When it comes to red emperor fishing we are extremely lucky that some of the best red fishing in the world can be experienced only a few hours north of Brisbane. Without a doubt the Fraser coast region consistently produces some of the biggest red emperor there is. Why is this so? Well that’s a big mystery but my guess is that it’s due to the tropical and sub-tropical water temperatures and the food sources that are available in the area.
Over the years we’ve experienced some incredible red emperor fishing and learnt a lot about these fish which I’ve happily passed on to thousands of fisherman. There’s no doubt these fish are addictive and theres not much to dislike about them. I’ve always said there not hard to catch just hard to find and for me the thrill of finding new rocks loaded with big reds is the ultimate goal in reef fishing.
Finding these fish rich spots is the hard part and what most people struggle with. You need lots of time and patience searching for small isolated rocks and ultimately finding that “pot of gold”. The easiest the way to put it, you’re trying to find a needle in hay stack so the more time you put in searching, the more you increase the chances of locating these special spots. At times I can go a year without finding one of these special spots and although I may have found 50 new spots that year is doesn’t mean they will hold fish and in particular good numbers of red emperor.
Every trip I go out with the aim to not only catch fish but to think of future trips. This means searching for new spots or fishing spots that I believe had potential but needed to be fished at certain times or ways.
My last trip I headed out from the Wide Bay Bar with one spot in mind that I found last year. It produced a couple of reds before shutting down as the sun disappeared. It was the perfect red emperor rock, small isolated and in an area I’ve caught good reds before. We headed out the bar late morning and aimed the boat ENE of the bar with my oldman, Macca and Brett Seng on board. My usual deckie Foxy recently had become a Dad with twins so he will be out of action for a while. Sorry foxy reading this will be the closest you will get to seeing a red for a while mate.
About 40km out I ran over a huge school of bait and decided to jig some live bait and also see if we could pull a fish off it. We soon had a good selection of yakkas and slimies in the tank and the furuno FCV-295 was showing a few larger fish around the bait as well. Dad was first to hook one of these fish and pulled a beautiful Snapper to open the account. Brett followed with another Snapper and Macca with a gold spot cod before the action slowed up.
I made my way further out and fished a spot that can produce some nice reds at times. It didn’t disappoint and we quickly pulled a couple nice school reds before Dad was buckled over with a fish running hard and pulling a heap of line off his reel. We had no idea what it could be but as it got closer you could see it wasn’t a red but instead an absolute beast of green job fish. Green job fish are one of meanest looking fish in the sea and this fish was up there with one of the biggest I’d seen.
With the afternoon getting on and the fishing slowing up we moved wider and I thought I would check the spot we pulled a heap of big reds off on the last trip. I ran over it and the furuno sounder lit up like a Christmas tree and I could see it had a good number of red emperor still on it. I wasn’t very keen on fishing it as I’d caught plenty of reds off it on the trip prior and it’s easy to damage small isolated spots like that. With the boys excited and the fact there were so many reds still on it I agreed to have a couple drops. I positioned the boat and it wasn’t long before all hell broke loose with a 3 way hook up soon as the baits touched the bottom. Unfortunately the boys lines crossed it each other and we had a big tangle to deal with which meant we lost one red while two other nice reds around 10kg and 12kg were safely on the deck.
We were using a selection of live baits and flesh baits but no bait seemed to be preferred over one another. I couldn’t resist another drop and quickly went back and dropped a live slimie down with a running 8 ball sinker, ganged 7/0 Mustad 7766D Hooks and 10 mtrs of 55lb schneider mono leader. As soon as I touched bottom I felt a red starting to eat the bait and they have a distinct bite which feels more like a solid tug. I let him have it for a couple of seconds before sinking the hooks and I quickly knew it was another cracking red with solid head shakes and powerful runs. Brett had also hooked a horse and was battling away in the corner of boat. I know I’ve said before but there’s no better sight than watching that red glow down deep make its way to the surface. They were beautiful reds of around 13kg and 11.5kg and there were smiles all around as the sun started to disappear over the horizon.
By now the current was roaring and there was around 13knots of SE blowing which made the sea confused and uncomfortable but still fishable. I drove away from that spot with the fish biting and made my way out further to a spot which has a large overhang/cave and has produced some trophy fish in the past. The fish tuck in hard to the cave/overhang which makes it hard to land fish and unfortunately you have to drop baits pretty close to it for a fish to take interest. I watched all 3 of the boys get to the bottom and within 10 seconds they were smashed and taken back into the cave/overhang. It’s pretty amusing to watch but still somewhat frustrating knowing that we are losing quality fish.
I moved on and decided to go and check out the rock I mentioned earlier that I had found last year. As I sounded over it I was blown away that it had no life on it at all. I was disappointed but like I’ve mentioned in my dvd’s and articles before, small isolated rocks often see the fish life tuck in hard to rocks at night to rest which can give a bit of false impression that it’s a lifeless spot. It was also around the new moon which can often see the fishing at night very slow.
The boys went to sleep while I put in 4 hours of sounding looking for new ground. I found around 10 new small rocks and although none of them looked exciting it would be worth a look during the daylight hours. I anchored up for the night to get some sleep myself and woke up with good conditions and everyone ready for another great days fishing.
I went back to the rock I found last year just in case it would come to life during the daylight hours. Well I’m glad I did because it was covered in big fish which looked like good reds. You wouldn’t know it was the same spot as the night before but just goes to show what an open mind and a bit of experience can do for you.
The first drop we missed the mark a little as the current was roaring harder than the day before but soon as Brett and I hit the bottom we got absolutely smashed. We had line peeling from our reels and couldn’t gain any line even if we tried. Eventually Brett started to pull his fish towards the surface but my fish was being very stubborn and giving me plenty of grief. It’s at that point you start thinking of all the things that could go wrong. Will a shark eat it, have I hooked it deep enough that hooks don’t pull out. You can run through a heap of scenarios in your head but you just keep a level head and do your best to land the fish. By now Brett’s fish hit the surface and was a horse of a red around 13.5kg and well and truly a PB red emperor for him. My fish was putting in plenty of hard runs all the way to the surface so I was hoping it was going to be a trophy red. The suspense looking over the side waiting to see the colour was killing me but soon enough that red glow emerged and a cracking red of just over 16kg hit the surface.
This is what red fishing is all about and the quality of fish we had pulled so far was exceptional. The oldman and macca were keen to get back for another drift so after plenty of pics were taken I went back for another drift. When the fishing is hot like this it’s funny to watch how much everyone is concentrating and trying to quickly drop that bait to the bottom.
The next couple of drifts resulted in a beautiful blue moari cod for Brett and multiple other red emperor with Dads fish the biggest of around 13kg. I decided we had enough reds in the box and leave them chewing to go chase some other species. We fished some larger reefs with pilchards and smaller hooks which paid off some nice red throat emperor, parrot and coronation trout. I checked another large rock close by and Brett hooked another freight train which had him bent inside out. It was hard to call what species it was but it was big and giving Brett a good account of itself. I was thinking surely it’s not another big red. We waited for it to hit the surface and what do you know it was another cracking red of 15-16kg and Brett’s 3rd PB red emperor for the trip.
I suggested to the boys that we make our way back in closer to target some pearlies and try avoid the reds. Not something that often happens and not a bad problem to have really. I arrived at the pearlie area and there wasn’t as much showing like usual but we located a few fish and had a drop. Would you believe it but the first fish caught was another red emperor. I had never caught a red in this area before and clearly we had some red mojo on board this trip. We persisted in the area and managed a couple nice pearlies to 63cm before pulling the pin and running through the wide bay bar on dark.