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..
This picture was taken yesterday at around 11am, about 2 minutes before these professional fisherman(and I use the word professional with a great deal of contempt.. there's nothing professional about ripping the guts out of fisheries) ran their net around the entire northern wavebreak weed bed. Once they were finished we went over, and tried for a pike and got zip, not even a touch.
The fish that weren't caught, would have left the area immediately and it takes weeks for them to return. This is from Lindsay on Ausfish and is worth reading.
"What happens is - when a net is shot around a school of mullet, tailor, bream, goldens, whiting, dart ..... any fish that can drum muscles against their swim bladder and produce a vocalisation, which we haven't found any that don't yet ..... the fish emit what is known as a 'distress signal' or 'alarm signal'. Other fish nearby of any species that has a history of being netted, relay this signal on and so on & so on and this is known as 'secondary transmission'. This is an evolutionary trait in many marine and terrestrial animals and improves survival prospects of these species.
These fish move away from the source of the distress and this is known as 'net avoidance'. What is known as 'area abandonment' occurs, whereby the fish tend to stay away from that area for a period documented, and observed countless times here and elsewhere for a period of between 1 and 2 weeks. The fish then begin to move back into the abandoned area and the pros, knowing that it'll be between 1 and 2 weeks before they can find fish there again, shoot the nets again and the process repeats itself. The length and volume of the area abandonment has many variables - depends on species and age of the netted fish and the size of the haul. A netted school of greenback tailor of say 4 tonnes will cause a far more severe area abandonment than would a haul of 1 tonne of small dart for example.
These guys pictured get around a bit, and they have no respect for the fish or other fisherman. I've heard about them netting entire schools of tailor that were busting up, while anglers were catching them. They don't just target one weedbed either, I've seen them netting most of the weedbeds in the broadwater. Sooner or later these guys are going to piss off someone with a bad attitude, and there will be blood in the water... and it won't be fish blood.
I think its time that the broadwater and associated rivers were treated as a recreational fishing haven like they have in NSW, but of course that would require a government or council that actually cared about the fishery and its obvious ours don't other than locking up huge areas as green zones.
With autumn coming to an end and cooling water temperatures its time to start thinking about how the seaway changes in winter and what fish to target from June to August. Cold water temps usually mean the fish are less active and hold closer to the bottom. Theres less surface feeding and the range of species changes slightly.
Bigeye catches have decreased over the last couple of months and while there might be a late burst this month from June until september will only be seen sporadically. GT's should hang around in big schools until July but then will only be caught rarely until next January. Tailor should be a more regular catch but most will be caught on the bottom with only the occasional fish caught on the flats or around the edges. Mulloway numbers should increase and hopefully we'll see some larger specimens come through this year. I think we've all caught enough 50-65cm specimens to last a lifetime. Luderick numbers should increase and there will be a few incidental catches on lures around the edges. Queenfish may make an appearance but they have been rare in previous years. Bream numbers will increase and make a nuisance of themselves with people using small livies. Offshore, mackerel will disappear but mack tuna will show up on the surface from time to time, usually only smaller specimens though. The larger tuna are usually only caught on livebaits over the reefs during winter. Tarpon should still be around but based on what I learn't last year they will be holding deeper in the water column, instead of 2-5 metres down they'll be holding anywhere from 8-12 metres down.
Weatherwise we should see more westerlies calming weather conditions and weeks of flat calm seas. The water can also be very clear during these times with the bottom visible in 10 metres of water, when this happens the seaway only fishes well at night or dawn/dusk. The dreaded phosphorescence will make an appearance more regularly which will make the seaway unfishable at night, the only thing to do when that happens is to move further into the broadwater until dawn.
Lures that worked really well last year were the zipbaits vib 80-25g, the ZBL popper, Gulp 3" minnow, Ecogear grass minnow M and 40g Raiders also pulled a few fish. I wasn't livebaiting last year but did so a few years ago during winter and pike and yellowtail yielded the usual jewies and tailor. I'll expect a few GT's this year as well.
Pike numbers have thinned out over the last month and too much time has been wasted trying to catch them so I'll be looking at other species as viable livie replacements; Garfish, Herring, Hardyheads and Squid. I'll be trialling some new methods of fishing livies over the next few months. If they are successful I'll do a write up about them.
Heres a few pics from last years winter catch.
So what can we look forward to in 2011? Well alot depends on the weather.. more cyclones are forecast, that means more strong winds, more rain and more floods. The Gold Coast has got off lightly so far with only 2 mild flood events, which have only taken a couple of weeks to clear, that can change at any time.
From now until late may is pelagic season, its been a good mackerel season so far so hopefully that should continue. Tuna have been around but not in any numbers, schools have been found all the way from south straddie to palm beach reef but all schools have either rejected offerings or been impossible to get a cast into. We should start to see some striped tuna and yellowfin tuna in late January/early feb with the bulk of the mack tuna schools showing up in mid february and staying with us until late May. The full moon in March usually provides some excellent tuna fishing just off the mouth of the seaway, as long as the weather allows you to get out there.
As for the seaway itself, Jewies will still be around at the top of the tide changes on plastics. Bigeye Trevally will stick around until about the end of January then start to fade out though the smaller ones will stick around. Giant Trevally usually show up in numbers as the Bigeyes move off, they usually stick around until July/August but can be difficult to catch regularly.
Tailor should be around all year but will stop surface feeding as the water gets colder, the bigger fish will be caught on poppers and shallow running minnows from now until about May, when the smaller fish take over.
Tarpon are still a mystery fish, I caught alot in winter last year but that was due to the good conditions we had, lots of flat calm seas enabled me to fish where I had not fished for them before. None have been captured in summer so far but the conditions have been challenging to say the least. 2011 will hopefully add a few more behavioural patterns to my knowledge of seaway Tarpon.
Yellowtail Kings can show up at any time, they don't seem to have a preferred time of year but they do seem to prefer cleaner water.
Well here we are on the last day of the year that was 2010. Its been an interesting year with some really bad weather and almost constant rain. We've had a couple of floods and alot of strong winds but despite all those challenges we still managed to catch some good fish and the seaway continued albeit reluctantly to yield a few more secrets. SeawayFishing was launched in June and I'm happy with the progress of the site so far, its turning into a decent resource for seaway anglers, feedback has been very positive so it will continue in 2011. Firstly I'll go through my top fish of the year then I'll do a month by month summary starting from June.
Nothing exceptionally huge there, bigger fish were hooked but as usual earned thier freedom.
June was the month I finally managed to catch a few Tarpon. Tarpon require a dedicated approach but the rewards are there if you put in the effort. June also saw some excellent Giant Trevally action on the flats when the conditions were right. Small bigeyes on poppers and Jewfish on vibs were also around in numbers.
July was pretty much a repeat of June saw more Tarpon hit the deck along with the usual small Bigeyes and Jewies.
August saw some quality tailor hanging around but the cold water temps proved to be quite challenging. Some more small Jewies and Bigeyes as well.
September saw the water temps improve and also saw the first run of decent bigeyes. Poppers started to catch fish once more and some excellent popper sessions were had around the end of the north wall. More quality tailor also showed up with a few fish over 60cm. A few more Tarpon were captured along with more Jewies.
October saw the first of the floods and half the month was wiped out with dirty water. The second half of the month fished well with more Tailor, Jewfish and Bigeyes. The yellowtail kings also showed up as well.
Early November saw low temperature levels and sulking fish, small tailor and bigeyes were the only fish caught. The Froggies showed up in the last 3rd of the month and brought with them massive surface feeding schools of Tailor and Bigeye Trevally. The bigger fish were around but at the end of the north wall where most of the time it was too rough to fish. Strong Easterlies made fishing difficult.
Early December saw the big schools of Bigeye Trevally holding over the pipeline, quality was good with most fish over 40cm with a few over 60cm. It also saw some quality tailor landed fishing the washes and some nice Jewies fishing the bottom. Schools of bigeyes and tailor also fed on the surface on the north wall flats when conditions were calm. Schools of tailor were feeding just outside the shorebreak on South Stradbroke. Mackerel also showed up in numbers on Palm Beach and Mermaid Reefs. Large schools of Australian Bonito and Slimies also showed up on the narrowneck arti and Scottish prince wreck. The last week of the month was wiped out with floods and dirty water only fishable offshore or at the very top of the tide.