As seasons come and pass, the marine environment forever changes. Warm water currents flow from the north bringing with them nutrient rich water, and on the tail of that water the baitfish closely follow.
Every season differs from the past. Some years the currents bring plentiful amounts of northern species down along our coast, making for some unusual captures among angling groups. At the time these captures may seem like a rare first for that species, however they are part of an ever-changing cycle which has most likely happened in previous years.
Over the last few years we have observed a distinct change within our marine environment. The local waters have been warmer than usual due to the Leeuwin Current’s heavy push from the north. With these warmer currents, local anglers have found an array of species from the north within metropolitan waters.
November generally signals the start of the new season when different species of fish begin to congregate and move. Along with the fish, currents also begin to show their strength. The northern currents will run all the way through until April/May depending on how strong of a push there is behind them. Southerly currents push along the coast also, but the warm water seems to overpower their flow.
Targeting fish on the surface has to be one of the most thrilling ways to encounter a bite during this warmer period. There’s something about being able to cast into a pack of hunger-frenzied fish and seducing an enormous predator into chasing down your lure, in the hope that one of its smaller friends doesn’t get to it first. This type of fishing is usually associated with the north coast, however there are plenty of top water fishing opportunities to be found at our doorstep right here in Perth.
The metro waters off the coast of Perth are home to many pelagic species such as yellow tail kingfish, various tuna species, Spanish mackerel and shark mackerel, with some particularly large Spanish mackerel turning up out the back of Rottnest Island.
The newly installed tuna towers off the Perth metro coast are also a great place to start your search for pelagics and should produce all of the previously mentioned species over the seasons.
Apart from being on the water at sunrise and sunset, the biggest key to finding these top water predators is to locate the baitfish schools. Birds working, hovering and diving into baitfish schools are very good signs of predatory activity beneath the surface. Also look for baitfish breaching the surface as this is a sure sign they are being harassed by larger predators. Be sure to also keep an eye on water temperatures. Spanish macks and shark macks will be in the warmer waters which is not always offshore.
When chasing pelagics on lure, matching the lure size to the size of the baitfish is the best way to ensure success. It’s also important that the weight of the lure is sufficient for the length of cast required. Small metal slices, slugs, soft plastics and fly are all good lures to try when targeting pelagics off the Perth metro coast.
If lures aren’t your thing, then why not give cubing a try? Cubing involves drifting along a likely area whilst tossing small pieces of cut baitfish into the water. After a while a berley trail is left along the boat’s drift line attracting fish from all depths to the back of your boat. Then it is just a matter of loading up a cube with a small, strong hook and feeding it back down the berley trail. Always allow the bait to free fall at the same rate as the rest of the hookless cubes do or the larger fish will spot the difference and refuse to take your offering. Casting a live bait out behind the boat whilst cubing is also a great method of catching larger specimens.
The key to success with the top feeders is to always stay alert and look for clues. Think like a predator. Don’t cast aimlessly around waiting for something to happen. If there aren’t any visible signs of fish, keep changing lures, depths and distances until you get a result. Remember, active anglers catch active fish!