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More Than Bream in Winter

There's nothing quite like watching the sun rise on a glassed out Winter's morning over Moreton Bay... with the sound of a screaming reel, as a snapper swims off with what it thought would be its breakfast. Winter in South East Queensland is easily my favourite time of the year for fishing, with a wide range on species on offer for all types of fisherman. Flathead move into the rivers and creeks, bream start their spawning run at the river mouth and in the bay, tailor and bay snapper become easier targets and trophy fish such as threadfin salmon and mulloway (jewfish) become more concentrated in our river systems.

Making the decision on what to target is not always an easy one, however I let the weather make up my mind, with good days seeing me head into the bay chasing snapper and tailor, whilst on the days of not so perfect weather I chase the other mentioned species in my local river.

For people wanting to chase snapper, hours of low light seem to be best in shallow water and as the sun rises they will move deeper. Shallow reefs, rubble banks, cockle beds and drop offs are a good starting areas to cast soft plastics and small blades, with lightly weighted plastics being the best option. ZMan 4" StreakZ Curly TailZ are a favourite of mine for pan size fish, with the ZMan 7" Scented Jerk ShadZ being my go-to for big fish. By matching these two baits with a light jighead and a heavy gauge hook, such as a TT HeadlockZ HD, you're sure to come tangled with a bay bruiser. Finding areas away from heavy boat traffic is very important when chasing snapper, with mid-week sessions providing the best results.

Bream and flathead are both species that I target at the same time and are awesome fun once you have found an area where both are in numbers. When targeting bream and flathead I use a bait that is small enough for bream to eat, yet still a bait that a flathead won't hesitate to eat. I find the ZMan 2.5" GrubZ and ZMan 2.5" Slim SwimZ perfect, matched on a TT HeadlockZ Finesse, light wire hook. With plenty of Pro-Cure Inshore Saltwater or Mullet Super Gel Scent applied every dozen casts or once a fish has been hooked. Areas worth trying for bream and flathead include rocky shoals, bridge pylons, weed flats and drop offs. In hours of heavy sunlight I find that areas that have plenty of shade are a good starting point.

Most people associate tailor fishing with casting twelve foot rods into surf gutters on Fraser or Moreton Island in September. I find from June through to August the best time to target tailor in Moreton Bay, with good numbers of reasonable sized fish on offer. Early morning and late afternoon into the evening are the best times to target tailor and choosing a plastic similar to the baitfish in the area will yield the best results. The most common baitfish encountered in Moreton Bay are hardy heads and the ZMan 3" MinnowZ in Opening Night colour are the perfect imitation. ZMan 3.75" StreakZ are another favourite of mine, both matched on a TT HeadlockZ jighead. Tailor tend to feed high in the water column so a light jighead works well for a slow retrieve and a heavy jighead works well when making long casts and using a fast retrieve. When a school of surface feeding fish have been located, ZMan Pop ShadZ are the best option, rigged on a TT ChinlockZ hook, with plenty of Pro-Cure scent added.

Fishing for jew (mulloway) and threadfin salmon in South East Queensland's rivers and creeks is becoming increasingly popular, as the thought of catching fish between 80-120cm is a major incentive for lure fishos. Although both can be finicky feeders, having patience once locating a school will eventually show results. Having a good depth sounder and spending plenty of time driving around trying to locate fish is often boring, but is the best way to get confidence in the spot you are fishing.

It's no secret that deep holes are a good spot to fish for jew (mulloway) and threadfin, with bridges, drop offs and areas that hold plenty of bait being just as good. Paddle tail style plastics are perfect for both species, with ZMan 4" SwimmerZ and 6" SwimmerZ being hard to beat. ZMan 4" StreakZ Curly TailZ are equally as good as paddle tail plastics, with ZMan 3" Scented ShrimpZ and the 4" version being not far behind. By interchanging through your lures, you will maximize your chances of a hook up. Retrieves should be changed quite regularly, with small hops, a simple slow wind and a burn and kill all working on different days.

Although fishing in winter may not be the most comfortable time of year to fish, the chance of catching a trophy fish will soon make you forget about your frozen fingers. So pull out the Ugg boots, whack on a jumper and get out on the water to give yourself a chance at tangling with one of the many species on offer in South East Queensland and other parts of Australia.

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