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Bonito, Salmon, and how to spot different types of surface action - by Craig McGill, 15 12 11

Bonito, Salmon, and how to spot different types of surface action - by Craig McGill, 15 12 11

After a very slow start to the season the surface fish have finally arrived with a vengeance. The action went from virtually nothing to carnage over two days. Salmon are working hard on top with the bonito around and underneath them and trevs sitting even deeper again. Scattered over a large area are hordes of bonnies working singly or in small schools. A bit further into the harbour, the tailor are on the job. Shack bay and Washaway beach have bonito and up around Goat Island there is a mix of all of the above. I've also had reports that the kingfish have left long reef which means that they should show up in the harbour any day now .
Salmon and bonito feed differently when they are working the surface bait. Bonito slash at the bait in a U shaped sweep. From well under the surface they charge upwards, hit the bait on the surface and quickly dart back to the depths. Salmon stay on top chomping along the surface, usually all in one direction, herding the baitfish along as they go. Salmon rely more on inhaling their prey where bonito work more on a slash and grab technique. A comparison of their mouth shape and teeth will verify that there's some truth in that theory.
So generally the splash left by a bonito will be more prominent than that of a salmon. With practice you can learn to identify the species from the way in which they are breaking the surface even if you can't visually identify the fish. Tailor and bonito both attack in much the same way, a long slash that creates a big spray and flying baitfish. Kings and salmon are much more subtle leaving a boil or swirl that is less detectable from a distance.
How will knowing this make a difference?
The different species respond to different types and sizes of lures, different retrieve rates and styles and different approaches. Making a decision on these variables is obviously much easier if you know what you are chasing.
I'll give you an example of a common mistake that costs fish.
There were a number of boats fishing the same surface working school around north head early one weekend morning. Everyone was catching bonito but we were the only ones catching salmon. When we got back to the boat ramp at Roseville we met up with one of the anglers from another boat that had been working the school alongside us that morning. He asked us if we had ever seen so many bonito working the surface like that before. When I informed him that the fish working the surface were actually salmon he became agitated and told me that, being a Fishing guide, I should know better. He then held up half a dozen bonito to confirm his claim. I left it at that.
This is what had actually happened. He had been working the surface with a large chrome lure of about eight centimetres. When that failed he did the right thing and tried another style of lure, this time a deep diving minnow. Straight away he started catching bonito, concluding that the fish churning the surface were bonito and he had found the right lure.
We had also caught a few bonito by letting our tiny chrome lures sink well below the surface action. The salmon churning the surface were by no means easy to catch but if you put in enough casts with very tiny lures and retrieved the lure fast, very close to the surface, one would eventually concede. When they are feeding like this salmon will, with persistence, take a tiny lure or fly retrieved across the top. They will never take a large lure retrieved across the top, let alone underneath them.
It became quite obvious to us that what we had here was salmon working the surface with bonito working the deeper bait schools under the salmon. Our mate at the ramp presented his lure deep, within easy reach of the bonito and with a lure size that was acceptable to them.
Unlike salmon, bonito will readily accept a variety of lure sizes regardless of the size of the bait they are feeding on.
It's not uncommon to find a number of different species working under surface feeding fish, both pelagic and demersal. Whether you are catching the fish that are working on the surface or not, it's always worth letting your lure fall deep occasionally.
On the same subject, the trevally at the heads at the moment, are working the layer below the bonito which are in turn below the salmon. This has led some anglers to the same conclusion as our mate at the ramp. That is that the fish working the surface are trevally when they are actually salmon. Trevs generally prefer the small lures favoured by salmon although we have taken them, on occasions on surface poppers and average size deep diving minnows.
So as you can see from the above scenario that to effectively work this situation it must be done with a variety of lures worked at a variety of depths at different retrieve speeds.
The scattered bonito have been too easy to catch by simply trolling Rapala CD 7 30 meters behind the boat at about four knots. They are so thick at the moment that nobody seems to be missing out.
The tailor feed more like bonito, in a slashing motion and also like bonito they are much less fussy about lure size. Having said that the best results will always come from matching the hatch. Unlike bonito they are commonly found on the surface, so they are generally easier to locate. Under the right conditions bonito will work the surface but less commonly than many other pelagics. High speed retrieve is less essential for tailor salmon and trevs than it is for members of the tuna family, like bonito.

Stuart Reid's 50lb Pending World Record PNG Black Bass

Pending World Record Black Bass

Papuan Black Bass are renowned the world over as the toughest pound for pound freshwater fish in the world, and the place to find the biggest Black Bass is PNG's Gulf province. The current all tackle world record Black Bass of 46lbs, and the fish pictured (caught on 19/6/14, by Stuart Reid, Fishabout) which is the pending world record at 50lbs, were both caught from these rivers.

Once you feel the strike you know that no freshwater fish can come close to the power. Watching 100kg guys get knocked over on the strike, reels give way, rods break in half and 130LB pound braid snap from the pound for pound strongest fighting fresh water fish is a sight to behold. If would like to experience the thrill of targeting PNG Black Bass and Barramundi in remote areas with very low fishing pressure contact us now. *2017-18 spots selling now* ... read more

Kadavu Island - Great Astrolabe Reef

Fiji Macky

The pristine Fiji Islands are home to the South Pacific's finest sport and game fish, including massive GT's, monster dogtooth tuna, yellowfin tuna, dolphin fish, wahoo, spanish mackerel, black marlin, blue marlin and plenty of reef fish. Many of these species are endemic to the Great Astrolabe Reef (one of the largest barrier reefs in the world), which is the reef that encompasses Kadavu Island, Fiji.Fishabout now offer 6 and 8 day fishing packages to explore this marine wonder of the world, which include 3 and 5 days fishing respectively. For more information call us on (02)8922 2651 or click here

Endyalgout Remote Fishing Camp

Sunset at Endyalgout

Fishabout is pleased to now offer remote fishing trips to Endyalgout Island, one of the best fishing locations in Australia. (Nestled on the south east of the Coburg Penninsula).

Situated on a shell grit beach under shady trees, are several permanent tropical friendly safari style tents, raised on wooden platforms.

Looking out past the resident Crocodile you can see miles and miles of enticing mangroves, barely touched creeks, rivers, rock bars and channels, all calling your name.

From monster Baramundi up to 130cm, to big Black Jewfish, Threadfin Salmon, various Trevallies, and some of the biggest Golden Snaper to be found anywhere, Endyalgout Island is truly a dream to fish.

Pricing ranges from $4350 (4 days, 3 anglers per boat) to $6910 (7 days, 2 anglers per boat)

For more information please call us on (02) 8922 2651 or click here