By Anthony Cass - Pelagic Hunter
With typical La Niña weather conditions being predominant this past month, it has made it difficult for most to get offshore. However, the brief window of great weather we received prior to Christmas did see many anglers hit the water to successfully pick up some fresh seafood for the holidays. Despite the unstable weather a La Niña brings with it, the warmer than average currents which can make for some great fishing. Particularly when it comes to Pelagic species. Right now, the currents are very warm, with temperatures in excess of 27°C reaching our local offshore reef system. This warm water has brought on some outstanding pelagic fishing across a variety of species. Marlin, Wahoo, Mahi-Mahi (Dolphinfish) and Spanish Mackerel being top of the list of target species for many who have made the most of the brief opportunities to get out.
While the Marlin haven't yet reached us in the numbers that were seen at Hervey Bay earlier in the season, there were still a few early arrivals to be caught locally before Christmas. With also some great reports coming through from the boats off Noosa, we can expect them to be on our doorstep in significant numbers very soon, if not right now!
The Wahoo are running red hot with the warm currents and hitting just about any lure they come across. From poppers and stick-baits to skirts and divers, they're feeding aggressively and hitting everything. Wahoo are a true pelagic species that never stop swimming and can often be an elusive target in that respect. Like all pelagics’, their feeding patterns are heavily linked to the phase of the moon and the position of the moon in the sky throughout the day. In previous issues I've mentioned the four (4) daily lunar cues of the moon: - moon overhead, moon underfoot, moonrise and moonset as commonly being periods of increased pelagic activity, but this seems to be particularly true of Wahoo. Wahoo are certainly not boat shy and can be quite inquisitive of boats, often swimming quite close to inspect a boat at drift or anchor. When Wahoo are caught trolling, it is often the boat that gets their initial attention and draws them in for a closer look. As mentioned earlier, they're hitting almost any lure trolled or cast with the most successful method to specifically chase Wahoo being fast trolling skirted jet-heads. A skirted lure with a heavy metal head designed to be trolled at speeds of 18knots+. Jet-heads trolled at high speed on or near our local reefs, an hour surrounding any one of the four daily lunar cues, will give you the highest chance of success of boating one of these incredibly fast swimming fish. One of the fastest fish in the ocean and prized as a sport fish, Wahoo are equally regarded for their eating qualities, with firm white flesh and a very clean flavour. Wahoo will exert large amounts of energy very quickly once hooked, which raises their internal temperature quite high. If keeping a Wahoo for the table, it is crucial to immediately get their temperature lowered as fast as possible in a saltwater ice slurry.
The FAD's have been reliably holding good numbers of Dolphinfish. They're larger and wiser this year than we've seen in recent years and can often be quite timid and sitting low in the water column. When all else fails and it seems like they're just either not there or not eating, the trusty old pilchard on a set of gangs floated down through the water column near the FAD will often prove irresistible. A plotter with side-scan is a huge advantage when trying to locate them, as they often sit a small distance from the actual FAD. Like Wahoo, Dolphinfish will raise their internal temperature very quickly once hooked and need to be submerged in an ice slurry immediately. GPS marks for the FAD's can be found here: https://www.qld.gov.au/recreation/activities/boating-fishing/rec-fishing/fish-aggregating-devices/find-a-fish-aggregating-device or by googling “qld fad gps marks” and looking for FAD 5, 17 and 6.
Also worth a mention are some great Cobia, Kingfish and GT's getting around. This time of year often sees some incredible catches across these 3 species as they join the plethora of pelagic activity. January is becoming known as MONSTER GT month and already this season a 50kg+ giant has been caught off Mooloolaba... They're out there! A dream fish for anyone who dares to pit themselves against these apex predators. NOW is the time to be throwing the big poppers for that trophy fish of a lifetime! Tight lines folks! Pelagic Hunter