Deep Thinking
  |  First Published: March 2011

Hopefully you’ve all got into a few nice barra to open up the 2011 barra season. It’s been a crazy February with record rain, cyclones and a colour change that can now be seen from space! Nevertheless as ‘Townsvillions’ we have weathered this kind of activity for many decades and learnt how to find fish it in the meantime.

While the start of the barra season has been one of the best that I have seen for some time, I wouldn’t be as bold as to say that we are in the run-off period now. With numerous cyclones expected, I’d have that once a year poncho ready for a double whammy of run off fishing ahead.

Last month saw the expected wave of anglers hit Aplins weir in search of the metre-plus fish and they weren’t disappointed, with big live baits proving the best seek and destroy method. Lure enthusiasts were kept entertained with the many just undersize barra taking small minnows and soft plastics.

However, be on your guard while chasing the smaller fish on light tackle as Aplins can produce some of the biggest mangrove jacks this planet has ever seen! Last year there were a few reports of fish up to 70cm caught, and I don’t believe there is a mangrove root, or a river system for that matter, that can house such a massive beast!

March will be your best chance to nail some quality fish, and the easiest way to find athletic chrome barramundi is with live bait. Fishing the headlands and eddies in river systems makes life a little easier as you will be out of the run.

Big live baits is the key, and I don’t believe there is a bait too big for big barra, so make sure your hooks are appropriate against big baits. Expect big queenfish to hit baits as well as they have been seen schooling in these areas and are an absolute ball to catch any time of the year.

Last month saw a great stint of good weather hold out for a phenomenal period and allowed anglers time to head out to the reefs and shoals dodging what can only be described as a tree graveyard. Travelling at night is not an option as I have seen trees that Blinky Bill would have called the ‘Hilton’ floating around the Maggie shoals area.

Commercially the reports have been very slow with plenty of fish to show for on the sounder, but nothing to show in the esky. Recreational anglers have struggled just the same on the reefs but the Maggie shoals tell a totally different story.

The notorious Maggie Shoals has been absolutely alive at the moment with the whole water column on fire, producing non stop action for those willing to put in the time. Large mouth nannygai, cobia, and plagues of undersize red emperor have kept bottom bashers happy throughout a course of a day’s fishing. Trolled lures have found good numbers of Spanish mackerel, but only around the 8kg mark. A few spots have turned up some quality red emperor which may indicate an early season for red fishing on these shoals.

Deep ledges and low lying coral beds in channels between reefs have also produced some excellent reds of a night time. But these fish have been wrist crackers with red emperor averaging the 10kg mark and large mouth nannygai well and truly on par. Many had set themselves up for a long night of fishing, but with fading light the reds came on thick and strong, with most reports telling of a good nights sleep meeting quota by 10pm.

While the schools of tuna around this time of year can be hard catch, it’s well worth the effort as I don’t know of any fish that doesn’t like the oily flesh of a mac tuna. Cut into chunky slabs, this can make an excellent offering for all species.

Don’t forget March is the prime time for big prawns and crabs, and concentrating your efforts around the moon will eliminate a lot of prospecting trips in between. Areas such as Ross River, Ross Creek, Pallarenda and Bushland Beach will hold good numbers of prawns while the mouth of Cocoa, Crocodile and Alligator creeks will be where you want to be for some rusty bucks!

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