Firstly you have to know where the GTs live but if you base your game plan on the fact that to find GTs you need 3 major things – current, structure and bait – if you have these 3 things and you are on the barrier reef, make a cast because you are on the money!!!
There are a couple things that will make your life easier when looking for these angry creatures. GTs use the current as their primary feeding tool. To put it into basic terms the more current moving around, the more bait there is getting moved around and the more the GTs will be inclined to feed. When the current slows down the fish simply move to an area which will be more fruitful, if you have planned your day well there will always be an area that has enough current to get a fish fired up to come and eat your lure.
There are various different types of spots to look for GTs and they will all give you tell-tale signs that there is a possible fish hunting the area. Here are a few different scenarios:
Pressure edges, points, bays.:- These sort of areas work best when there is a decent amount of water on the top of the reef, and my preferred time to fish them would be on the last 3 hours of run in and first 3 hours of run out tide. What happens here is current will flow into the reef and over the top and as the current flows over the top it speeds up considerably and causes this pressure which usually leaves the bait fish tight up against the edge in fear of getting sucked into the shallow water where they have no place to hide. On either sides of this pressure there will be eddies and the bait will try their best to stay away from those sorts of places as again this leaves them as easy targets, usually the bait fish you will be looking for in these scenarios are Fusiliers or Garfish and they cause a ripple effect on the surface and will often get spray up, or “shower”, on the surface when they are getting harassed by predators. Generally the GTs will be swimming up and down the edge balling the bait, they do this in packs of up to 20 fish sometimes more so things can get quite exciting and triple bendings are a common occurrence.
Blue Holes:- are probably my most preferred spots for catching GTs for a variety of reasons, the water is usually only a couple of meters deep so you can see fish coming from far away, the takes are really aggressive and this is where the beasts live!!!
Blue holes are basically a hole in the reef that floods during high tide and at low tide is an isolated piece of water surrounded by dry reef. My favourite time to fish these is as the tide starts to run out, the tide runs out really quickly and you have to sneak over fairly shallow water so careful you don’t get trapped inside!!! On the slack tide when there is a fair amount of water on the reef fish like Coral Trout, Emperors, Stripeys, Red Bass and all sorts of reef fish will cruise onto these flats to feed and as soon as the tide gets too strong they will retreat to the blue holes for shelter. This is where the giant GT will be waiting for them!!! The best place to fish a blue hole is the part of the hole where the current falls into first, this is normally fairly easy to read and you will see where there is the strongest flow as the water gets drained into the hole. The reason the fish are bigger in these blue holes is simply the bait that they are there to eat, they are there to get a proper feed not just a jelly bean.
Drains:- drains are best fished at the end of the run out tide, you want about 50-75cm of water covering the top of the reef and you need to go to the back edge of the reef. Basically what happens here is the water is channelled and it drains straight off the edge of the reef taking any bait or fish that are on the flats with it. This drain is where the fish will be waiting in ambush.
Eddies:- are usually fished when the current is at its peak and running really strong. What the fish will do is hang around the back edge of the current where it swirls passed the edge of the reef and basically sit there out of the current and ambush any vulnerable prey that happens to come flowing past the corner of the reef in the current. It’s often better to approach an eddy from the calm water side out of the current and cast towards the edge of the current tight up against the reef, this way it’s a lot easier to position the boat and you can do it with a lot less noise.
Cut Outs:- are found in the main channels and usually fish best around the last couple of hours of the run out when the water is starting to wash off the flats and into the channels. Down the sides of the channels you will get these very small little cutouts in the reef and as the current washes past them it causes little back eddies for the GTs to sit in, these fish will be awaiting the bait that is helplessly getting washed off the flats so your lure needs to land as close to the reef edge as possible. The current is usually at this stage screaming at around 6knts or more down these channels and it is hard to hold the boat on the spot, so you normally only get one cast – don’t rush it and make sure it lands on the money and it will usually get smashed as it hits the water.
Deep Shoals:- These can go off at times, the best place to find these shoals is on the outside edge of the reef and they work best on the first 2 hours of the run in tide. If you are travelling around the outside of the reef and notice a bit of current hitting an edge that comes up to around 10m out of around 30-40m there are sure to be GTs cruising on it. In most cases you will fish these shoals much the same way as you would fish a pressure edge with the boat positioned in the deeper water and casting the lures onto the edge of the shallows.
As you will notice in each one of these descriptions there are three fundamentals behind successful GT fishing….current, structure and bait!!!! This is not to say that these are the only types of spots where you will find GTs ready to destroy lures but these are the spots that you will find them on a daily basis.