FISHING FRIDAY: Coral Trout are stealing the show in CQ
CORAL trout are really stealing the show in recent times.
It has been years now since the green zones were introduced to our local area and the benefits just keep coming. Trout have increased in quantity right through our area to where most people can catch coral trout regularly.
The most common trout here are the bar-cheek. They live in country as shallow as one metre and we get them right out offshore. After fishing with one of the local trout men last year I have returned a couple of hand lines to the boat.
We bait fished very shallow water over rock shelves and in the middle of coral bombies. I lost a fair number of fish before landing any big trout on my 30lb braid and 50lb leader. My mate on the other hand had several in the boat without dropping one on his handline.
The old hand reel with 70lb mono has instant feel, touch and pull that you can’t get from our light gear. I had no trouble getting the bites and may have got a few more bites than the heavy mono, but turning the fish and getting it out of a coral hole was another story.
I used a handline for a while using bait and remembered how we used to do it before the modern gear came along. Lures are my favourite method and once I switched back over to vibes and paddle tails, my conversion rate increased significantly.
Trout will usually grab the lure while it is moving away and you already have the weight heading in the right direction as opposed to bait where the trout is heading for home by the time it is in his mouth. I have more fun using lures on light gear but the hand reels will always have a place working baits in shallow water.
I live by the rule that if someone can do something better than you then ask them for advice. Up here we have an abundance of young fellers who have mastered the latest styles and fishing trends. Whether it be jigging vibes on the reef to skip casting into mangrove root bases or stickbaiting for species us old blokes never dreamt of, they are opening up a whole new game.
One of the top youngies has been giving me some great tips that enhance what I already do. Last weekend we checked out as many shallow reef spots as possible to test some of the new bream shads and paddle tails. We wanted to find spots that had a current pushing into them while still being fishable from a small boat. Luckily between The Keppels, Curtis and Facing Islands there are a stack of those sorts of spots.
The first thing to get right is how much weight you need for the purpose. I found that weights up to half an ounce got the plastics to the bottom in the moving water we fished and went down to three eighths in the slower stuff.
There were a lot of hardyheads and baitfish present on all the headlands and reefy shelves so we matched lure size to them. Over the course of a day we had landed hundreds of fish from hussar, moses perch, stripeys, wire netting and gold spot cod. At times we scored a fish per cast for fifteen minutes at a time and lost count of double hook ups when it reached two hundred. I know this sounds unbelievable even to us, but when the tally was done at the end of the day we probably missed a few.
The advantage of finding so many fish allowed us to try lots of techniques and tune our methods. In the end the natural colours easily beat everything else and both vibes and paddle tails caught the same amount of fish. The retrieves varied for each different lure except soft twitches giving more of a flutter worked better than a hard solid vibe.
Don’t be afraid to stop your lure mid retrieve and let it settle because the moment it moves again it can get hammered. I also learned that there are so many more fish in our heavily fished areas than I ever thought.