The fishing is well and truly hotting up in northern Moreton Bay as we march into the Christmas period.
Along the western foreshores, yellowfin whiting will still be around for a good feed with bloodworms, yabbies and rock worms the pick of the baits for them. Rock worms can be dug on the Redcliffe Peninsula at places such as Scarborough. The southern Bribie Island area including Red Beach, Skirmish Point and Bald Point will also still hold sand whiting. Use a light lead and fishing just behind the shore break is a tried and tested method of getting a good feed there. Mornings tend to be the best time to fish there. Don’t be put off by windy weather, generally the rougher the better along those beaches.
Moreton Island: This is always a popular location for a fishing holiday this time of year. Sand whiting can be found on the northern part of Moreton Island along the inside beach from Cowan Cowan to Comboyuro Point and the beaches on the northern side of the island. With the clear water, they tend to bite best on the inside beaches at night with the periods around the full and new moon the ones to target. My personal preference is for the new moon, but other successful anglers prefer the full moon. The northern beaches will also hold increasing numbers of swallowtail dart and chopper tailor. The best bait for swallowtail dart is yabbies and the humble pilchard will see plenty of chopper tailor caught.
Redcliffe: The inshore reefs around Redcliffe are worth targeting for snapper, grass sweetlip and Moses perch. The key to success is to fish light. If you are bait fishing, unweighted or lightly weighted baits are the way to go. This is not a location where whacking down a big snapper lead with a blob of squid will result in regular success. The legal size of grass sweetlip is 30cm but many an angler has confused grass sweetlip with the spangled emperor which has a larger minimum legal size of 45cm. To identify which species you have, the first thing to look at is the scales. The individual scales of spangled emperor have blue flecks on their edges which form the blue streaks along their flanks, while the individual scales of grass sweetlip have black markings. The second thing is that spangled emperor has three relatively long blue streaks or series of dots that extend from the eye across their snout, while grass sweetlip have a series of much shorter and narrower blue lines that radiate from their eye.
Rivers and creeks: Fishing success will be largely dependent on the amount of rain we do, or don’t get. Mud crabs will be around but will be more active after rainfall. Make sure your mud crab pots are properly marked and are heavy enough not to be dragged away by currents. Yellowfin bream will be present in the Pine and Caboolture Rivers, and Pumicestone Passage. Bream fishers can also expect an occasional javelin fish (grunter bream) mixed in with their bream catch.
Offshore: The FADs should be holding plenty of mahi mahi and some other pelagics when weather conditions are suitable to get out there. Mahi mahi are exceptionally fast-growing fish, one of the fastest growing overall. They can reach about 1kg after only six months and an amazing 10kg in one year. They have generally reached sexual maturity at six months of age. They are a short-lived species which only live to about four years of age. They pack a lot of living into their short lives and can reach a maximum length of 2m! Mahi mahi are opportunistic feeders and feed on a large variety of small fish and larger planktonic animals. They can be caught at the FADs on float pilchards, live baits like yakkas or slimeys, or on lures.
Make sure you get out and about for a fish over the next month or two. Always know the minimum legal sizes and bag limits before you retain a fish and if in doubt the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has the free Qld Fishing 2.0 app which has the information you need. Also know the marine park zoning arrangements as heavy fines can apply for fishing in no-fishing areas.
Dr Daryl McPhee is an associate professor of environmental science at Bond University
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