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Fly Fishing

Chasing Golden Trevalley on the Magnetic Island flats.


Enjoying one of the many beautiful beaches of Magnetic Island.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Flathead from West Point!

Bit of a late report from me! Dad and I fished West Point yesterday morning from my boat. Despite the forecast of 15knots we managed a really nice morning on the water. We put in about 5am and had a very comfortable 26knot run all the way across the bay. 

We tried several marks within 10km of the island. But, despite very good shows on the sounder, the fish were very quiet. Most of the marks produced the odd small Mackerel and Nannygai, but the bite was slow to say the least. I mainly worked metal slices for Mackerel and some big Gulp grubs for bottom fish. Dad fished bait but also threw around a Gulp plastic for a while. In fact the fish of the morning, a 74cm Flathead, was caught by Dad on a big Gulp grub. It was the biggest flatty I have see in a while, and quit a surprise from 10m of water around a small wreck mark. 

As the wind picked up during the morning we worked our way back in close to the island. Again we found good marks with plenty of fish showing, but just not biting. Dad managed a 'just legal' Nannygai and we boated another couple of Macks. 

We headed home just after lunchtime, and despite heading directly into a stiff 15knots we were able to hold a comfortable 22knot speed all the way. It was a bit of an eye opener for me. I tend to discount those 10-15knot days in favour for better weather. But when beggars can't be choosers, its still possible to have a nice day on the water. Especially just floating around the island. And we still brought home enough fish for a couple of feeds. 

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Trolling for Spanish Mackerel (Part 2 of 4)

(part 1) (part 2) (part 3) (part 4)
Article by Nicko_Cairns

Trolling Times
I find that the best trolling times are before the sun has risen too high in the sky (remember that Macks don’t have eyelids so they generally go deep during the brightest times of the day), and later in the afternoon. A general guideline is to start trolling just as the morning light starts creeping over the horizon until around 9-9:30am. On overcast days this time zone can be extended considerably, especially on very dull days. In the afternoon the best times are from approximately two hours before sunset until the sun has completely set, so from around 4-4:30pm in North Queensland. Remember that Macks have excellent eye sight and don’t be afraid to troll until the light has completely passed. Again, on very bright days this window is smaller and on very overcast days this window is bigger. There is always the exception to the rule and I’ve caught a couple of Macks at midday when targeting Coral Trout.

Wire or Mono?
I have tried straight mono, multi-strand wire, plastic heat-bonded wire and single strand wire. These days I steer clear of straight mono, heat-bonded wire and multi-strand wire, I exclusively use single strand copper coloured wire. Mono works very well but you will lose lures/baits. I feel sorry for any Mack that has to swim with a lure sticking from its gob so avoid using just mono, plus I rarely lose a lure/bait-rig anymore. Multi-strand wire works but I find that single strand gets a better hit ratio. I’ve tried different lengths of wire and find that around 30cm (1 foot) of wire is plenty, especially when you adhere to the hook-up techniques mentioned later in this article. The fish will generally hit toward the rear of the lure/bait and I generally don’t stop the boat, so there’s no need for meters of wire. Note that in the Torres Strait many fishermen use very heavy single strand wire in long lengths, attached to long lengths or rope AND they often bag out! So ignore the wire myth and use single strand wire. If you aren’t getting hits you haven’t found the fish so move rather than over-thinking your rig.

One word of caution, never use bright swivels or anything silver on your terminal tackle, always use black swivels or your lure/bait loss will be much higher. The flash of swivels definitely attracts macks and often Macks are found in numbers, competing for food…and your bright flashy swivel. Check your lure/bait after every hit, obviously you’ll require a new bait each time but you may require new wire. If in doubt, change it. I’ve found that I usually get multiple fish on single strand wire without any problems; it’s more solid than most people think. I generally use a swivel at the end of my braid, connected to a Hawaiian snap clip: ( I use the 152lb model as it’s large and easy to use. This is the only type of snap clip that I use anymore; fish simply can’t undo this clip. I highly recommend getting your other snap clips and giving them to a mate, they simply lose fish. Macks can hit your bait/lure at phenomenal speeds, so only the best terminal tackle will do.

Attached to my Hawaiian snap I have a one foot single strand copper colour which is haywire twisted onto the lure/bait rig. Now this may cause some arguments but I generally don’t use a mono leader at all anymore, basically by using braid straight to wire it removes any chance of slack line during the hook-up, shock leaders etc are designed to flex and lessen the impact where a lower drag setting can do exactly the same thing without introducing slack line into the equation. Just my opinion and it works for me, however I’ve had much better hook-up conversion rates with this rig than with any mono in the equation. I do still have one reel rigged with mono but mainly as I haven’t gotten around to getting it spooled with braid, I will sometime but I still use it fairly often, although usually as a back-up combo. So in summary I have a doubled section of braid of approximately 30cm long, this is attached to a black swivel, the black swivel is attached to a Hawaiian snap clip which is attached to my wire. The wire is then obviously attached to a lure, or to a bait rig. So when I want to change a lure or the bait rig I just undo the Hawaiian snap and replace it, simple. I realise that most people want a shock leader so by all means use one but unless you are fishing really shallow reefs, or stopping your boat this is unnecessary in my opinion.

Lately I’ve purchased an EZ Twist (, this product is fantastic and I’m in no way sponsored or endorsed by this product. I can rig a bait/lure in around 30 seconds with this product and produce beautiful barrel rolls every time. I thoroughly recommend this product to anyone.

Possibly one of the most contentious issues amongst trolling fans…speed. I’ve tried various speeds and here are my thoughts. For bibbed lures I troll between 2-4 knots depending on the lure. I search for bibbed lures that will swim really well around the 2 knot mark. This means I can swim the same lures alongside a dead bait.

I watch the rod tip for indications of how the lures are swimming; the more vibrations through the rod tip the better. My favourite bibbed lure is a large (30cm) bibbed lure called the ‘GH Signature’ lure and only costs around $15 from my local tackle store. It doesn’t even need anything upgraded, it’s good to go straight from the box. This lure comes in metallic colours and ‘waggles’ nicely in the water at very low speeds, Macks seem to find this lure irresistible. See the below picture of one of these lures that has been destroyed after several outings. The last fish swam into the side of the boat hence the broken bib! I know, even fish can be uncoordinated I guess! Rather than swim this lure exclusively, I regularly swim it with other lures and so far it seems to be very effective amongst more expensive company. I generally don’t exceed 4 knots with bibbed lures though as I like the Macks to get a good look at the lure. With bibless lures this changes to at least 6 knots. These are different lures that definitely swim better at higher speeds.

You can swim bibless lures as fast as you’d like, up to around 12 knots or so for other pelagics such as Wahoo, however for Macks 6-8 knots is plenty. You can cover a lot more ground at these speeds and this can be a good option for trolling large reef edges, additionally some very large bibless lures are made from metal/lead and are heavy. Some of these lures easily troll around the 10 meter depth when given plenty of line, especially so on braided line. Ideally these lures should be trolled around ½ to ¾ of the water depth so Macks can attack the lure from underneath or parallel. Be cognisant of how heavy your bibless lures are and watch the angle of the line to estimate the approximate depth. If you are able to swim the lure near your depth sounder and you may see the depth on the screen. I have bibless lures for different depth, some wooden bibless lures sit just under the surface and some lead/metal bibless lures sink like the titanic.

Warning… you don’t want to be occasionally hitting the bottom as you would with estuary trolling or you’ll occasionally lose your lures to bommies etc. You also want to explore the area with slightly shallower lures first so there’s no unexpected bommies/pinnacles that will snag your lures. Additionally if you have charts of the area have a good look for potential trolling locations and also a to gain an idea of the general depth (remembering the tides). Give your lures a good wide berth of bommies/pinnacles, there’s no need to troll within a few meters of them, as previously stated the Macks have very good eyesight, 20 meters is more than adequate if the water is clean. If the water is dirty you shouldn’t be trolling there in the first place, go and find clean water! Those big pelagic eyes work better in the clean stuff. The only exception to this rule is when you have a convergence of dirty water and clear water, trolling in and out of the dirty water can make your lures/baits look like baitfish trying to hide.

Swim-bait speed
For swim baits (dead baits) I prefer a speed of around 2-3 knots, this allows the Macks plenty of time to see the bait and ensures that the hooks stay in the bait; if you troll much quicker the hooks generally tend to start to pull out of the bait, ruining its action and wasting the bait. There are plenty of dead-bait rigs available on the www, and in your local tackle store. I personally prefer the wog-head style rig with a nose-cone to secure the fish to the rig. Ask your local tackle store as there’s plenty of options, the easiest probably being the chin-guard style rig.

TIP: regardless of what you choose to swim, always check its action at the side of the boat. Lures that swim to one side may need their bib adjusted to avoid tangles. Baits that twist should be changed immediately. Also when changing direction always use large turning circles to avoid tangles, the larger the turning circle the better. Don’t be tempted to lob or cast these rigs into the water, let them run straight off your rod into the water, apply your drag momentarily and watch the swimming action. I do the same with my lures too to ensure a hook doesn’t catch the wire or my line.

  • Lure Colours
  • Braid or Mono
  • Hookup Techniques

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Boat for Sale - 2009 CruiseCraft Outsider 575

Cruise Craft Outsider 575 - $62,000

• First Sold on Showroom floor Jan 2009
• DF140HP Suzuki 4 stroke outboard
• 20/14" stainless prop
• 125 Hours
• Warranty valid till 2015
• Motor Warranty till 2014
• Redco dual axle trailer
• Mechanical override brakes
• Lowrance 520 Chart Plotter
• Hummingbird 778C Colour Sounder
• Stainless Targa Top with rocket launches
• Front and side clears
• GME GX 600 VHF Radio
• 406 MHZ Epirb
• All off shore safety gear
• MP3 player
• 50lt Freshwater Bladder
• Baitboard, spotlights, deckwash, bilge pump, bait tank
• Padded side combings
• Rear lounge
• 160LTR Fuel Tank
• Dual Battery isolater
• Boat Storage Cover

Rego until July 2012
Trailer Rego until Jan 2012

Contack Ross Radloff on 0408763939

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Threadybusters in the Haughton

Today I went for a fish in the Haughton with forum member Jake (snake). There has been a lot of discussion on the forum recently about the new Threadybuster range of lures, and Jake has been one of the more successful users. I have never used one and was keen to see what all the fuss is about. I don't yet own a Threadybuster, so I had to borrow one from Jake of the day! Thanks mate!

We left my place about 5am and arrived at the ramp a little too early with first light only just starting. So initially we didn't venture too far, just to a deep section of bend downstream of the ramp. There were some good shows in the sounder in open water around the 3-4m range. This is ideal country for the threadybuster as they are fast sinking and not particularly snag proof. The technique was to drift with the current, making long casts back upstream working the lure back toward the boat. The lure is allowed to sink to the bottom before a couple of quick snaps of the rod to lift it off the bottom. It then sinks again before repeating the process. It didn't take long and we were both getting taps on the lure on the sink. Then finally decent fish connects to my lure and takes off with a few powerful surges. It had us guessing for a moment, but turned out to be a nice little creek GT.

We kept working the area and managed a whole host of species including GT, Salmon, Jack, Fingermark, Grunter and Queenfish. In fact, we had caught quite a few fish before we even landed 2 of the same species!

Once the sun came up we swapped over to some more snag-proof lures and headed upstream to work into the timber. I changed over to a trusty prong and Jake worked an assortment of hard-bodies and plastics including the D.O.A prawn. The action wasn't thick, but came in bursts of fish. We managed a few small fish including Bream, Flathead, Jack and Rat Barra.

Then finally Jake puts his hard-body into some timber and the water explodes as a Barra launches itself from the water. This was a good fish and had Jake working hard to keep it from the timber. At one stage it took a run under the boat and jumped on the other side, leaving the braid a little worn in one section! But after some tense moments the fish was lead into the net. It measured 75cm and was happily release to fight another day.

After this fish things went very quiet. So we headed toward the mouth to again try the threadybuster. The tide was almost bottoming out and very few snags remained in the water. We decided to work a deep (4-5m) section of channel along side one of the big sand bars. There was some broken ground and a little bait showing on the sounder. It was again a little slow going, but we managed 4 of 5 Grunter from the area. Most were small, but Jake nailed one well over the minimum legal size that was kept for dinner.

Overall it was a consistent and rewarding day. These threadybuster lures open up a whole new section of the creek to work as a lure caster. I know I will be heading into ProTackle this week to pick up a few for my tackle box. THREADYBUSTERS NOW IN STOCK AT PROTACKLE]!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Mixed Bag form Maggie Shoals

With 2 weeks school holidays I have been working hard in the garden and around the house while it blew 25knots just hoping to get a break before school started again. And yesterday was just the break I was after. Seabreeze had been showing all week a gap in the weather for Wednesday, but knowing how easily things change on seebreeze and the day gets closer, I wasn't convinced. But then Tuesday turned out be pretty good, and Wednesday was looking like a pearler!

With this being the only day in the 2 week holiday period to get the boat out I was going to make the most of it! I arrived at the ramp at 5am with Tania and the kids. Dad was already there ready to load his gear into the boat and join us for the day.

Our first stop was to be Maggie Shoals (well...a mark I have in that general vicinity anyway). The breeze was very light and on our tails. I was easily able to sit the boat on 4,500rpm and 26knots all the way while Tania and the kids slept in the cabin. The new Suzuki hummed along beautifully, and it was one of the quickest trips to the shoals I have ever had.

We pulled up on location with just a few fish showing on the sounder. Not quite the show I would have liked. But sure enough, first bait down and Dad hooks a good fish. Several strong runs along the bottom has us anticipating something Red! And we were soon proven right as a nice Nannygai was led into the net.

I hook-up next, a good fish on a Gulp plastic. This is my first fish on a new Shimano Stella 10000sw I'm trying out. And it was a good one to start with too! Pushing the 50lb Power Pro to the limits, I eventually caught site of my fish...a shark. Keen to get my jig head back I put everything into trying to land this beast, but eventually he bit me off and swam away. Oh well, its bad luck to keep the first fish on a new outfit anyway! I was now stuffed before the day had even started!

By now the sun is starting to come up and everyone is getting bit-offs. And sure enough, my next plastic is engulfed by a speedster! A good test of the Stella drag...the blistering run of a Spanish Mackerel. Somehow the single hook was pinned in a position that prevented a bite off and the fish was lead to the waiting gaff.

I was really keen to get into a good Nannygai on this outfit! But everyone was suffering from bite offs. So on went and 45g Bumpa Bar. This proved to be a deadly technique, and soon Tania pulled out the TwinPower 6000 and attached a metal slice herself. The Mackerel were thick and clearly hungry, we even witnessed one jump a good 6-10 feet in the air before a perfect 10 point dive back into the water. Even a spectator Dolphin swam just past the boat taking in all the action. It didn't take too long and we soon had our 9 fish in the eski...Time to give the kids a go!!

My children are only 4 and 6 years old. But they love their fishing. A 50lb Stella is a bit much to hold, and even the drag pressure of the 30lb TwinPower is a bit tough. So I have a Sustain 4000 with 20lb sitting on a Loomis rod. Down it came and I attached a Bumpa Bar. The kids can't wind fast enough to encourage a Spanish Mackerel, so I did the hookup and then passed the rod on. Lachlan was first, and he did very well. I held the rod off the gunwale and assisted a little with the lift, but the rest he did himself. It took a little longer than usual on the 20lb gear, and there was the constant fear of sharks. But he soon had a nice fish beside the boat.

Sebastian was next. At only 4 years of age he needed a lot more help. He just couldn't turn the handle easily against the pressure. But he did his best and had a blast. He soon had his fish in the boat and smile that stayed on his face for the rest of the day.

With plenty of Mackerel in the boat and the Nannygai not playing the game we decided to clean up and look for red fish somewhere else. While cleaning the fish we attracted a large school if big whaler sharks. The kids were kept entertained when we tied a section of 'guts' to the end of a length of rope! Once finished we pointed the nose toward shark shoal. And as soon as we did I spotted a pair of Humpback Whales jumping clear of the water in the distance. Tania loves her Whale watching, so we had to head over for a closer look. We watched for probably a half hour or so and then headed for Shark Shoal.

When we arrived there were no boats on the mark and very little showing on the sounder. Not like this spot at all! But we dropped the baits and I put down a Gulp. I was the first to get a decent fish on, but it was soon lost to the sharks. Probably a good Nannygai! Dad was next, and although he managed to beat the sharks, it turned out to be a Golden Trevalley anyway. Probably the reason the sharks left it alone!

It was now the middle of the day and very quiet. I'm keen to discover some new Red country out this way, so we put out a pair of lures and started a quick troll toward bomber wreck, always with one eye on the sounder. But after 45mins of a 2hr trip we got board and pulled the pin on that idea. We sped to bomber to discover 4 or 5 other boats fishing the mark. Not much looked like it was happening on any of the boats, but we gave it a couple of drifts. I managed a good Queenfish and Tania a smaller GT. Then Dad hooked into something solid! A long hard fight and some powerful runs had us guessing as to its identity. But soon a big fat cod emerged from the depths. We tried desperately to pierce the swim bladder and send it home, but it just wouldn't release. After 15mins of so of trying to get it to go we decided it was a keeper. At about 80cm it wan't a monster, but we would rather have released it.

Last stop of the day was a shoal mark on the way home. It was getting late in the afternoon and we were desperate for another Nannygai to add to one that came first drop of the day!! It didn't take too long at this new spot and Tania was into a good fish. I was fishing my plastics on the Stella, and trolling lures were still attached to my overheads. So dad had passed his Spheros to Tania as it was rigged ready for a pillie. This was a good fish and had her working hard! Being the good husband that I am I pulled in my plastic to get out of the way. But a nice big Cobia with mouth wide open had other ideas! It followed the plastic up and turned away at the boat. I couldn't resist! A quick flick of the plastic back out and the splash had the Cobia's attention! I didn't even need to wind, he was onto it immediately. I set the hooks and it was off!!! Tania is now yelling at me "now we will loose both fish". And with the two fish going in all sorts of directions she was almost right! Fortunately some very firm pressure on my fish had it boat-side and in the net in double quick time...even if a touch green! (We were so busy with Tania's fish that we forgot the photo)!

Next minute Tania is yelling '' as line is diminishing from the spool. I start the motor to chase the fish and look over my shoulder to see the braid all gone and the mono backing vanishing into the water! We followed the fish around for about 20mins before she finally worked it within range. A GT, and a big one! We did a jaw gaff and pulled it through the transom door. Tania was stuffed and had no hope of holding the fish for a photograph. We positioned her on the eski and Dad helped lay the fish on her lap. After the pic we did a solid 5min swim beside the boat. When the gaff was removed the fish gave several strong beats of the tail and disappeared into the depths. A good release! So here was I with a Stella to test out and Tania lands the biggest fish of the day on a trusty Spheros! 

That was it, Tania was stuffed, the kids were tired, I was hurting and sun wasn't far from setting. Time for home. We had had a fantastic day on the water, and the run home was in glass out conditions. 5000rpm and 30knots all the way back. A round trip of almost 140km used 85lts in the 4-stroke Suzuki. Not too shabby for the big block 150!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Trolling for Spanish Mackerel (Part 1 of 4)

(part 1) (part 2) (part 3) (part 4)
Article by Nicko_Cairns

First of all I’d like to thank a couple of leading publications for not replying to my initial enquiry about publishing my first article. Subsequently I’m publishing this on my favourite fishing website: Fishing Townsville.

Secondly there are a lot of articles about trolling for pelagic fish such as Spanish Mackerel (Macks) that subscribe to just one technique on all occasions; I enjoy swearing at these articles as they really aren’t doing justice to you, the reader. Why? Because to be able to dismiss techniques you have to try them at different times and compare them to your favourite technique (when possible). If the technique works ask yourself why, i.e. if you are only fishing the top of the water column, don’t dismiss a deep reef as a Macks spot if you don’t get hits, try fishing the deeper parts of the water column too. If you swear by pink coloured lures is that due to you mainly fishing pink coloured lures? Have you thought about how colour changes through the water column before selecting the lure?

Dead baits are my preferred technique, however when in search mode (watching the sounder for Macks and bait) lures are often better as you cover more ground quickly. Especially bibless lures, so don’t be afraid to have several rods set up for different techniques, you might find that you prefer to swim lures and cover three times as much ground (or more), then swap to baits or a combination of baits/lures once you find the fish. Anyway end of rant, be flexible I guess I’m saying and don’t anticipate, fish to the conditions.

There is a lot of debate about techniques on trolling for Macks; understandably this can be confusing for people new to trolling for this prime sportfish. Should you troll dead baits or lures? What speeds? How many baits/lures? Where should you start trolling? Should you use wire or mono? What type of wire? What length of wire? What rigs? What colour lures? What depths should you troll? The aim of this article is to demystify trolling techniques and explain techniques that work.

Firstly, each person you ask about trolling for Macks will give you their preferred technique, usually this is the first technique that yielded results for them, and they’ve stuck with it since. Some people seem to shroud their Macks techniques in mystery making it appear to be much more difficult than it actually is.

I first started trolling for Macks exclusively on lures, then changed to dead baits (thanks to my good mate Shayne for showing me his excellent techniques) and now do a mixture. Here’s my opinion on the different techniques, why they work and what I think is ‘usually’ the best technique. Of note is that I do not discuss trolling live-baits within this article, I find it much easier to use dead garfish than to attempt to get live-baits pre-dawn prior to trolling. Also I don’t use a down-rigger so I’m unable to comment on down-riggers, however having a large range of lures and dead-bait rigs helps when you need to fish a certain part of the water column. Knowing roughly what depth your lures swim at also helps. I do use other techniques for increased depth such as a diving disc and ball/barrel sinkers for increased depth but that’s another article in itself. Also of note is that I’ve tried quite a few different techniques at the same time and have noted what techniques work better than others, so if you can’t be bothered reading this entire article in its entirety, here’s a very basic rule of what I think works the best on most occasions:
  • dead bait on wog-head rig (which come with a synthetic skirt), or chin-guard rig with coloured plastic octopus. Best colours: bright fluoro colours, white, or dark colours
  • maximum of one foot of single strand copper coloured wire
  • trolling speed 2-3 knots
  • troll structure, search for bait
  • fish two different depths when practical (this might entail using a dead bait alongside a bibbed minnow (yes you can do it as long as the bibbed minnow swims well at slow speeds)
  • don’t introduce slack line at any stage of the fight.
These are a quick and dirty on what I find works most of the time, for more in-depth information read on:

Before you swim any bait/lure, you need to find structure. Macks are no different to any other fish in that they inhabit structure (think bait and protection) such as pinnacles, wrecks and reefs. Although sometimes they may be swimming around the structure at a distance, they are still basically going to the supermarket and spending time looking for food. While spearfishing in North Queensland I regularly saw Macks swimming close to reef edges, with the frequency of sightings I believe that there was one main reason that the fish chose to swim along the edges… food. It must take a lot of energy for such a large fish to constantly swim, so eating must be high on their agenda. As we all know bait congregates around structure so the Macks are drawn to the same locations. In addition to reef edges, Macks also congregate around solo bommies and pinnacles, often a pinnacle located in a large area of flat seabed will be a Mack’s hotspot. Macks also congregate around inshore and offshore exposed rocks and islands. Islands are probably favoured by Macks as they are generally surrounded by reef and/or bommies (think structure) and bait fish like to frequent structure for protection, including shallow structure where they can attempt to hide from predators. Macks can also usually be found swimming under any large bait ball. The longer a bait ball has been harassed by Giant Trevally and Tuna at the surface and mid-water column, the more likely that Macks are swimming underneath picking off the scraps and occasionally rampage through the school (sometimes even launching from the water, meters into the air!).

Note: sure some Macks travel very long distances in open water, but the best chance you have of finding them is by finding structure and bait together.

Importantly there’s a big difference between a school of Tuna etc rising to eat bait then moving and an established bait ball. An established ball will be hundreds or thousands of fish at the surface with a large amount of fish activity, don’t ever stop trolling structure to chase small amounts of surface activity unless you want to catch Tuna/Trevally. Frequently moving schools of feeding fish are more likely to be Tuna/Trevally herding bait, a tightly packed bait ball is the result of successful herding. Once the bait is at the surface and the water is erupting it’s time to consider trolling these areas for Macks, expect a lot of by-catch though (Tuna and Trevally).

I find that if you swim lures/baits slightly to the side of a well-established bait ball, and swim these fairly deep (6-10 meters) you will find Macks. Should you swim surface baits/lures in this same situation you are more likely to catch various species of Tuna and the ubiquitous GTs. Don’t get me wrong, GTs and Tuna are a lot of fun but when you are targeting Mackerel exclusively then catching by-product species can be frustrating and significantly impact on your dead baits. This can also waste valuable time, with a chance that the bait ball will consumed by these predators before you can target it again. Basically, the more trolling runs past bait balls the better, so go deep in this situation. Avoid driving through the bait ball but you can run your lures/baits back quite a long way and change direction of the boat so the lures/baits swim through the bait school. Be prepared to lose the occasional lure when fishing around bait balls as sometimes fish will swim into your line. Bait balls are one of the few times that I run a long length of line; I’ll talk about my usual setup shortly.

TIP: When you find an isolated piece of structure regardless of its type, circumnavigate the structure either in a circle pattern, or trolling each edge individually. Trolling individually means trolling an Eastern reef edge (for example) then continuing past the reef edge and performing a slow turn before trolling the entirety of the next reef edge. What’s the advantage of this? You troll the entire edge and have more control over your lure/bait course than doing large circles. Additionally the lures/baits will swim past the reef edge into deeper water where pelagics may be waiting. For smaller structure though (a sole small pinnacle etc) I prefer to circumnavigate first, then if I haven’t had a hit, I’ll troll directly past on each side. You don’t have to troll extremely close to the structure, Macks have good eyesight (and you should be trolling in relatively clean water but more on that later).

If a reef is deeper than your trolling spread depth you can troll directly over the reef, ensure your lures aren’t too close to the bottom as Trout love living under ledges on top of reefs (ask any spearfisherman) and you need some room to fight should a large Trout, GT or Cod decide to eat your offering. These same ledges, bommies and pinnacles on a reef are also fishing hotspots for other types of fishing such as lightly weighted bottom-bashing and lure casting, so once the prime trolling times have passed by you can target these same areas with different techniques. Pay attention to your sounder when trolling and you’ll find these little spots of gold every once in a while. Pay too much attention to the view and you might miss these spots. Ideally both you and a deckie should look at the sounder fairly often and discuss what you see, ensuring these spots get marked.

When you get a strike ensure you mark it as a waypoint and troll past the same point again, you may be close to structure that will yield multiple fish. Should you find an area that produces fish for no apparent reason, explore the area with your sounder outside of the prime trolling times to locate whats attracting the fish to the area. One reef I like to troll has only one major pinnacle of note, so I circumnavigate the reef first to cover the drop-off, and then cut across the reef to troll the pinnacle (paying attention to tide times and lure running depths). I troll past the pinnacle at least three times then continue to the next spot. Covering ground will find you more fish, be prepared to pull the troll lines in and move to another reef/bit of structure.

  • Trolling Times
  • Wire or Mono
  • Trolling Speed