Opportunities Aplenty
  |  First Published: May 2011

The Whitsundays has plenty to offer in May. The air and water temperatures are gradually cooling but that doesn’t mean the fishing won’t be hot. The islands, inshore areas and Peter Faust Dam hold plenty of opportunities for some excellent fishing this month.

Saltwater pelagics

If you’re into tropical sportfishing, there should be lots on offer for you. Queenfish, golden trevally and giant trevally are the most common species and range from small packs patrolling the shallows to very big sizes found mainly in deeper water.

If you’re casting lures for these fish, it’s best to try a range of different types and techniques to find out what works the best. Surface poppers and stickbaits, soft plastics with different weights and sizes and metal chromes are the most successful pelagic lures.

However, there’s a new type of lure that is becoming an effective addition to this line up - the metal vibration bait or blade. This lure attracts fish because of the strong vibrations it sends through the water. You can really feel the lure work when you pulse your rod. To a predator fish, this must feel like the vibrations of a baitfish that is kicking its tail madly and in distress. One type of blade lure that is built for pelagic and reef fish is the new Switchblade HD which we used to good effect on a recent trip.

We were fishing for GT around the islands when we spotted several seabirds hovering over the water – a sure sign of active pelagics. We watched the birds roam and hover for a while. They were constantly looking down into the water which meant they were there for a reason. All of a sudden they started to dive and dash into the water. At the same time, the familiar sight of several pelagics thrashing the water surface caught our eye. We couldn’t really tell what type of fish they were as the surface action only lasted 5-10 seconds at a time before the fish disappeared. Every so often they would pop up and thrash the water to foam.

We followed the movements of the birds and sure enough, the short surface frenzy appeared once more. We quickly pitched in the TT Switchblade HD and gave it a couple of hops and then let it sink. As it dropped through the water column it was engulfed. After a few deep runs the fish launched out of the water finally giving us a species ID – a nice sized queenfish.

We went on to catch several more larger queenies using this technique and had a fun trip thanks to the effectiveness of the blades.

Targeting big GT will be worth the effort this month and many of the islands hold these fish in large numbers. Casting large poppers would have to be the easiest approach when targeting fish over 25kg. Big stickbaits also work very well, but can be a little tricky to retrieve for beginners. The 120g Williamson Jet Popper is an excellent saltwater surface popper and works well on hefty GT. It casts very well and has a nice cup face which disturbs the surface of the water very well when retrieved.

Peter Faust Dam

At the end of last month there was about four days of continuous rainfall and the lake rose 1.5m over capacity. The rising water level flooded three picnic tables and left about 20cm of boat ramp, something that you’d find hard to believe a few years ago.

The barramundi fishing has been good in the lake despite the overflowing water.

If you’re planning on targeting a few barramundi at Peter Faust Dam this month, make sure you bring a range of lures from surface walk-the-dog lures to a range of soft plastics and hardbodies. Flooded bushes in the shallows can be productive areas to fish for barramundi as they can offer cover and also attract baitfish such as boney bream and barred grunter. Laydown and fallen timber can also be good spots to fish, especially if they are lying in a good position with plenty of limbs and branches.

Sooty grunter have also been caught in quite good numbers showing that these fish are thriving in the lake. These can be caught using lures such as Jackall Mask Vibs, jighead rigged plastics and small poppers.

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