For those located in Southeast Queensland we are inevitably coming into our cooler months. A time that can be some of the hardest fishing between the seasons of our warm water fish in the rivers like the Mangrove Jack and moving into the cooler water species like the mysterious Mulloway. A lot of anglers struggle to adapt to the change and continue to use techniques that may have been working for the last few months, but as Jacks shut down and the Jews slowly come on, a change in tactic is in order. Lure fishing for them in areas where they actively feed can come to an abrupt holt so going back to basics can and will make all the difference.
Mangrove jacks thrive in warm watered estuaries throughout the summer months where they can be caught quite commonly in water as shallow as waste deep and with an array of techniques due to their aggressive nature, but through the cooler months they can shut down to the point of wondering if they are even there. The mulloway is quite opposite, they move in with the cooler water and generally get around undetected by predator and by many angler. Both species are highly prized, and are the pinnacle of fishing south east Queensland's estuaries
As the jacks drop back and start to quiet down they move into what I call "waiting bays", and the school Jew start to move in with the jacks. This crossover can make for some incredible fishing when most people are getting ready to give up. Waiting bays are substantial holes in our rivers that give the fish ample shelter and food, day and night. Drifting live baits and slow rolled plastics through places like this is the best technique to fool Jacks and Jews at this time of year. This time last year I had the pleasure to experience one of the most incredible fishing sessions I had ever seen, 15 Jacks and 11 Mulloway in no more than 3 hours of fishing in what is now my favourite "waiting bay". The bite was nothing short of spectacular. With this in the back of my head I have been out in search of another magical session. While I haven't been able to better myself I've still been managing plenty of fish with some pretty awesome double hook-ups along the way.
Plastic's fished deep, with heavy jig heads are the go for lure fishing. Paddle tailed lures rolled slowly along the bottom get in the face of the lounging fish. Casting up or down current (it doesn't matter so much when you're using jig heads up to one ounce) let the lure get down, and proceed to wind slowly while on occasion just dropping your rod tip about 30cm to 50cm to see if you are still close to the bottom, this slow roll technique should pretty much be your best friend during this crossover period.
For those not so keen on losing a few lures by dragging them along the bottom, live baiting is how you'll get attached to some ripper fish. Using medium sized baits (as the Jacks metabolism slows during the cooler months) and 2 hook rigs like the Snell, will give you the best hook up rate. They just don't hit as aggressively when they are cold. Medium weight gear around the 20 lb’s seems to extract fish better than anything else and 30 lb leader gives enough protection but retains the sensitivity you need.
So instead of giving the fish a break for a while get out there at night, rug up, find yourself some waiting bays, try different techniques until you find what works and don't forget that while things are getting tougher don't discount the humble live bait it could be worth it.