With winter nearly upon us it’s time to have one last shot at some autumn pelagic action, as water temps in the southern half of queensland drops below 22 degrees inshore pelagic predators become less active and many migrate offshore or back north following the warmer currents.
Longtail tuna disappear from there surface feeding action and migrate, however a handful of larger specimens over 20 kg do hang around all winter, changing there feeding habits from surface forays on pilchards, flying fish and gar to deeper schools of yakkas, squid and demersal species like juvenile sweetlip, happy moments and even squire.
This can be a tough time to find pelagics as they can’t be seen on the surface, all the action is down deep so a quality sounder preferably with side imaging is in invaluable; I use a lowrance hds 12 with structure scan, using this units ability to look sideways up to 50 meters clearly either side of the boat lets me find bait schools or fish that otherwise I would miss.
Find deep bait schools and that’s where the big predators will be this time of the year, not only big longtails but cobia, queenfish and big golden trevally. This is no place for light lines either as fish over 15 kg are common so I prefer minimum of 30 pound braid on a good heavy duty reel such as the catalina 16 on a good 7 foot spin rod, leader of 40-50 pound fluro is a good idea too.
Best technique is to fish heavy jig heads with big plastics down deep, other techniques such as micro jigging and trolling ultra-deep divers work just as well depending on the depth and location, quite often big predatory fish will rise up from 20 meters of water to hit a lure sitting at 8 or 10 meters. Find those bait schools and the bigger predators won’t be far away just sound around them and keep watching your sonar!
Live baiting is also a devastating way of getting bites here also but sharks can be a problem especially if using bigger livies like yakkas!