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Summertime Plastics off Fraser Island

Andy Gunn

With the warmer weather setting in and a good run on pelagic species off the Sunshine Coast, we had planned to do a two day trip up off the bottom end of Fraser Island. Heading out with a couple of keen bait fisherman, I managed to slip in my plastics gear and an assortment of ZMan plastics. The plan for the first day was to call into a bait ground mark that we have, not far out from the Wide Bay Bar and get some livies for the guys, before heading out a bit wider and see what we could find.

After crossing the wide bay bar we shortly arrived at our bait ground mark. A bit of sounding around and we soon found a good show of livies on the sounder. After anchoring the boat and a quick check of the sounder I could see that we were right on the mark. I could also see some bigger arches holding off the edge of the bait. Not being able to help myself, I rigged up a ZMan 8" StreakZ XL in the colour of Opening Night and matched this to a 3/4oz HeadlockZ HD jighead with a 6/0 hook.

With my first few drops down not drawing too much attention, I retrieved the plastic and added some Pro-Cure Bloody Tuna Super Gel Scent. This time, instead of free spooling the plastic down to the bottom, I cast the plastic out and then let it free spool to the bottom. Once the plastic had hit the bottom I then skipped it back to the boat making sure to keep the plastic in contact with the bottom.

After a couple more retrieves and a few unknown bumps I was starting to wonder what was down there, maybe I needed to downsize the plastic. Again, I found myself sending out another cast and leaving the bail arm open to free spool the plastic to the bottom, however this time the plastic didn't make it to the bottom before the line started ripping off the spool.

Flicking the bail arm over I set the hook on what felt like a solid fish and after an initial run, trying to get me back to the cover of the reef, I managed to get the fish's head pointing up. With the familiar bumps through the line I was fairly sure I had hooked a nice snapper. The fish was not going to give up easily though. Finally, after a few more solid runs, I had the fish coming to the boat and a few minutes later had a nice 80cm snapper at the boat.

After this fish was boated the baitfish had spread out, so we headed out to see what we could find out wider. I managed to pull a few better squire (smaller snapper) out wider as well as a few Moses perch.

With the forecast looking good for the second day, we decided to have a look at the bait ground mark again and then head out from there. After finding the baitfish and anchoring over them, we used a little berley this time just to see what would happen.

It was a quieter start than the previous day but we were happy to wait and see what would eventuate. I made a long cast out the back of the boat, placed the rod into a rod holder and turned to get a drink. Hearing a screaming drag I turned to see the Terez doubled over, picked up the rod and set the hook. I was unsure of what had eaten my ZMan plastic.

The first run, after hooking the fish around mid-water, was a deep run and on a couple of occasions I was expecting the fish to bury me back in the reef. After a few more good runs, this time staying near the surface and doing the best it could to wrap me around the anchor rope, I had managed to work the fish to the boat. As soon as the fish spotted the boat it made a couple more runs, this time heading deep again. This is the time when a lot of fish are lost, but knowing my drag was set right all I could do was hang on and work the fish back toward the boat. Once the fish was on board the boat I could sit back and enjoy what I had just experienced.

While the other guys on the boat were making the call 'get that plastic back down there he will have a mate as well', I returned with the comment 'nah boys, see if you can get one on your baits'. I then took the opportunity to pick up my can of Coke that had been rolling around on the floor of the boat while all the action had been happening. Sitting back and having a drink, I watched the other guys sending their baits down.

After a bit of a straightening up the plastic was ready to be sent back down again. This time I went up the front of the boat and just started to free spool the plastic down again. As we were fishing in a bit over 40m of water, I was expecting a bit of a break to get the plastic to the bottom. It didn't seem to take too long before again line was ripping off the spool, with exactly the same run as the previous fish. This time I had a bit more confidence in what I had hooked. Again after the fish had come to the surface it then continued the fight down deep and after what felt like 7 or 8 minutes I had another cobia to the boat, this one around the 10kg mark.

It was smiles all around and again I was happy with my decision to sneak the soft plastic fishing gear and a few ZMan plastics on board.

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