New Year Biting
  |  First Published: December 2010

The New Year has arrived and it looks to be another warm, tropical north Queensland January. The humid weather and warm water temperatures will create top notch fishing opportunities with active fish willing to feed.

From the Whitsunday islands to the estuaries and Peter Faust Dam, the whole area should provide some excellent fishing this month.


The Whitsunday islands should offer some excellent sportfishing throughout January. Queenfish and trevally species in particular should be well worth targeting. The most exciting way of catching these fish would be to use surface lures as the strikes are visual and great to watch.

Queenfish, golden trevally and giant trevally can be found along the shallow sand flats of the islands on high tide and can even be sight-casted to. They will generally cruise the shallows hunting large baits such as mullet, herring and garfish. Smaller trevally species seem to move along the shallows and hunt in schools whereas the larger fish seem to be more solitary.

Any shallow sand flats that have a lot of baitfish often have predator fish somewhere around the vicinity. If a flat is full of water on high tide at the same time as the sun is setting or rising, you’ll often find that more fish will come up into the shallows to feed. The best lures to use on the sand flats are usually poppers with a fast retrieve or slow, sharp, pulses and pauses. Metal chrome lures also work well with a fast paced retrieve.

Reef species such as coral trout, emperor, tuskfish and sweetlip are also fun targets and can be caught on fresh baits, casting soft plastics amongst the coral or trolling along the deep reef edges.


Closer to the mainland, the estuary and inshore fishing should be very good during January. Flathead, bream, mangrove jacks and fingermark should be a worthwhile target using baits and lures.

One way to locate these fish is to target ‘fish-holding’ features. These are basically areas that have a combination of features that attract fish. The main ingredients that make up a prime spot are cover or structure, a drop-off to deep water, baitfish nearby and current flow. An area that has all of these features usually has some type of predator species close by.


Peter Faust Dam is currently sitting at 90% capacity with the water level about a metre and a half below the spillway. If a tropical cyclone travels past the area or consistent flooding occurs, the dam could easily flow over the spillway. The lake rose about 20% through January and February last year and if it does half of that amount early this year, it will overflow for the first time.

The stocked barramundi in the lake should be quite active during the days and nights. The warm water temperatures tend to make the fish more active in shallow and deep water. Either casting and trolling should work well throughout the lake.

For fishing in the morning with calm conditions, the Rapala X-Rap Walk can be a great lure to use. Its long casting ability allows you to throw it out over the shallows and cover a lot of ground in search of feeding fish. Being a surface walk-the-dog type of lure, it usually works best in low light conditions when fish are actively hunting food. Soft plastics such as the Squidgy Slick Rig in 110 and 130mm are a popular choice and these can be worked down deeper when the fish move out from the shallows as the day heats up.

Diving hardbodies are another lure that can swim down and reach these deeper holding fish. The Rapala X-Rap Magnum 10 and 15 works well with an erratic action and pauses.

For trolling, it’s often best to troll deep divers in the daylight and shallower lures at night. Make sure you give the lures some extra action and allow them to pause as this triggers more fish into biting.

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