Tough offshore
Big impoundment barramundi are still on offer during the cold months. Matty Arnold with a genuine 120cm beast.

Improving catches when it’s tough offshore

I’VE been speaking to a lot of anglers who have been heading wide from Yeppoon targeting red emperor and large-mouth nannygai, and many of the reports are that the fishing has been quite tough offshore.

The first thing I ask most anglers who are struggling is how far they have headed out from the marina and what tactics they used. Some people do get their back up a bit with these questions, until I explain that I’m only trying to get an understanding of what they are doing to give them some ideas to improve their catch rates next time they head out.

One of the most common mistakes I see anglers make is not dedicating enough time to secure fresh bait. There are heaps of different ways to acquire fresh bait. One of the easiest is to have a light rod rigged with a small Flasha lure.

If you find any bait schools on the surface getting busted up, then pull up and have a cast. Most of the time you’ll be able to hook a mack tuna or bonito that you can fillet for slab bait.

Having a bait jig at the ready is another top idea. They are a bit of a pain to use with all those small hooks, but the rewards speak for themselves.

 

Tough offshore
The author with a quality Corio Bay flathead taken on a small Vertrex Soft Vibe.

 

I can remember a trip I went on with a friend in his big plate boat. The bite was super tough, but we did manage to secure a heap of yakka – also known as yellowtail scad – on the way out. None of the frozen bait we had onboard put a keeper in the boat, everything we got was on either live or butterflied yakka. If we hadn’t put the effort in, we could have quite easily gone back to the boat ramp and written that trip off as ‘they just weren’t chewing’.

During winter, when we get our good weather periods, we will see a bit of westerly wind. Westerly wind seems to play havoc with the closer ground up to about 60km, I believe.

You can still catch good quality fish, but it seems to be a lot tougher. If you want to fish the closer ground, it may be a case of putting in a big effort for a few quality fish.

Generally, if I want to do well during winter and a westerly is predicted, we head as wide as possible. My opinion is, the further you get away from the coastline, the less effect wind direction seems to have. Tough offshore

 

Tough offshore
How’s this for a nice surprise while trying to cast net some bait? Geoff Elliot nailed this pair of threadfin salmon when fishing Port Alma.

Tough offshore

We normally don’t start fishing until we are a good 80km from the marina, unless we find something interesting on the trip out. We then concentrate on fishing from the 80-100km area.
I’ve been out that far with a consistent 10-12 knot southwesterly and fish have still chewed hard.

You may not agree with some of the information supplied and that’s OK, these are a few of the tips and techniques that have worked for me when times have been tough.

So, what has been happening locally?

Tiger squid have been surprising for the first two months of winter.  I’ve been out a couple of times and only managed a dozen or so both times.  The size has also been down on previous years.

I think it may be a slow start to the season and will ramp up during August, so make sure you’ve got all the gear prepped and ready for action for when the wind drops.

With the Fitzroy River still a mess, I’ve been concentrating on other systems such as Corooman Creek and Corio Bay. Corooman has been fantastic for bread and butter species. I was running around Corrie not too long ago and was absolutely amazed at the amount of winter barramundi in the system.  Though it was hard to get them to bite on lures – I guess the 18C water temperature will make them a little sluggish. I only managed a few hits but nothing that would commit.

 

Tough offshore
This is the author’s wife Amanda after receiving some helpful advice about landing tiger squid. Rumour has it he was only recently allowed back in the house.

 

So, I put the barra gear away and got the light out… and had an absolute ball.  The amount of small fingermark that were keen to have a chew was surprising.

I also got in to bream, flathead, steel back salmon and cod.  While nothing was massive, a lot of fun was had. Corio has still been a bit murky though has also been fishing well for bread and butter species.

Recently, I went there with good friend Mick Slade and we had a lot of fun on the light stuff. Flathead were being a bit harder to find on top of the tide, with only one decent fish and two pups for our efforts.

Once the tide dropped and we started working gravel patches and drains, we had a steady supply of flatties coming over the side.

The stand-out plastic for the trip was the 3” Molix RT Shad – if you haven’t had a swim with this lure yet, I highly recommend you check them out.

Well, that’s it from me for this month. I’m looking forward to some warmer water and warmer weather. Need me a barra fix. Tough offshore

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