Fishing Wrecks

By Dylan Brier Mills

Wrecks are an ideal place to fish in winter when the weather isn’t at its best. Up here off Cairns and the surrounding areas we are very lucky to have at least half a dozen within 25-30km of the coast. These vary from Ships, Containers, Planes & a few unknowns. The wrecks are in no more than 40m at the deepest but can come a good 6-8 meters off the bottom. With cover sometimes as big as 20m across the bottom, they create a perfect bait gathering area in turn attracting the big fish that we want to catch. 

These wrecks depending on exactly where they are hold all types of species including Mackerel, Cobia, Trevally (All), Spangled Emperor, Red Emperor, Cod, Fingermark, etc. Most of the fish are decent sized residents that take a lot of stopping and sometimes are unstoppable. Having such a range of species close enough to the coast for small boats and tinnies to access in 15knots creates for some full on action at times with up to 10 boats on the one wreck. With fuel prices so high nowadays many people will choose to go to the wrecks over the reef because they can still get their drags screaming. 

The most productive way I have found to fish these wrecks are by drifting over them, when drifting, your lures look more natural than when on anchor. With up to 10 boats on a wreck sometimes it’s hard to drift because people can be anchored fishing baits in the line you want to drift. If you drift past them at a safe distance you will more often than not come across their burly trail & a school of fish. Drifting also helps with moving your lures at a faster pace for all the speedster pelagic’s that call these wrecks home.

Before you start your first drift it is very important to search around the wreck by looking for bait and schooled up fish on your sounder. Many people see structure and start fishing it, but at times the schools of resident fish can be pushed off the wreck by currents and other factors causing them to be sitting out in the open on flat bottom. A good showing on these wrecks can sometimes be up to half the sounder screen lit up like a Christmas tree, that’s when you know it’s going to be a good session. The main thing that influences the way these wrecks fish is tides, without much tidal movement the fish don’t seem to stack up and feed as hard.

My favourite fish to catch off these wrecks are GT’s and Golden Trevally. Both of these trevally species pull very hard but have different feeding methods. GT’s seem to like things much faster like knife jigs & Shimano Lucanus jigs worked with a quick erratic retrieve. The Golden’s on the other hand seem to be more timid when the feed, they do eat the Jigs but worked at a much slower steady pace. The best method I have found to get them to eat is a small plastic hopped up through the water Colum. Another little trick I have been taught by a good mate is to downsize and slow the retrieve up as the day progresses, this seems to work well for all the species if they are sounding up but not on the chew. 

My best methods to use on wrecks are by far Jigging Jigs and plastics. I’ve witnessed days where we have had multiple double hook ups beside bait fishermen, so to try match what we were doing they started to jig their bait, fair to say it didn’t really work well. The stand out Jig for me is the 100gram Shimano Lucanus Jig range, this can be worked many different ways with its colourful skirts attracting all the pelagic species when worked at high speed and the bottom feeder when bounced along tight to the structure. The plastics I use vary in size from 8inches to 5inches depending on what they are feeding on and what time of day it is. The stand out colour would have to be plain white for pelagic’s & anything with green on it for the bottom feeders. My favourite way to work these is by ripping fast off the bottom then pause half way, dropping back down and repeating the process.

For fishing these wrecks I have two setups I use, the first is a Shimano Sustain 10000FG loaded with 50lb Power Pro Depth Hunter braid matched on a Tcurve Revolution- Vertical series PP50-65. This combo is ideal for jigging on the wrecks light enough to Jig with all day but with so much power it’s almost like a winch if you set the silky smooth drag high enough. 

My second setup for this fishing is called my ‘Crazy Stick’. It has raised a few eyebrows and even more fish. This is my Shimano Stradic 3000Ci4 loaded with 4lb braid matched to a Gloomis Gl2 8-15lb. This set up is unstoppable, when the day is slowing down its perfect to downsize from the Jig stick to this with a few small plastics. It has been hooking some of the biggest fish of the trips lately and handling them very well. The reel has a perfect drag needed for fishing 4lb & the rod can handle a serious load up with a gentle curve right through to the butt. 

Never overlook wrecks, if it’s calm one day after work get out there and have a jig for a couple hours. You won’t regret it. My last session lasted for 2hours before we had to leave so I could get changed in the car and head to work. Don’t let a spare couple hours with good weather slip by because that’s all it takes to catch an unforgettable fish also don’t be afraid to fish light out in the blue. You will be surprised with what can be landed!