February is always a solid month for all types of fishing in the Whitsundays. From the bluewater all the way up to the creeks and inshore areas, it’s often a great time of year for fishing. The warm weather this month should make a lot of fish active and on the hunt for food.
The estuary fishing should be a great choice in February with the warm weather heating up the fishing action. Anything could show up in the saltwater estuaries such as barramundi, mangrove jack, threadfin salmon, fingermark, queenfish, golden and giant trevally to name a few.
The best times to fish will be during low light as this is when a lot of these fish feed hardest. It’s also cooler and more comfortable to fish. The best places to start looking are any likely fish holding areas - a drop-off, some timber lying in the water, oyster rocks or deep bends in the river can all be productive spots. Soft plastic baitfish and crustacean imitations work well on estuary targets.
We like to use Squidgy Wrigglers and Squidgy Fish on light TT jigheads for flathead, bream and smaller estuary fish. For larger specimens we like to use larger baits over 13cm such as big Squidgy Fish and Flickbaits. Floating or suspending hardbodies such as the Rapala X-Raps can also be highly effective estuary lures.
We were recently fishing a mangrove lined river with a floating Rapala X-Rap and got a strike from a fish that felt quite solid. After quickly setting the hooks and trying to get a feel for what it was, we started to think it might be a mangrove jack with the short, sharp runs it was making. Then, the line started to rise out of the water, which is typical of a barramundi coming up to the surface to jump. All of a sudden a barramundi of 70cm clears the water but it wasn’t the jump that amazed us. We noticed it had no tail whatsoever!
When it was in the net we examined the fish and we’re amazed! Its wound had healed very well and it was impressive to see that it was able to keep living and hunting for food, let alone jump clear of the water! It was the only barra we’ve caught like this and we believe its tail must have been bitten off by shark at some stage of its life. The cut looked quite clean which indicated it was more likely a shark than a crocodile. It was great to see it swim off strongly!
If you don’t have a boat or prefer land based fishing, there are still heaps of options to catch some quality fish.
A top spot to try is the rock wall near the VMR station in Cannonvale. This area consistently produces a range of estuary fish on baits and lures. It’s best to use finesse fishing to get good results around these areas as the fish are usually more flighty.
Finesse fishing means using lighter lines and leaders, lighter terminal tackle and more natural, fresh baits. There are some very big fish that can be caught around the rock walls. Some anglers have caught some very big barramundi from the rocks casting lures early in the morning or into the evening and night. The best conditions are when there’s a lot of bait around such as schools of garfish or mullet. Remember, most estuary fish species prefer to hang around cover so don’t cast your bait way out into the deep. A lot of fish will be feeding right near the edge, just out from the rocks. Barra, mangrove jacks, fingermark, flathead and bream can all be caught at these rock walls using this technique.
February looks likely to be a good month, now we just hope for the rains to stop and the cyclones to stay away, we’ve had almost enough of the rain.Reads: 2377