Diversity in times of Adversity
  |  First Published: March 2011

With the rains stopping for a while we have been trying to diversify a bit by fishing the rivers and the ocean, giving Monduran a break as the waters subside from the floods.

I didn’t have great expectations about fishing the rivers as they were still very muddy and dirty. But to my pleasant surprise we discovered the jacks were still on the bite, and spent two days targeting them in the local waterways.

Crag Griffiths, my son Tommy and I headed out to fish in less than ideal conditions: 23º air temperature, rain and howling 25 to 30 knot winds, but the jacks seemed to turn on for us. We mainly used Rapala Shad Raps and various other lures to catch about fish per day.

We also travelled offshore with my son and his mates from school. We headed out in perfect conditions and watched the water change from a chocolate brown to the blue that we regularly see along our coastline. The brown water headed out for some 8 miles where the sediment lines were very distinctive and lots of small tuna were feeding, but we couldn’t tempt one with a lure.

We continued out further to discover a small sailfish free jumping some 20 miles from the coast, the sailfish entered our spread of lures, it investigated our lure repeatedly but disappeared uninterested in our artificial offering. We soon found the bait that the sailfish was chasing and filled the bait tank with some good size yakkas.

Using our freshly caught live baits we hooked up almost instantly and a large mackerel went speeding through the water close to the boat unloading some of the 8kg line we were fishing with. The young guys struggled with such a large fish and soon it succumbed to a large hammerhead shark that was later released at the boat.

The boys were ecstatic and for most of them it was their first time seeing a large predatory shark in the wild. The next baits were loaded over the side on the big Stellas with the drags backed off to accommodate 12-year-olds. The next hit was fast and furious and resulted in our first bust off of the day.

A school of cobia rose to the surface identifying the culprits of our first hook up. Moments later we hooked a small one and Will Wagstaff landed his first cobia after an exhausting fight. We continued being busted up by large cobia and Spanish mackerel all afternoon.

The kids were all taking turns, we had two rods going at the same time. My heart was in my mouth as they hung on to the big Stella reels with fish screaming off line; their feet came off the deck, almost dislodging angler and rod. Great to see we had the same head count returning home as coming out.

The last to hook up was young Sam Davidson who was waiting a long time but the wait was certainly worth it as he hooked his first large cod.

We continued to fish the following day heading out in the afternoon and managed to find the big Spanish mackerel.

The first fish of the day was landed by Joel Pearson, who hauled in the largest fish of the week, a very impressive 40kg Spanish mackerel.

Large schools of jellybean size yellowfin tuna splashed around in big schools and they fell victim to small trolled lures and spinning lures.

I find it hard to predict what the future holds for the offshore fishing as the monsoonal weather has made the fishing unpredictable.

Lake Monduran still seems to be hibernating as the water settles. The water continues to run over the spillway as more water is still running in from external creeks.

Contrary to popular belief all the fish haven’t gone over the wall, only a small percentage. It should only be a matter of the water settling down and consistent warmer weather to return this lake to its former fishing glory. I would hope with plenty of warm weather the fishing will come back in the weeks ahead.

Local rivers are still dangerous, shallow and very muddy from the rain, but the fishing is still good and can only continue to improve as the waters clean up.

Large amounts of debris and changed conditions will make all of our waterways dangerous so be careful as water levels return to normal levels.

With this in mind I think we will be in for a tough year of fishing with all the impoundments. MASA have just released more fingerlings into Lake Monduran securing future stocks of barramundi for the lake.

However weather permitting, we should be in for a great year ahead offshore. The recent rains will only flush the rivers and creeks, producing some awesome reef and game fishing.

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