Typical of mid winter there is not much to report on the gamefish front from South East Queensland. There has been the odd striped marlin tagged or seen on the wide offshore grounds by both gamefishermen or bottom fishing anglers in the deeper locations like the 50 fathom reefs off the Gold Coast, Deep Tempest off Moreton Island and the Hards off the Sunshine Coast. For the purists they would be the places I would be trying along with the bait schools off the Sunshine Coast for a sailfish or Spot X off the Gold Coast for a black marlin or striped marlin anywhere from 50-100kg.
If you still wanted to target gamefish and not necessarily billfish, cobia would have to be one of the best options at the moment. Captain Luke Fallon of the Gold Coast based 47’ Obrien Kekoa (ww.kekoa.com.au) found nine for his customers the other week where one went 80lbs, four were over 70lbs and none were under 40lbs. Just for good measure Luke has been getting onto some cracking good snapper as well. Sean Munro was another person to get into a big cobia out of his blue Stabicraft. It was 38kg give or take a kilo and was also caught off the Gold Coast. Cape Moreton and Moreton Bay itself come into contention for a good Cobia come August/September. Off the Sunshine Coast most bait schools will have a tuna in attendance. I have been landing the odd one and getting smoked by the odd bigger longtail tuna on soft plastics meant for snapper fished around bait schools whilst on charter. The tuna are always around in winter, just feeding deeper and not visible on the surface like they are in summer and autumn.
What has got everyone excited in the gamefish world is the news filtering down from the Townsville grounds. Cape Bowling Green has fished reasonably well for anglers when the weather has allowed people to get out there. Leigh Obrien’s new 26’ Obrien appropriately name OB26 in a long tradition of Obrien boats with the preface of “OB” took the honours the first weekend anyone could get at them in July with four black marlin tagged for the weekend. Magnetic Island based Riviera Red Rose had their chances skippered by long-time Townsville Gamefish Club member Mick Meirs with 19 shots but I don’t think they were able to capitalise on seeing that amount of fish. Recent boats to get some fish up there include Anthony Florences’s Cruise Craft Flo-tation and the Cairn Custom Craft, Mojo. When Townsville fired it was traditionally good fishing off South East Queensland over our summer.
Like a lot of boats I am gearing up myself for the Cairns heavy tackle black marlin season. I will be decking on the Redcliffe based 51’ Riviera The Phantom (www.thephantom.com.au) for the season from September to late November. It is interesting times ahead for all the glamour boats with the weak world economy and record high fuel prices. Will the customers come and can they all fill their diaries for the season? Lots of customers were traditionally wealthy Americans but their economy has been hit the hardest of anyone. The waters between Cairns and Lizard Island including Cooktown are still the best place in the world to tangle with a fish greater than 1,000 pounds. Sure grander size fish turn up at places like Kona at Hawaii and Madiera and Cape Verde in the Atlantic Ocean but nowhere with the regularity of the spawning aggregation that occurs of the Great Barrier Reef each Spring.
I’ll be back into chartering our local waters from December on. Give me a call at South Queensland Charter Services on 0407 574 868 or check out my website, (www.sqcs.com.au). I’ll be right into chasing fish like these dolphinfish nearby when I come back from up north caught for my customers. Get onto me for prices for The Phantom as well for the Cairns season.
George Cox and a recent dolphinfish caught with South Queenland Charter Services.