The wet season has tailed off and we are moving into dry season weather patterns and typical winter fishing.
We’ve seen some significant transitions occur over the last month including the barra shutting down for their seasonal slumber, making them extremely hard to entice. Live prawns have been the only bait worth trying and catching a barra now has become the exception rather than the norm. Pockets of water holding plenty of sunlight and thus increasing the water temperature are the best spots to try.
Mangrove jack and fingermark have also become a tad harder to extract but these super species are being readily replaced by grunter, trevally, flathead, queenfish, bream and estuary cod. With the southeasterly trade winds in effect it is important to have the wind and the tide running in the same direction to maximise your success. In our case this means fishing the incoming tides at most river locations.
Once the tide and wind are fighting against each other the fishing becomes extremely tough particularly if there are big tides on a windy day. If you find the fishing conditions tough and live bait is scarce it is often worthwhile substituting your baits down to fresh dead baits such as prawns, squid and pilchards (even a combination) and you will still catch a variety of fish.
Offshore we’ve already seen plenty of high pressure systems roll across the continent causing periods of howling winds, but once the winds abate the fishing is very good on the outer reefs. Large-mouth nannygai and red emperor continue to power on in great numbers and big sizes and are equally backed up with a good supply of small-mouth nannygai, cobia, reef mangrove jack, trevally species and sweetlip.
The reef fishing on the whole has got off to a flying start this year and the best is still to come. The deeper water is holding all the trumps at the moment and the shallows are very patchy with the absence of the coral trout. The coral trout have yet to fire to their best potential and have remained at times elusive and inconsistent.
However they should settle into a rhythm this coming month and become a staple catch on the reef. Once the trout kick into full flight it will complete the reef experience and offers the best angling opportunities at this time of year.
Another species yet to really kick into gear has been the Spanish mackerel which have got off to a very sluggish start this year. The extended fresh water that saturated our coastline for months after the big wet season has had an effect on the pelagic scene but this has since dissipated and we are now starting to see better results.
What I call our ‘local barometer’ locations such as Snapper Island, Satellite Reef and Pratts Rock further north are now just starting to produce better numbers of Spanish mackerel. When these locations are on fire you can guarantee the activity has spread further out to the Paddocks where the mackerel seem to gather in huge numbers.
Always have a floating pilchard or live bait while reef fishing or for your best results troll a spread of two diving lures and two garfish on wog heads.
The deep marks where you normally fish for nannygai and the likes will also be holding mackerel as well. If you pick up a mackerel at one spot, work the area over as there’s sure to be more. Spanish mackerel are a local favourite, because they taste great and you get plenty of return per fish as they are mostly body with a small head. A 10kg model could easily feed a family of five, three times over.
It’s been a great stretch over the last month or so for mud crabs in our local creeks and estuaries. Working those bigger tides the famous mud crab has been found in a sections of our systems including the upper reaches, feeder creeks, the main channels and coastal mangrove flats.
Those who really like chasing down a feed of crab have said it has been one of the best years in a very, very long time. The key is to work those bigger tides.
So looking ahead the reef fishing will start to peak, the mackerel are due to hit their straps and mud crabbing is well worth the effort. In the tropics when one door closes another opens and offers a new range of angling opportunities. That’s why we love it up here!Reads: 1320