The Autumn run of Northern Bluefin Tuna (aka Longtail Tuna) is in full swing with March seeing many anglers tangling with these speedsters throughout the bay. Popular lure choices for targeting “longies” include small metal slugs in the 15g – 30g range, the halco twisty being a favourite for many anglers. Soft plastics and small stickbaits have also proven to be a productive means of getting a bite. Birds hovering and diving are an obvious way of locating schools of feeding fish but Longtail are a fast moving species that are constantly on the move, often busting up on a baitball and disappearing again before the birds have time to locate them. It pays to keep a keen eye peeled for the unique splashes and white water that are the telltale signs of a feeding Tuna school. Inside the bay amongst the Northern Bluefin have been large numbers of the lesser targeted Mackerel Tuna and Bonito, Bonito making great baits for large Spanish Mackerel but more on that later.
The shallow offshore reefs have also seen large numbers of juvenileYellowfin Tuna (YFT) in plague proportions. A much more aggressive species than their cousins, these little YFT have been somewhat of an annoyance, often hitting large lures and baits intended for much larger species. The odd Skipjack Tuna has turned up on the closer offshore reefs this season aswell which is unusual as it's typically a colder water species.
Large Spanish Mackerel have finally turned up after a late start to the season. Earlier in the season saw large numbers of small fish which some anglers were able to catch on small slow trolled lures and baits but the big ones have now arrived. A larger class of fish than we've seen in the past couple of years these are serious predators! They're hitting large baits and lures often launching completely out of the water up to 10m high. My preferred method of targeting these A grade table fish is on large surface lures, stickbaits and poppers. While a lot of casts and a lot of effort goes into this method the rewards of seeing these missiles launch on a surface lure and then the feeling of the rod loading up as the fish makes its re-entry are well worth the effort required! An exhilarating spectacle in anyone's books. Mixed in with these Spanish are some quality GT's as well which make for some great fun and a bit of excitement whether targeting them or not.
If that's not your style then the tried and true method of trolling large diving lures or large baits (such as the aforementioned Bonito) will certainly get some fillets in the freezer. Where are they? Cape Moreton. Look for the “pressure edges” and “current lines”, the more current the better. Around 1.5 – 2.5 knots is ideal. Find the pressure edges and watch the sounder for bait balls and the signature appearance of large mackerel, often likened to “noodles” or “spaghetti” at mid-water on the sounder. While it's rare to find them inside the bay it has been known to happen at certain spots in our northern area. These fish will hang around for the coming months in fluctuating numbers gradually building to a peak in numbers in late winter when they will be spawning.
Also worth a mention are some great Snapper that have been turning up already this year indicating we might be in for a thumper Snapper season this year. As the water cools over the coming months fish numbers will only improve and it wont be long now before it's time to bust out that shallow water Snapper gear. More on that next month.
Tight lines, folks!
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