THE plan right up until the Sunday afternoon of a long weekend was to head out early on Monday for an offshore saltwater session chasing mackerel.
When rolling the weather dice, sometimes things don’t go your way. While loading the boat on Sunday arvo, I did a last-minute weather check, only to find the wind was getting up earlier than predicted and blowing stronger. Still on a high from the bass trip with my daughter Kaitlin a few days earlier (article available here), I was keen to back it up with an awesome last-minute saltwater session.
So instead of an offshore saltwater session, and as first light aligned with dead low tide, we opted to do the usual milk run of spots, hoping to get among some grunter, flathead and maybe a trevally. The morning snuck up quickly and, following a morning brew, the boat had wet feet again. While sitting in the boat and sorting everything before heading out, I felt a little relieved to see the wind was up and the change of plans was the right call.saltwater session
Some years ago, I was caught out by the wind jumping 15 knots above what was predicted, and it put me in a crazy situation I’m not keen to repeat – more about that another time. A short burst into our first spot and upon arrival the sun was just creeping over the horizon. On heading out, the water was still that oily black colour and while sneaking along the bank Kaitlin and I peppered the edge with Z-Man 2.5” Slim SwimZ and 3” MinnowZ.
It wasn’t long before Kaitlin’s drag broke the tranquillity and after a couple of strong runs up and down the length of the boat and under the engine she had notched up a solid 53cm grunter (barred javelin). This put her second PB of the weekend on her record-keeping brag mat! Definitely the way you want to open your account on a session. Moving along the bank, we could see heaps of hardyheads stacked right along the edge and as you would expect, some bigger fish hassling them.
They always seemed to be out of reach, so we kept edging towards them using the electric motor and working as much ground as possible in between. While working my plastic along the bank, I opted for a hopping-style retrieve down the edge of the weed bank and back to the boat, ensuring I kept in good contact with the bottom on each pause. It didn’t take long for a good size estuary trevally to inhale it.
On a 1-3kg outfit these size fish are a heap of fun. After a solid fight and photo, the trev went back and we kept flicking.saltwater session
Further along our track is some shoaly ground that can hold the odd jewfish and cod. At other times of the year, we’re not scared to throw Z-Man 6” SwimmerZ in this spot. Kaitlin was keen to change it up in the hope of nailing a jewfish, so she switched to a Z-Man 4” DieZel MinnowZ (Purple Death) and was rewarded once again with a solid hook-up.
This fish was lit up and made her work for every inch of line until she landed a 53cm tailor. It was another PB for her, which made three for the weekend! We continued our saltwater session down the bank, and the tide started to rip in. Kaitlin didn’t manage another fish in this stretch, while I landed smaller grunter and bream.
With an hour up our sleeve, we headed to a bit of shoaly ground, which usually harbours snapper, sweetlip and the occasional cod, though most of the time they’re on the smaller side. Sometimes you will get fish worth taking back to the table. By now the tide was flying in, and while in fast current you need to move quickly and only have enough time to hook and play one fish, I still prefer to use a lighter presentation.
The fish seem happy to work up and down the water column, and if you’re reasonably close to the bottom, you’re in with a chance. Kaitlin stuck with her Z-Man setup, which paid off in the form of undersize snapper and legal sweetlip and kept her entertained for the rest of the session. I like to use this spot as a bit of a proving ground for different presentations, and over the past few months I’ve been playing around with an inline spinner called a Bug from Mepps Lures.saltwater session
On this occasion, I switched between that and a stickbait from Fish Inc Lures. When you’re not under the pump to catch fish, experimenting with different presentations, retrieves and rigs can produce surprising results. In this case cod, squid and even a whiting were happy to have a crack.
With some refining, I’m sure these techniques will produce quality fish in future. While it wasn’t the saltwater session we originally planned for, we still managed to find quality fish and have a lot of fun doing it. Let’s face it, every time you have a fish pulling drag, it’s a good day and beats the hell out of working. I hope you managed to find some fish in the past month, or if not, you’re already planning the next trip.
Cheers and screaming drags!