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Bait Casters Down!
  |  First Published: November 2010



Another year has crept up behind us and the closed season for barramundi is here again.

November 1 to February 1 closure was once considered as a massive pain, as this is the best time of year to catch a wild barramundi. But nowadays, it’s recognised and respected as a vital period that must take place every year to sustain a viable barramundi fishing industry. It’s great to see anglers acknowledging the importance of this season closure, and lets look forward to a stellar 2011 season!

While the winds blew hard early during September, it came home strong with some much appreciated 5-10 knot forecasts. With the still, warmer days, the creek temperatures rose remarkably from 22ºC to 27ºC within a week. We all know the barra and jacks really fire during this transition and excellent reports came in from all post codes.

The most interesting factor was the positive results while casting hardbodied lures, which is a solid indication that fish baits are back on the menu and winter is finally well and truly over. But like every other year it’s time to draw focus on the crimson red mangrove jack, the culprit that’s responsible for so many lost lures at the blink of an eye.

Jacks

Jacks can sometimes be a little hard to find, but once you find them they usually gang up on the same stretch of bank. Ideally look for smaller creeks to work with enough timber for them to call home, and remember you don’t need a lot of water to hold big fish.

Jacks are a funny fish, you usually only get one crack at them so be on your guard at all times. This is the reason why many anglers get bricked by big specimens. They love to hit lures on their return to the snag they came from and not on their way out, so they’re already one step ahead of you!

With so many lures on the market it is hard to know where to start. Majority of anglers will throw a bigger bodied lure to attract both barra and jacks, but from experience the smaller profiled lures definitely out fish the bigger profile.

Soft plastics also work well on jacks. Rigging them weedless gets you deep in the heart of jack country – and also into a whole lot of trouble too, but remember you’ve got to be in it to win it!

Stick to this simple guideline and hopefully you’ll get stuck into some cracker jacks!

Heating up

You only had to take a peak at the Townsville coastguard boat ramp to realise that the weather was going to be red hot.

As you can imagine, there were some great fish caught and with the winds limiting recreational fishers from fishing the reefs of late the quality of fishing was second to none. I haven’t heard of so many coral trout caught over one weekend and the average size trout was around 60cm.

Not to be outdone, the red throats stamped their authority hard. I reckon these fish are one of the tastiest fish to grace our reef. Areas such as Grub, Trunk and the Slashers Reef are notorious trout and red throat grounds and you rarely come home empty-handed.

Mack attack

While the demersal species kept bottom bashers entertained the pelagics bit furiously with Spanish mackerel in plague proportions from inshore shoals and reefs.

Shoal grounds off Bowling Green Bay and Cape Cleveland fired on all cylinders. Wolf herring were a waste of money as a drifted pilchard was all you needed to draw a bite.

I heard reports of some monster mackerel around 25-30kg caught around the Palm Island group. This is not an uncommon size for this area and brings plenty of promise for a good mackerel spawn around Rib Reef this month.

Fingermark

As we already know, devoted fingermark anglers have already been head to head with big fish over the past month and we should see these reports improve over summer with live squid crucial for a good chopper or two.

This also means prime time for big grunter as well, and promising reports have trickled in from Cape Cleveland and shoals off the Burdekin. Slab baits and squid work a treat, but it’s good to see a few experimenting with soft plastics and having good success too.

Remember to fish your plastics to the lightest possible jighead that the current will allow you to fish. It’s a far better presentation that’s more realistic and will inevitably get you better results. The scented plastics like the Berkley Gulp 7” jerk shad and Slam baits tend to work best. Having the whole artillery at hand can pay off big time especially when the fish are playing hard to get!

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