Please select your home edition
Edition
Protector 728x90

Jigging for nocturnal nasties

by Lee Brake on 26 Mar 2013
Sometimes, if you’re a small boat owner without a cabin, it’s worth getting a camping permit and staying on an offshore island so you can fish the best parts of the night. Lee Brake
As the weather cools off it's worth heading offshore in search of some snapper, be they knobbies or goldens, and this month Lee Brake takes us through the advantages of jigging offshore marks at night.

You’d have thought we were on an Alaskan voyage of discovery. I personally was wearing four layers, a beanie and a Buff so that combined with a pair of borrowed long pants, that were about four sizes too big, I looked like a cross between a navy seal, a mountaineer and a hobo who hangs around liquor stores in winter. Sure, I had an excuse in the form of a flu that expressed itself in a cough that resembled the hacking, mucus-ridden, bark of a life-long pack-a-day smoker, but in reality, a Tasmanian or Canadian would probably have called it singlet weather.


So what was I – the hacking, spluttering, many layered nut bar – doing out on a night like this? I was with the old man and we were jigging soft plastics over a deep rubble patch. You see, in the depths of winter, Mackay folk get overcome with a certain delusion I like to call ‘snapper fever’. Now snapper fever is not a very logical condition. Mackay is pretty much at the furthermost extent of the snapper’s northern migratory run and, as such, we get a fleeting, and patchy, snapper season when the water is at its coldest.

The problem with this is that to Mackayites, snapper take on a somewhat mythical rarity that makes them rather appealing and makes them somewhat of a status symbol. If you can rock up at work bleary-eyed, yet puffy-chested and declare to one and all that you, 'went out and got a few nobbies last night', you win instant respect. It’s a badge of honour akin to being the first into a breach or being the one who can stand up to the mother-in-law at family gatherings, and to be honest, it probably stems from the fact that, due to our short snapper run, none of us actually become very good at catching them. So, no, before you get the wrong idea, this article is not about catching snapper, nor is it the story of how this hacking, spluttering, many layered nut bar slayed them – because honestly I’ve caught chicken pox more often than I’ve caught bloody snapper!

I do, however, have a penchant for nocturnal jigging and I have caught some damn good fish doing it! We’ve had some cracker jigging trips at night with big fingermark, red fish and various lipper species all being on the menu. So why jig at night you may ask? Why bother, when surely jigs will be more visible and more effective in the daylight hours? In my book, it’s simply a matter of targeting different species; if I wanted trout and pelagics I’d jig the day, but for these rarer catches the darkening sky is the key.


Time of night

STOP! Before you give in to that light bulb above your head that’s just convinced you that a nocturnal sortie is the answer to all your trophy species aspirations, let me continue. Yes, different species bite better at night, but like the daytime fish, they don’t feed all night. They have bite periods. In my experience these are very similar to your daytime bite times in that the hour-and-a-bit either side of the change of the tide are usually your prime bite times, then once the run stops at dead tide, things quiet off till the change (no run, no fun). The other obvious time to shine is the dark side of dawn and dusk – I call it the 'magic hour'.

It’s usually that time when there’s no sun, but there is a light grey/red glow appearing faintly on the horizon. It’s been during this time that the vast majority of our big fingermark have been caught. Then, once the horizon blackens or the sun appears in full... goodbye hot bite. The message here – be in the right place at the right time folks! Lastly, unlike the daytime, there is the added bonus of a third bite trigger – the moon.


Yes, always check the time of the rising moon. If you’re at a spot for the dusk bite, but the moon rises at 9.00pm, then you’d be mad not to hang around for its appearance. It’s sometimes enough to start a flurry of activity!

Adapting to the night: conditions

Like any type of fishing, if you rigidly stick to one approach then you rigidly limit your fish-catching potential. I have just said that the period either side of the tide is prime, but that doesn’t mean you won’t catch that trophy fish at dead water or when the run picks up. If the run drops off at the bottom of the tide, the fish will still feed, you just need more finesse. Try downsizing your jighead to one that just flutters down to the bottom and to keep the bow out of your line, try bringing a lighter combo just for this – 30lb braid is usually popular.


Adapting to night: visibility

Now, before I tell you how to make your lures more visible for a nocturnal assault, it must be pointed out that sight is just one, minor, way in which a predator finds a feed. First, fish keenly feel vibration, so a lure with plenty of erratic action should be your first consideration. For this reason we’ve often had some interesting results with speedy retrieves. I’ve been slammed by fingermark with all the timidity of a Maroons forward pack... while I was cranking the lure in at the end of a drift! Also, it’s not uncommon for us to employ a fast jerk-and-crank retrieve that we would normally employ for pelagics during daylight hours – the instinctive bite really seems to kick in once the sun goes down! It’s not just plastics either; I’ve heard plenty of reports of guys using metal jigs to catch reef species at night, and it seems as if darker, more contrasting colours are the most effective.


Secondly, a wide range of plastics are coming 'juiced up' these days and the results are lures that put out pheromones, scents and all sorts of sexy smells guaranteed to have predators zoning in on the culprit. As a note, I’ve found the Berkley Gulps (which I am in no way professionally associated with) to have the best attracting scent. In fact we’ve done little tests where two of us have jigged over a spot repeatedly with the result that the Gulp got taken and the unscented plastic didn’t, until I put the unscented plastic into the Gulp juice for a soak, and yes, you guessed it, next drop it got inhaled! Gulp aside; there are many proven scents on the market that can be bought and rubbed, squirted or sprayed onto your lures, so I suggest if you plan on doing this nocturnal jigging thing, it’s a good idea to invest in some.

Lastly, if you’ve got the other bases covered, it’s time to think about making your lure stand out in the water column. This is where luminescent jigs really shine (cough) and I must say the results so far have impressed me no end! I personally use an American plastic called the Got Stryper Pintail in a lumo-coloured, 7', joined, single-tail jerkshad; however, there are plenty of easier to acquire options. All will have the same effect; simply use a powerful light to 'charge' the plastic and then send it into the depths. Getting a good charge is important though, because if you just shine a weak torch on the plastic for a few seconds between drifts, you’ll only get a few seconds of glow. Ideally, you want something bright; a spotlight will do the job, but if you’re in a hurry then simply take a few photos of your plastic at point blank range. The lumen-filled flash will have the plastic glowing like a Fukushima frog. I use the external flash on my SLR which has a 'test fire' button, but any flash will provide a quick fix and, as a bonus, you’ll be able to show people photos of the plastic you caught the whopper on!

Worth staying up?

Yes friends, if you can bear to miss Heartbeat or that re-run of The Bill then you probably still have it in you to get out at night and get jiggy. Pack the warmies, fill the thermos and load up the coffee, make sure you’re wearing a lifejacket with glow stick attached (hitting floating debris at night is an inherent danger) and most of all, don’t think of it as something that takes all night. Pick a good tide that coincides with dusk or dawn, run out for a few hours, and then head home in time to boast to the work crew about the nocturnal nasties you’ve conquered, or just hit the sack.

Till next month, fish hard and stay safe.

Hella Marine - July 2016GAC Pindar Superyacht ServicesMake Fast Moorings

Related Articles

MotorGuide makes Tuross Head Flathead and Bream Tournament a success
Tuross Head Flathead and Bream Tournament has been an outstanding success with 255 competitors taking to the water At the end of the weekend catch-and-release fishing tournament, the experienced David Fraser took home the winner’s trophy with his two best flatheads (48 and 72.6 cm) and two best bream (32.3 and 27.5 cm) giving him a total of 248.1 points, and a comfortable 10-point gap on Stuart Walker in second place.
Posted on 24 Mar
HDS Carbon has landed
SolarMAX™ HD technology gives you an ultra-wide 180 degree viewing angle to make sure you can see your display clearly Built to match the needs of the modern angler, Lowrance HDS Carbon displays sport powerful new dual-core processors for smoother operation of demanding high-performance accessories like StructureScan® 3D.
Posted on 24 Mar
Aquasports Marine marks 10 Years with Mercury
Boat range is extensive, running from runabouts, offshore fishing, and bowriders to cuddy cabins and family all-rounders Situated in the Perth suburb of Midland, the team at Aquasports Marine not only supply and service the full range of Mercury and MerCruiser engines, they provide boat lovers with everything they could need – including new and used boats, full boat and motor servicing and repairs, finance, insurance, fishing gear, watersport equipment, boat chandlery, oils and motor spare parts.
Posted on 23 Mar
Lowrance® celebrates 60 years of domination
Lowrance®, a world-leader in fishing electronics since 1957 — announced plans for celebration of its 60th Anniversary. Lowrance®, a world-leader in fishing electronics since 1957 — announced today plans for the celebration of its 60th Anniversary. For six decades, the iconic brand has led the industry in product innovation and customer service, supported professional anglers around the globe and dominated the tournament trail.
Posted on 23 Mar
New Garmin GPSMAP models now available
Garmin’s popular GPSMAP multifunction display series, new 752xs/952xs touchscreen are now available in Australia. Further expanding Garmin’s popular GPSMAP multifunction display series, the new 752xs/952xs touchscreen and 1022xsv/1222xsv rotary control/keyed units are now available in Australia.
Posted on 23 Mar
Coral Bleaching Again - Call to Action
Last week I attended latest Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan meeting of the Reef Advisory Committee in Brisbane It has become abundantly obvious to CAREFISH that climate change has eventuated and massive scale disruption and or destruction of our environment, particularly the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), is currently being experienced and is escalating. Whilst it is acknowledged that Governments are attending to some aspects and attempting to mitigate effect...
Posted on 22 Mar
New Listing – 2013MY Pursuit C 260
With a huge bathroom, great seating and the huge deck, this boat has it all.The price includes a virtually new Sea Pen. This late model US built boat makes for the perfect fishing and offshore vessel or is just as at home cruising enclosed waters with the family. With a huge bathroom, great seating and the huge aft deck this boat really has it all.The price includes a virtually new Sea Pen.
Posted on 22 Mar
Giving women a voice in fisheries
Victorian Rural Women’s Award finalist Kirsten Abernethy couldn’t be prouder of her state’s seafood industry. Victorian Rural Women’s Award finalist Kirsten Abernethy couldn’t be prouder of her state’s seafood industry. ‘Victoria has a great industry,’ she says. ‘It’s sustainable, proud and passionate. We should be celebrating our small family businesses and celebrating our remarkable seafood – from Williamstown sardines to Gippsland prawns.’
Posted on 21 Mar
Stylish new look for smaller Bar Crushers
Australian plate aluminium boat manufacturer Bar Crusher has introduced a new folding targa rocket launcher Australian plate aluminium boat manufacturer Bar Crusher has introduced a new folding targa rocket launcher for its Wavecrusher series (490C and 535C).
Posted on 20 Mar
Fantastic signs for Victorian King George whiting
High numbers of juvenile King George whiting have been recorded in recent fisheries surveys of Port Phillip Bay High numbers of juvenile King George whiting have been recorded in recent fisheries surveys of Port Phillip Bay, which is great news for whiting stocks and recreational anglers.
Posted on 17 Mar