Monsoonal Mayhem
  |  First Published: December 2010

Fishing around Bowen in January is heavily influenced by the amount of monsoonal activity experienced. Bowen has already seen some significant falls early this summer, so you can bet the heavy rainfall will continue this month. For anglers it will definitely be a case of making the most of the opportunities when the wind and rain hold off.

There will be plenty of action in the creeks in January. While many of the creeks systems will be affected by the freshwater run off this does not mean the creek fishing has to suffer. By making a few subtle changes in technique, lure selection and location fishers are still able to tangle with some bruiser jacks.

The biggest influence the fresh will have on the creek fishing will be water clarity and lure visibility. During times of weather stability, Bowen’s creeks usually offer some excellent water clarity. However once the bigger feeder systems like the Don River and The Elliot River get a strong run from the catchments, this relatively clear water turns to a deep brown sediment-filled mud mixture that sees water clarity drop to zero. This can make lure fishing in the creeks quite tough.

Target species like mangrove jack rely heavily on seeing or sensing their prey so with limited visibility lure placement and colour become major factors.

Lure placement is key and positioning lures deep into the structure becomes integral. You really need to put the lure right on their noses for them to see it. Casting lures parallel to mangrove laden banks is an excellent way to keep the lure in the strike zone and to get the attention of your target fish.

Lure colour also plays a big role and in dirty water conditions and it is hard to go past colours like white, fluorescent greens and pinks which really stand out in dirty water. White, or clear ‘ghost’ coloured lures are an excellent choice and contrast well with the murky water, making them excellent targets for predatory fish.

Lure retrieval is also important and using hardbody lures that are designed for twitch retrieval, such as medium-sized Rapala X-Raps and Husky Jerks are an excellent choice. These lures have a great casting weight and can be twitched through structure keeping the lure in the strike zone for longer periods of time with a great fish attracting action. Blades are also an excellent option as the vibrations generated from the lures deep in structure are excellent for attracting fish in dirty water.

All creeks throughout Bowen will be holding excellent populations of jacks in January and with so much rain about it is looking like there will be a bumper barra season not too far away either!

Another species that will be moving well with the freshwater runs in January is the Bowen mud crab. January is always a top time to sink a few pots around the many creeks and estuaries around Bowen. Creeks like Boat Creek, Bob Moses, and Meatworks are all within a short boat trip from the mouth of the Don River and hold excellent numbers of big muddies this time of year.

A bit further north, The Elliot River is also a high yielding mud crab spot and is also readily accessible this time of year. With the freshwater dominating the tops of creeks, crabbing the open flat style areas closer to the mouths of creeks especially on the big tides will be an excellent idea.

For those without a boat, walking a few pots at low tide around the big open mangrove flats and creek mouths between the Bowen Town Jetty and the Big Mango will also be an excellent option. This spot always produces plenty when there is a lot of freshwater around, as the crabs take up residence in the thick dugong grass beds found in this area. You can tell when the crabs are moving here as they often have a light tinged green/purple algae growing on their shells.

Creeks further south like Adelaide, Duck Creek and the bigger systems like the Gregory at the bottom of Sinclair Bay will also produce big numbers of crabs and have the added bonus of holding healthy populations of big banana prawns – so don’t forget to take the cast net.

Hopefully the New Year will bring less wind than 2010 and January is one the best months to tangle with the many tasty reef fish on offer around Bowen’s many islands. Whether it is bottom bashing the deep water bommies around Middle, Stone or Glouster islands or popping, stick baiting or soft plasticing the coral ledges and drop-offs there is usually plenty of big coral trout, tusk fish and sweetlip on offer for blue water fishers.

Bowen’s countless island bays, like Shark Bay at Stone Island, East Side Bay at Glouster Island and the south facing coral ledge of Middle Island offer sport anlgers plenty of opportunity to entice tasty reef fish to jump on big cup faced poppers and stick baits, as well as sportfish such as GT, queenfish and tuna as well. Holbourne Island and Nares Rock further out also hold big numbers of tasty reef and hard fighting sportfish this time of year and with plenty of current anglers should see some excellent action out this way in January.

For bait fishers, live baits of squid, fusiliers or hussar set either on the pressure points of bommies or at the base of deep water ledges will prove to be the best bet for a big trout, tusky or red.


February usually sees Bowen’s most intense rainfall, which sees some huge freshwater run offs into the creeks and inshore blue water areas. The combination of these weather patterns and the start of the barra season will see plenty of anglers peppering the many points and headlands scattered around Bowen hoping to entice a big barramundi. These fish tend to take up residence in these areas and for land-based anglers this is the best time of year to target a big barra.

With such a big wet already, the barra season looks like it will be an exceptional one which will be great news for Bowen.

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