Summer has arrived and with it the return of the warm weather. The offshore water will warm up considerably initiating the return of the baitfish schools and also warming up the creeks. The target species generally change with the shift in seasons in both the estuaries and wider offshore grounds. Species like whiting will take the place of bream as the popular table fish in the creeks, while the current makes fishing the deeper water for reefies fairly difficult offshore. This is usually the time to get the trolling gear out and give the bottom bashing gear a rest. Summer is the time of exciting battles with Marlin offshore and bare knuckle brawls with mangrove jacks up the creeks.
As the water warms the concentrations of bait in the rivers increases. The prawns start to run, the schools of herring swell in their numbers and the fish that love to prey on these baitfish follow the warmer water into the local river systems. Schools of trevally, (including big eye, giant trevally, tea leaf trevally, diamond trevally and goldens) can be seen smashing into theses schools of bait around the periods of low light, namely early morning and late afternoon. They are good fun to catch on small metal lures, poppers or soft plastics. If you can get a cast into a feeding school of trevally then the hook up is usually instantaneous. If they are not visibly feeding then casting lures or fishing live herring around bridges, rock walls or channel markers are good methods to catch one.
Mangrove Jacks have somewhat of a cult following in the creeks and many fishos are very passionate about chasing them throughout the summer months. I am one of the Jack junkies and find it very tough to fish for anything else after doing battle with one of these prized fish. They are amazingly strong adversaries that have a tendency to keep many of the lures that are used for them. That is probably what keeps many anglers getting up at ungodly hours to go for a Jack fish. I know my lovely and patient wife dreads summer because she knows that the alarm is going to get a good workout. If you want to catch one of these fish then you have to be on the water before the sun pokes its head out. Yes there are always the exceptions to the rule, but I know my chances increase a hundred fold if I am on the water before the first rays of light claw there way across the sky.
Trolling deep diving minnows along rock walls, bridge pylons, rock bars and drowned timber is a good tried and proven technique that many anglers use to catch their jacks. If the lure is bumping the bottom every few metres then you are in the strike zone. The only downside to trolling is that the fish landed to hooked ratio is not very good. Casting plastics and hardbody lures is also a good technique, with the importance being on getting the lure as tight to the structure as possible. If lure fishing is not your preferred method of fishing then using live bait, flesh baits and even chicken will do the job just as well, as long as the gear used is up to the task of putting a lot of pressure on the fish without failing then you will be in with a chance.
If you strike out on the water and haven't been able to catch a few fish for dinner then don't despair. Come on over to one of the Mikes Kitchens on the coast and get stuck into a few ribs. I am always keen to have a chat about fishing.
Next time: Offshore Fishing
Catch you on the water