WITH an increase in surface activity on the Fraser Coast during spring, I find myself hosting many new guests. Often they have had very little experience with this style of charter.
It’s lures only, and with little to no trolling involved it can be a bit daunting, particularly when the unsettled weather of mid-spring is thrown into the fray. There’s not much you can do to practise fighting fish or fishing deeper waters in windy conditions.
But you can definitely polish your casting game. Please understand that casting a heavier rod is different to flicking a light stick.
The rod action needs to be smooth and powerful, with a big emphasis on the bottom hand levering to load the upper half of the rod. You must generate the power in a heavy rod, otherwise the cast will fall well short or spray wide of the target.
Even some well-seasoned anglers get it wrong. Springtime weather can often be a bit ghastly, so prepare as best you can and as usual, a hat, sunglasses and sun-safe clothing are the basics. Often overlooked is footwear. I strongly advocate for wearing enclosed footwear.
You can buy all sorts of shoes that are designed for fishing and watersports, but I just buy light sneakers with a good tread pattern on the outer sole. Once the tread gets a bald spot, I toss them out because they become a bit hazardous. Thongs are not good footwear because they slip between your foot and the deck.
Bare feet are marginally better than thongs, but the grip factor is a problem with bare feet. When you are running around a wet deck, you need to be surefooted. I have seen anglers fall and slip even when moving quite small distances. Luckily I have not had any major incidents on the boat, but I think it is partly to do with my intolerance of inappropriate footwear.
Closed shoes will also protect you from fish, hooks and other potentially hazardous objects. Another minor factor is seasickness. If you are unsure about seasickness, take good tablets, not some random herbal thing. Good ones readily available at chemists are Travacalm and Kwells, which will make you a bit parched and drowsy as a side effect but don’t be alarmed.
Try to sleep well the night before, eat a moderate-sized breakfast and keep looking out to the horizon once on board. Luckily it’s not a big problem for our tours because it’s usually only chop we experience, not big rolling swells. As for tackle, if you are at all unsure, please just use the guide’s gear.
Nothing is worse than bringing something inappropriate and having it clutter the vessel. Most guides will talk you through lures if you wish to bring some of your own. Generally one day of fishing will find you using no more than five lures, with only 50 percent being effective, so take note.
My pet hate is gear strewn all over the vessel, because it’s hazardous, and the more you change lures, the less time you are in the water. In certain places I have a regimented method for hooking the fish. Deviate from my plan at your peril! Sometimes I find anglers with little experience but some skill best because they can replicate what I require and are more open minded.
Now for a brief report on the fishing. Tuna have been slow to show and when they do appear, they are fussy as hell. Both mack and longtail tuna are here, with longtails marginally keener to chew. Plastics retrieved at speed are usually the key. I expect fishing to be easy at this time of year, so it’s slightly concerning to experience this pattern.
Tuna are a massive feature of spring fishing, and I think it will be a trying period of fishing in November. At the time of writing, sharks have really started to show. They moved in over the space of a week or so. Even small trevally are taken well before seeing colour and these pesky sharks will mean the end of our light-tackle fun and deep fishing certain reefs will no longer be part of the tours until next winter.
It certainly was fun to target smaller trevs and occasionally hook larger fish on leaders of around 20lb. During this winter’s tough bite, sometimes the lighter tackle was the key to boating good fish.