Catherine was stoked with her 105cm jewie that ate a 3m-diving Zerek Ripper Diver tied on 15lb line.

Southern Moreton Bay alluring for jew

The year has really got a roll on now. The weather gods have been reasonably good to us around Moreton Bay over the past month and we’ve been able to get a few charters out.  One thing I’ve noticed this year is the weather is either really good or very ordinary, so it’s either been glassed out or totally wild on Moreton Bay.

Flathead was the standout species for the past month, with plenty caught in all sizes from small right up to our biggest for the year at 92cm.  Mixed in has been plenty of table size fish of 45-55cm, with 95 percent of these fish coming on soft plastics.

Bream have been enjoyable by-catch due to a number of really solid fish around at the moment. A lot of the bream have gone 35-40cm, which makes for good fun on light gear.

Most of the time they have been hooked on prawns, but they are willing to take some of the soft plastics we’ve been casting for flathead. Decent bait schools are floating around in the areas between Goat Island, Peel Island, Banana Bank and the Pelican Banks.

Targeting the bait schools resulted in catches of school mackerel, tailor, snapper and the odd jewie if you were lucky enough. While chasing the bait schools I got to have a memorable day with two of my clients: Ruben and Catherine.

A bit of background: neither had masses of fishing experience, Ruben had caught a couple of fish before and Catherine had landed a whiting. They have two children under two years old, so they decided to come out for a fishing charter without any kids and have a relaxing day on the water with no real expectations.

We left the boat ramp at 6am and headed straight out the middle to find some bait schools. Upon arriving at our destination, I sounded around and found bait everywhere, so we anchored up. With plenty of action on the Lowrance, we started throwing a few plastics around and getting baits into the water.

Unfortunately, despite all the action around us and all the bait showing up on the sounder, after about an hour we still hadn’t received one bite, so decided we were going to try trolling some hard-bodies through the bait schools to see if we could get a reaction that way.

I drove around and marked where I could see the main concentration of bait and also noticed plenty of fish were holding on the bottom below the bait schools. I tied on 5m-diving Zerek Ripper Divers and proceeded to troll them through the bait.

We managed to pick up a couple of small tailor and a 45cm snapper, but for the amount of action on the sounder it was still quite tough for us to only pick up a few fish, and I knew the big arches I could see on the Lowrance meant some larger fish were there to be caught.

I decided to take off one of the 5m Ripper Divers and tie on a 3m-diving model to see how we would go running mid-water through the schools.  We made our first run and as soon as we reached the first bait school, whack, off went the shallow-diving lure.

Before long, Ruben landed a 90cm shark, which was quickly set free to go on its merry way. I then removed the other 5m lure and ran two 3m divers. We came back through for another pass and as soon as we got to the first bait school, Ruben’s rod bent over double and 15lb braid began screaming off the reel.

We quickly got Catherine’s lure in and started chasing this fish down. It put up a fantastic fight, taking plenty of line and heaps of big runs, but Ruben finally got the fish under control, that beautiful silver colour came to the surface and a 1m jew slipped into the net and made it safely inside the boat.

Ruben was absolutely rapt that he had caught his first-ever jew, and not a bad one at that, so I took a few pics and we got the fish back into the water quickly, giving it a really good swim before letting it go to fight another day.

We tidied up the boat, got all the lures sorted, dropped them in the water and made another pass through the bait schools. Once again, as we got to the first bait school, believe it or not Catherine’s rod bent over double and 15lb braid started screaming off the reel.

This fish was going fairly hard and we were losing lots of line, so we had to get the other lure in fast to chase this fish down.  Ruben did a stellar job of getting his lure in quickly and he cleaned up the deck for Catherine so we had a nice clear working space.

The fish was giving Catherine plenty but she was doing a great job on the rod. However, about halfway through the fight she said her arms were starting to get a bit tired and she didn’t know whether she would be able to land the fish. I said if she couldn’t keep going to give the rod to Ruben to continue the fight.

I think that was enough motivation for her to get a second wind, and after about another 10 minutes that lovely silver colour of a jewfish came to the surface.

Catherine’s 70cm lizard hit a soft plastic. This will be a capture Catherine remembers for a long time.
Catherine’s 70cm lizard hit a soft plastic. This will be a capture Catherine remembers for a long time.
Ruben’s 1m jew smashed a 3m-diving Zerek Ripper Diver.
Ruben’s 1m jew smashed a 3m-diving Zerek Ripper Diver.
A fair few decent size flathead are around and quite willing to take a soft plastic cast at the mangroves in shallow water.
A fair few decent size flathead are around and quite willing to take a soft plastic cast at the mangroves in shallow water.
Numerous solid bream are being captured such as this 40cm model taken while casting soft plastics for flathead.
Numerous solid bream are being captured such as this 40cm model taken while casting soft plastics for flathead.
This is what the bait schools looked like on the Lowrance sounder just before Ruben and Catherine hooked their jewies.
This is what the bait schools looked like on the Lowrance sounder just before Ruben and Catherine hooked their jewies.
Young Dom with a personal-best 53cm snapper caught on a Zerek Chilli Padi jig.
Young Dom with a personal-best 53cm snapper caught on a Zerek Chilli Padi jig.

It had a couple more small runs around the boat but then returned to the surface and sat there perfectly for the net shot.
In a matter of seconds, a cracking 105cm jew was in the boat. We were all stoked and it was so great to have husband and wife both get a cracking jew on the same day. As far as we were concerned, the day couldn’t get any better.  After a few quick pics, we popped the fish back in the water, gave it a really good swim and released it to fight another day.

Now it was time for lunch, so I asked the pair if they were interested in heading south to pull up out of the breeze, have a bit of lunch and see if we could catch a flathead for the afternoon. Well they were keen on that, so we headed south between the bay islands for a quiet afternoon.

It was low tide and I found a drain that had a bit of bait hanging around, so we pulled up in about a metre of water and I showed Ruben and Catherine how to use the soft plastics. Catherine went to the bow, Ruben headed down the back and I went to the cabin to make a few sandwiches.

I had only just got lunch started when I heard Ruben saying Catherine was on, so I jumped out of the cabin as quick as I could and grabbed the net, and sure enough Catherine was onto a solid fish. This fish gave her plenty around the boat in the shallow water on 6lb line but she had it under control and soon a cracking 70cm lizard was in the net.

With this being Catherine’s first-ever flathead, and coming on a soft plastic, we took some great pics of the fish and Catherine decided she was going to set the big girl free. After a solid swim, we let the flatty go to fight another day.

What a fantastic day these two had on the water. As I’ve said before, it doesn’t happen every day but sometimes Moreton Bay just lets you have a special one. Also as I’ve said before, time on the water is what will get you those special days, so get out there and get into the fish and you too could have a special day like Catherine and Ruben.

If you would like to join me on a charter, phone 0433 732 310, go to www.moretonbaycharters.com.au or check out the Moreton Bay Charters Facebook page.

Until next month, stay safe on the water.

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About Sean Conlon

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