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Time to Shine
  |  First Published: February 2011



No one should be complaining about the amount of rain we have had over the past few months, as this crucial run-off period could produce some of the best fishing for the next couple of years.

It gives all species a chance to move between the salt and the fresh to do what we all want them to do and make millions of babies to replenish stocks. It looks like this year will see the rain continue well into February and give us all a chance to have a crack at some run-off fishing.

The best period to target barra is when the water is receding, and things look like they may be returning to normal. Barra will sit in the last of the running water until they feel as though the water will catch them and leave them high and dry. Don’t ask me how these highly instinctual creatures know when to leave, they just know.

A good area to try a bit of run-off fishing is the infamous Aplins Weir. Many novice anglers have notched up a metre-plus fish well before any experienced angler will any other time of year. It’s a buzzing place but angler’s etiquette must be applied to avoid the drama, abuse and embarrassment. Remember that patience is the key.

It’s not uncommon to find fish well over the metre mark caught at the weir and it’s this time of year I hear of many fish over the 120cm mark released to fight another day. These fish generally come from live bait. Lures will see good numbers caught but generally won’t catch you the bigger fish. Big live baits are the key and heavy gear is recommended to tame such a wild beast. Let’s hope 2011 is going to be a bumper season!

I think the weather gods have felt sorry for us over the past month and finally blessed us with some fantastic weather with many boats shaking off the dust, and hitting the water to their favourite reef spots. The Magnetic Island shoals in particular have been alive with good captures of large-mouth nannygai, red emperor and the unseasonable Spanish mackerel all in good numbers. The only explanation is that the fresh water has pushed the bait out onto the shoals bringing with it the predators.

The reef fishing has been a little hit and miss with a large majority of boats failing to bring home a decent feed of fish to show for a day’s fishing. However, there have been some exceptions with well known wrecks producing mind blowing fishing with copious amounts of large-mouth, and a healthy swag of red emperors to complement the days tally. But we know the fish are there because spearos have cashed in finding large numbers of docile trout and red throat there for the taking if you’re willing to break the surface!

As previously mentioned, the buzz of capturing some of anglings top sport fishing species has drawn many back to the shelf to target the likes of massive dogtooth, mahi mahi, wahoo and also XOS coral trout. Whether your jigging, trolling or relaxing with a fresh slab of bait the results can be phenomenal and there’s rarely a dull moment which ever way you go. Summer is prime time for dogtooth tuna and a recent trip saw the biggest specimen I have witnessed landed, with a fish estimated at over 45kg coming from the rich waters off Townsville.

In these fertile waters just about anything that hits the bottom will get some kind of attention, but of course some lures or jigs will out fish others. It pays to have a wide selection of lures, as the match the hatch theory still applies even though most of the predators out here can easily dismember a leg or an arm if need be! You will be surprised how small some lures need to be to get a bite some times, and a decrease in leader size will dramatically increase the bites as well.

For those who have never caught a barra before, this time of year has to be your time to shine as the chances of securing your first salt water specimen is very high. Look at beaches such as Pallarenda, Toomulla, Toolakea and Balgal to concentrate your time and effort, and find plenty of good size live mullet.

Try work you’re fishing around the high tide and fish the run-out, and don’t be afraid to fish it right to the death! If all goes to plan you should be sitting in your lounge room with your first ever barra pic nestled on the wall right next to the TV. But most of all have fun!

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