By Alex Ciccozzi
For many South Aussie anglers anticipation leading into Autumn is always at an all-time high for good reason. With mostly superb mild weather conditions and the fishing action hotting up, the perfect platform is set around the state for some memorable trips that will be reminisced for years to come.
Many regard autumn as the ‘big fish season’ and this certainly rings true as some quality sportfishing is on offer, coinciding perfectly with the stable weather patterns required to get amongst it. It’s fair to say many keen fishos are driven by the chance of capturing that fish of a lifetime.
Some of the best hook-ups are often those that come unexpectedly when you are either pre-occupied or drifting off into a daze. Tuna are classic examples of this when seeking out fish the troll. When the action is slow trolling is enough to send you into a trance-like state, however things are quickly forgotten when the sweet sound of singing drags fill the air as a pack of hungry tuna nail the spread. Tuna are known for their ferocious nature when it comes to taking lures and the spectacular surface strikes and blistering runs are all just part of the package these scrappers have to offer. The bluefin tuna run should be continuing well into the coming months ahead of us and now is by far the best time to be out making the most of the weather and hooking into a few.
Snapper will no doubt still be one of the most popular target species for those looking for some quick fire action and a decent bend in the rod. While snapper hook-ups are probably somewhat less gusto in nature in comparison to bluefin tuna they’ll still nail offerings with good force when in the mood. Bait fishing for big reds is the most common practice and paternoster rig styles of fishing can elicit some great rod bending action when trying to set the hook on a decent bite. Personally I prefer to fish unweighted with circle hooks wherever possible and then sit back and enjoy the wait. It’s a pretty awesome feeling watching your rod slowly load up until line starts to peel off at a rate of knots. When big red is on the other end of the line the smash and grab display is often far from subtle which is evident by the amount of pressure on the rod when removing it from the holder! Many areas around the state will still be hosting these fish, and it’s a case of pick your location and put the time in.
Kings, groper and samsons inhabit the offshore reef systems at this time of year and are easily reachable by both charter and recreational boats. If you’re lucky enough to get stuck into any of these three species you’re guaranteed to know about it as there’s not many fish in our waters capable of testing you to your limits like this bunch. Coming up tight on one of these monsters from the depths is something not to be taken lightly and heavy threadline or overhead gear, along with a bit of luck, is often required in order to land these fish successfully. Because of the hard reef terrain they are found in it is not uncommon for the fight to be over in a matter of seconds before you’ve even realised what’s just occurred. A rampaging king, groper or sambo needs to have its head turned quickly into the fight to be within any chance of getting one to the boat, so rather than admiring the solid bend in the rod get stuck into the fish early. If that fails however, simply hold on for dear life and start praying!
Kings and samsons can also be targeted with high-speed jigging techniques and often the hook-ups here and nothing short of epic. In fact out of all fishing techniques and methods this is probably my most favourite style of hooking into a good fish as you can really feel the power they are capable of! Jigging should only be attempted when the fish are known to be holding below otherwise you’ll quickly find yourself tiring with not much to show for it. This technique can certainly provide better chances of landing good fish if they are hooked mid-water rather than hard on the rugged bottom.
Salmon can be hit and miss throughout autumn but if you put in the hard yards it’s still possible to come across a few good pods of fish. The stable weather also means that they can be targeted with a variety of different techniques to make the most of what these hard fighting fish have to offer. Working poppers will get them firing with some awesome surface takes easily being the pick of the action, however coming up tight onto a good salmon while retrieving a metal slug at full pace is easily just as exciting. It’s even better on the surf beaches when you can see the fish chasing your lure down the face of a wave, knowing at any second you’re about to be doing battle with a hungry sambo. Large schools of salmon can also be mistaken for surface feeding tuna at this time of year as they behave in the same manner by pushing bait schools to the surface for easy pickings. It is therefore not uncommon to come across a few when out chasing bluefin as they’re simply making the most of the abundance of bait brought down by the offshore warm water currents.
Autumn truly lives up to its reputation as the season for big fish in South Australia and there’s no better time of year to get out there and land that trophy fish. Some great rod bending action and battles with XOS fish is all part of the fun, but it wouldn’t be much without those monumental hook-ups which for me is one of the best parts about it. Tight lines!