The usual current runs north in Keppel Bay, which means that any big flow coming down the Fitzroy River pushes right through. Flood waters from hundreds of kilometres away can keep the bay looking dirty and full of fresh for weeks on end. Knowing this can help decide where to fish, what to target and whether it is even worth while fishing inside the bay at all!
The best fishing will be in the next year or so after a flood. At present we are still recovering from the wettest September on record in Queensland.
The early runs of all the lesser mackerel looked very promising until the fresh came along and pushed them to wider areas and cleaner water. They will come back as soon as the bay clears up as previous years have shown. One upside of the fresh is that we have plenty of water and, as I said before, the fishing definitely improves for the future.
Barra season is now closed and because of the difficulties the pros faced getting to the fish (because of flood), it means that there is going to be nearly a whole generation of keeper-sized fish they missed. Next open season promises to be one of the best on record for everyone.
While the water is grubby try fishing for species less disturbed by the change, like grunter and jew.
The big grunter have come in again on cue to the local wrecks, rubble patches and The Pinnacles, with nannygai as a popular by-catch. We target grunter at night up at The Pinnacles by drifting over the bigger structures to find the dips and trenches that the big specimens prefer to feed in. This normally produces red fish before reaching the grunter around the edges and trenches.
Most of the time a paternoster rig is the go but if the fish are on the sounder and not chewing then try something different. Try anchoring up 30-40m back and floating down the bait with a small pea sinker. Finicky fish just might take an unrestricted looking bait over the anchored one.
We learned these methods from the Brissy snapper catchers years ago when older methods struggled to catch fish at spots like Tempest. This method will also produce more red throats over the shoals than any other.
For grunter, big king prawns and pilchards are the best baits as a rule, with squid and flesh strips a good backup. Quartz Rock, The Pinnacles, The Barge, Cape Manifold, Cape Capricorn and The Rama are pick spots. The best times are around the full moon and the new moon.
Nannygai are one species that thrive when nutrient levels are up in the bay. Small-mouth have been taken lately at places like Findlays, Liza Jane and The Pinnacles. They come in closer around the inshore reefs to feed on prawns and other critters washed out of the creeks. Although the majority of them are just around minimum legal there are lots that don’t need to be measured.
Large-mouth territory ranges from the islands out into deep redfern country where there are schools of massive fish mix with red emperor. Like red emperor they prefer big bait, especially mullet fillets or fresh hussar.
The reefs outside of the bay have been in fine form of late. Coral trout are always about the islands, especially in the rock ledges on the eastern side. Look in depths from about 3-20m in close, while the pressure point sides of the shoals and deeper reef work well.
Although live baits are the pick, poppers, minnows, plastics and dead baits will do the trick. Remember the Coral Reef Fin Fish Closures start on the 3-7 November (inclusive).
There have been some very big spotted mackerel and doggies taken out at the wider reefs lately while trolling for Spaniards with lures. We were trolling large gold and green Crazy Deeps and getting continual hook-ups, while the other boat trolled bonito and ribbonfish for no takes. The mackerel were smaller than the target horse Spaniards and the fish that were on the chew might have been a bit deeper than the trolled baits could reach without a downrigger. Vary your attack methods if success doesn’t come in the first or second pass, particularly if a neighbouring boat is onto the fish.
When you go to your favourite mackerel spot watch the fish finder because when the mackerel are there they will show on the screen, and if not sometimes it pays to bite the bullet and move on.
Cobia have come in again to Liza Jane, Barren, Outer and Man & Wife. The schools of cobia love high structures as a rule and most mackerel spots will hold them.
Floating pillies on gangs with a mono leader is one of the best methods when targeting cobia. Livies and jigs all work well but try not to use wire unless the Spaniards are about.
Estuary grunter have also had a small run. Rubble or cockle beds are the best starting spots in the local creeks. The river may still be recovering but the creeks heading north have come on well. Coorooman Creek is one place you can get quality grunter pretty much most of the time at present, although the better captures are like the offshore fish around the moon. The Causeway Lake and the Corio/Waterpark systems are also quite good for grunter, usually in the same periods as Coorooman at the same kind of locations.
The most popular grunter baits are prawns, although fresh fillet strips and greenback herrings work well.
Whiting and dart have continued up the beaches north of Yeppoon with some nice patches of fish near Corio. Beachworms and yabbies are the best whiting baits, particularly fresh and live. Try to work with the tides by catching worms or yabbies at the bottom of the tide and using them in the same areas on the incoming. Places like the mouth of Barwells Creek and the gutters along Farnborough Beach are worth a shot.
Barramundi season is now closed until 1 February so we will have to extend our options to the other warm weather species such as fingermark, mangrove jack, flathead and salmon.
The impoundments are the only spots we can legally chase barra in our region. Awoonga and Callide are just south, and up north are Peter Faust, Eungella, Teemburra and Kinchant Dams that all have stocks of large barra. The dam take limit in the tidal closed season is one fish per person.Reads: 1922