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Fly Fishing

Chasing Golden Trevalley on the Magnetic Island flats.


Enjoying one of the many beautiful beaches of Magnetic Island.

Wednesday 12 January 2011

GPS Location - Shark Shoal

Shark Shoal is one of the largest shoal patches off the Townsville area. It is home to a massive population of big reds, and during the cooler months it houses some of the biggest schools of Spanish Mackerel you will ever encounter. Other species you are likely to encounter  include Trevalley, Cobia, Rainbow Runner, Queenfish and Barracouda. The only problem with Shark Shoal is that it is very well named! Along with some big schools of fish, there are always the ever present 'men in grey coats'...the sharks!

Shark Shoal is located about 24nm from Townsville Harbour on the western edge of the Green Zone. The shoal itself is reasonably well known, but this particular GPS mark will put you dead onto where the best schools seem to hang the majority of the time. These sounder shots are taken while going past this mark.

Bottom fish are best targeted with pilchards, squid or fish strips on dropper rigs attached to heavy 50 or 80lb gear. Anchoring is possible, but drifting the various schools will usually be more productive. Once a fish is hooked it must be pumped to the boat as fast as possible to avoid being sharked. Its not unusual here to only boat 1 in 10 fish hooked. And sharks love the red fish most of all! Fish with drags locked up tight and pump as fast as your arms will allow. 

Pelagics, such as Spanish Mackerel, can be trolled up on diving lures fairly easily. Just work the lure through the bait schools at about 5 or 6 knots. But if a few boats are already working the area it can be difficult to get a good troll line. I believe the best method for targeting these fish is the use of high speed metals such as the Bumpa-Bars. Here the lure is simply alowed to sink to the bottom once the boat is positioned over a school of bait. The lure is then retrieved at high speed back to the surface. A sturdy reel capable of better than 1m of line per turn of the handle is needed, and 30lb would be considered a minimum if a fish is to have any chance to be boated before the sharks find it! Floating pillies on gang hooks will also account for plenty of Mackerel. The loss of metal slices and trolling lures can add up quickly when the sharks are thick. One technique worth trying is to 'free spool' the mackerel once hooked. A mackerel, without pressure of a line, will outrun a shark. But eventually it needs to be lead to the the boat!

The following video footage shows both the large schools of Spanish Mackerel and the large Sharks that gather on Shark Shoal. This place really is aptly named!

If you have some success from this mark them please take the time to return and tell us about it in the comments section.

GPS LOCATION (WGS-84): S18º 52.937' E147º 00.163'