skitterbaits were nailed as soon as they landed as long as you got into the feeding school. On Tuesday afternoon due to the late tide they appeared at around 5.15pm and did one long blitz all along the South Wall lasting about 5 minutes and then they were done. On Wednesday morning they fed every 10 minutes or so around the southern end of the pipeline up as far as the tower in close to the wall.
Slugs and slices around the 20 gram mark will work as would small stickbaits but they just can't seem to resist the skitterbait. The reason for that is the way they feed, they will often focus on one individual baitfish on the surface and chase it until they catch it and the skitterbait being a good imitation of the frogmouths around at the moment just looks like one more fleeing baitfish on the surface. They are often swimming at you when they take the lure so the hit can be a bit confusing, you think you have a fish on but there isn't alot of weight so keep winding until they finally realise they are hooked, then they will take off. These little kingfish are great fun on light gear and they don't fight as dirty as the big fella's do so you can fish them on any sort of light gear from 6lb to 15lb.
Kingfish feeding along the south wall on Monday afternoon
This is the average size small kingfish
These big Kingfish continue to cause anglers grief, more have been hooked this week but none landed. The main area for these big fella's is the Canyon and the northern channel leading north to the first set of channel markers. They have also been sighted numerous times around the Cross Channels markers particularly the Green one just south of Crab Island. You will also get the odd one around the pipeline. The Canyon fish are by far much easier to hook. Individual fish will come up to the surface to feed but these are hard to hook, what you are looking for is a group of kingfish, 5+ fish or more. If you can get a cast into the bustup while they are feeding like this your chances are good of hooking one. Accuracy matters, getting the lure right into the middle of the action is your best shot at getting a hookup, the further away from the main bustup the less likely you will hook one. Landing them is..... difficult. Most big kingfish hookups around the Canyon are over in less than a minute. If you can try and keep the line as vertical as possible and get them slugging underneath the boat, letting them run lots of line out gives them the best chance of escape as they only need to find a small rock to swim past and it's all over.
The run-in tide seems to be the most consistent time for them but they do throw in a bit of random behaviour coming up on the run-out tides. The most important thing is not too much chop in thier feeding area, on a run-in tide and a northerly wind the canyon chops up alot and they don't like to feed in that. The same tide with a South Easterly is much better and will see them up and active.
As for lures, skitterbaits are working well but there is also a chance with sinking stickbaits around the 9cm size and chrome like the gillies pilchard slugs might get hit as well. One technique which hasn't been mentioned before is trolling, now while it doesn't seem to work once the sun is up I did hook a big kingfish on Monday with a trolled Bolt Omega after sunset, unfortunately the hooks pulled as the fish was circling the boat but I was able to get a good look at him and he was every bit a meter long. It might have been just a once off(I tried again on tuesday with no luck), but if you are fishing the afternoons and the sun has just set it's worthwhile putting a minnow out and having a troll around, if you don't get a kingfish you might get a one of the other species that frequents the area.
Hooked up on a Canyon kingfish
Spring Time Fishing
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:
- 20 gram twistie
- 40gram Raider
- 9cm Rapala Skitter Pop
- Megabass vision 110 & 111
- Daiwa Dorado Slider 14s
Seaway Feeding Triggers
The Southport Seaway holds alot of fish at times.. and I do mean alot. The sounder can be stacked with fish from top to bottom, the only problem is that most of these fish are resting and not feeding. Like us fish do not feed 24 hours a day, they only feed at certain times and then only for short bursts. Feeding times for fish are dictated by a number of factors and once you know these you can start to plan a fishing trip around them. There's never any guarantees with fishing, but you can stack the odds in your favour by being in the right place at the right time.
Lets start with the easy ones.. Dawn and Dusk and thier siblings, the first hour after.
Dawn starts at first light, and I do mean first light.. the instant you see the slightest lightening in the sky at the very edge of the horizon, that is when the big fish start to prowl. The change in light enables bigger fish to hunt more easily for prey, which take longer to adjust to the changing light conditions. From first light until sunup(when the sun breaks the horizon) is the period when you will see alot of surface feeding by Bigeye Trevally and Tailor and is generally when the bigger fish will be taken, the north wall and pipeline are the areas to fish if prospecting but keep an eye out in the middle of the seaway as fish often feed on the surface in this area at dawn.
The first hour after sunup
The first hour after sunup is generally when the tuna's will feed and during this time they will feed hard and hit lures willingly getting progessively more fussy the higher the sun gets in the sky, this is also when the smaller fish will start feeding as well most of these along the front of south straddie or in front of the seaway, stuff like small tailor, bonito and dart.
The exact opposite of dawn, dusk starts as the sun begins to dip below the buildings of southport blocking the sun from view and finishes with complete darkness. Dusk bite times are usually alot shorter around 15-30 minutes. Sometimes with certain fish such as mulloway or tailor the bite can extend well past darkness. I must admit I'm not a big fan of dusk fishing due to too many average trips, but fish can and do feed hard during this time. Livebaiting tends to work better than lures.
The first hour after sundown
The first hour after sundown is when your primarily nocturnal hunters will feed, Mulloway, Hairtail, Tarpon and Bigeye Trevally are the main species that like this time to hunt. In season you will find big schools of each of these species feeding, you still have to find them of course which is more easier said than done. Mulloway are usually found around the pipeline and in the deep hole off the north wall, Hairtail in the deep holes around the broadwater, Tarpon can turn up anywhere and bigeye trevally can be found feeding in the channels south and north of the seaway and in the seaway itself.
Next up is probably the most important triggers for feeding, The Tides..
The last hour of the run in
Many fish are lazy and an important time for them to feed is the hour just before the tide gets to the high as the tidal flow is slowing, this is particularly important for slower fish such as mulloway, once the tide has stopped most feeding seems to cease until the tide starts to go back out again. The tidal flow will slow on the south wall of the seaway about half an hour before it starts to slow on the northern side so you can fish both sides effectively. If the water is very clear and you can see the bottom in 15m of water then you will probably struggle to get a fish in the last hour of the run up during the day.
The first half hour of the run in
The first half hour of the run in is a good time to fish especially if the water is very clear at the top of the tide. Just when the tide starts to move around the front of the north wall is the time to fish, fish like cod and jacks like to hunt around the end of the wall just as the tide starts to move though unless you have decent gear or are very lucky most will make it back to holes in the rock and bust you off. Once the tide is in full swing they will go back to thier rocky homes or find an eddy close to the rocks. Big fish like kingfish and mulloway will also wait just on the dropoff and pick up and food that comes over the edge during this time, there's usually also small jewies, tailor and GT's along the edges of the eddy.
The run in tide
Fish like GT's and Salmon will almost exclusively feed on the surface during run in tides and they like the water to be flowing at full speed which makes it easier to hunt the baitfish they seek. They will only ever hunt like this during the day or at dawn/dusk and seem to prefer the first few hours of the morning(7am-10am) and the late afternoon (3pm-6pm). Tailor will also hunt on surface during these times but are less predictable. You can still effectively livebait in the seaway during a run in tide but you need serious weight and small baits(herring, yellowtail) to get to the bottom depending on the tidal flow, I use up to 5oz if the tidal flow is strong. GT's, Bigeyes and Tailor are the most likely species you will catch with a few school jew in the slower area's.
The first hour of the run out.
The first hour of the runout seems to be an important time for the pipeline, moreso than the north wall. During this time I've seen an increase in fish feeding behaviour quite a few times and sometimes they will feed on the surface during this time. Livebaits tend to work better than lures though, especially if the sun has been up for a while. It seems to affect most species that sit on the pipe but kingfish, GT's and Bigeye Trevally are the main ones. Some of the time on the north wall the fish just seem to shut down after the tide changes to run out, but its still worth a look if the pipe has no fish.
I'm not a big believer in the solunar tables as triggers for fish feeding but the moon does play a part, there's unquestionably a buildup in feeding activity in the week before the full moon and fishing is better at night if there is no moon at all. so its worth keeping those two in mind. You still have to find the fish though.
Fish can't eat without someting to eat and the better catches come when there is lots of bait around. March to July(white pilchards) and November to January(frogmouth pilchards) usually sees big schools of bait entering the seaway and broadwater, find the bait and you can usually find the fish. If you find the bait and there's nothing feeding on it the fish may be waiting until the tide or time of day changes to commence feeding.
So thats it, there's a few feeding triggers for you to consider. Fish can and will ignore these and feed whenever the hell they feel like it but I've found more often than not planning a trip around these elements, especially trips where I can stack some of these in a row are trips that are the most successful.