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Sportfish Spectacular
  |  First Published: December 2010



If you are into sport fishing, then December is definitely the time of year for you to fish the waters in and around Bowen.

The early months of summer see large congregations of whitebait and wolf herring take up residence in close around Greys Bay and Dalrymple Point, which in turn attract hoards of surface busting behemoths which prove excellent targets for sport fishers.

These bait schools attract a huge array of sportfish species from heavy set grey mackerel, school sized Spanish macks, long tail and mac tuna, XOS queenfish, golden trevally, thumper GT and bludger trevally, which really make you think twice when pulling out the light gear.

Customising your fishing techniques, gear and lure offerings is the best way to target specific bait ball feeding species and having a range of heavy, medium and light fishing rod and reel combinations on hand is highly recommended to cater for the diverse array of fish species on offer.

The most prolific species on offer are grey mackerel. Many local anglers refer to these fish as the ‘summer greys’ and are a popular target as they are large in size with the average fish up around the 6-8kg mark. These fish will be easily spotted as they tend to work bait to the surface sending sprays of tiny bait fish across the water as they chop away.

Casting and retrieving metal lures at top speed at surface busting fish is the most prolific way to snare them, however, if the fish are more scattered (especially if there are a few boats working them) then trolling small minnow style lures is a better option.

These fish are most commonly found just off Lighthouse Island about 500m off Dalrymple Point and they are certainly a possible target for land-based fishers as well. Keep an eye out for trolling tinnies around Dalrymple Point as this is a good sign that the bait balls have arrived.

If you are more into bending a rod for some sport fishing action then the copious amounts of trevally is where you should concentrate your efforts. These fish range in size from plate-sized golden and silver trevally right up to metre-sized bludger and turrum, and they all give an excellent account for themselves.

For those chasing the smaller species, small deep diving minnows sent into frenzied bait is an excellent option as the trevally tend to be below the surface-busting mack action and picking off the scraps.

If you prefer the larger species like GT and queenfish, then big cup faced poppers around the 85-125 size or stickbaits around the 125-155 size cast into and around the edges of frenzied bait are an excellent option. These larger trevally species often feed upon the smaller mack and trevally that are chasing the smaller bait so surface style lures are very effective.

If the bait is not being worked then sinking stickbaits and bucktail jigs are very effective lures as they will swim below the bait schools where the bigger fish are cruising.

For flyfishing fans, these bait balls frenzies are a great opportunity to put a bend in the long wand. Small baitfish profiles are your best bet and with so many species on offer it can pretty much be a lucky dip at times.

Speaking of the fly, I was up around Camp Island/Silver Shoals Lodge a couple of weeks ago and the schools of milkfish were absolutely huge and feeding ferociously around the fringing island reefs. Many of these fish were pushing the 5kg mark with some even larger. If you are keen to add one of these fish to your capture list then this spot is definitely one to check out.

Luckily Christmas is just around the corner as December is definitely one of those months when the hardbody and soft plastic collection take a hiding. With the early onset of the wet season and most long range forecasts predicting a wetter than average summer, don’t be surprised if the jelly and banana prawn populations explode in December; great news for Bowen Creek Fishos.

When the jelly and banana prawns come on, the local jack populations tend to put on a lot of size and weight very quickly as there is an abundance of food in the creeks. Rat-sized jacks tend to be very scarce this time of year and December is definitely a prime time for jack fishers to tangle with trophy-sized fish that will certainly test your leader, knots split rings and trebles.

While hardbody lures will prove successful in snaring plenty of heavy set jacks, matching your lure to the abundant bait in the creeks will definitely bring more strikes.

For this time of year it is hard to go past many of the prawn styled soft plastics on the market as their imitation and prawn like movements prove lethal on the prawn gorged jacks. Some of my personal favourites that have always been extremely successful include the Gulp banana prawn and the Atomic Prong pearl prawn and natural colours always tend to be the best.

Fishing these imitations into areas where prawn bait gathered is your best bet, especially when the bait is being harassed. Jacks will often hole up near these big populations as they are an easy food source, so multiple hook ups is not unusual for this time of year.

Don’t be surprised if a few threadfin salmon also join the party as these fish seem to be making a comeback in many Bowen rivers and creeks.

December is also a favourite month for crabbers in Bowen as it often spells the return of consistent catches of big rusty bucks. With the early rain we have already had mud crabs working well and they should only get better this month.

Creeks like Meatworks and Boat Creek and the Elliot always crab well in December and can almost guarantee you a feed for Xmas Day. Duck Creek and the area down around Billys, Kangaroo and the Gregory will also have plenty of crabs on offer as well. These creeks will also be holding good populations of banana prawns as well, so taking the cast net or drag net with you if you are heading south is a must.

Next month will bring a new year and hopefully one with a lot less wind than 2010. This year has definitely been one of the windiest years around and finding a calm couple of days to head out wide has been harder than finding your bag limit of barra.

With so much bad weather around, many of the blue water spots out wide have seen little fishing, which means there should be some big hungry fish on offer.

January is a great month for chasing coral trout, especially around the shallow reefs and shoals in and around Bowen. Spots like Southern Cross Reef and Cheyabassa Reef always produce plenty of trout in January and the outer reefs will produce plenty of quality reef fish.

Those chasing reds out around the Shoals east of Holbourne will be best to fish at night as the hot weather during the day tends to put the nannys off the bite. These wider spots are a little difficult to fish with the weather being very unstable with so much moisture around, however, they are certainly worth the effort to fish this time of year.

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