Cool Runnings
  |  First Published: June 2011

It’s that time of the year again; cool mornings and warm days make Queensland so popular in these months. Our cool mornings rarely get below 10ºc in the middle of winter so we’re very spoilt up here. June should produce plenty of these beautiful Queensland winter days, which gives the smaller boats a chance to venture out for a reef fish.

Inshore Offshore

The floods had a positive effect on most of the region’s fishing including out front. Inshore there has been some excellent pelagic action with school and Spanish mackerel hitting trolled lures and floating baits. There have been plenty of tuna schools with bonito, mac and a few northern blues all busting into the many bait schools.

The most productive way to get these fish on the end of your line is to cast steel slices slightly ahead of the feeding schools then wind it back as fast as you can. My favourite is the Halco 40g slice; it casts like a bullet and when worked really fast across the top it looks like a skipping baitfish. When tuna hit it on the surface it’s quite spectacular.

On the bottom in close there have been some nice sized grunter caught but they will slow down as it cools. The smaller reefs inshore are producing some nice sweetlip with a few snapper. As it cools the snapper will get bigger so look out and plan a night trip on one of those cool calm evenings.

Offshore has really fired up with all the usual suspects being caught including coral trout, hussar, cod, red emperor and a host more for those with bigger boats. There has also been some big Spanish mackerel patrolling the outer reefs so a floating pillie or live bait set while your dropping a line to the bottom would be a good idea.

I managed to head offshore in my 4.1m Polycraft recently and it was one of those days that started calm and just got calmer as the day progressed. With my mates in their boat we ventured out to the Five Degree patch, which is pretty much due north of the river mouth.

We managed to get a few fish to the boat and we were doing our own thing when Tony, my mate in the other boat, said he was going to anchor up a few hundred meters from where we were drifting. I noticed after a while Tony was still drifting so I went over and asked why he hadn’t anchored. He laughed and said when Pete opened the anchor hatch and stuck his hand in to grab out the anchor he was confronted by a very confused python. Yes a snake had decided to make Tony’s anchor well his place to hibernate for the winter.

We had a great day that day even though the calmer sea meant harder fishing. We managed a feed and I had a ball putting down my Minn Kota electric motor and locking it on anchor while I was twenty miles out to sea.

Burnett River

The river has been a bit hot and cold; there have been reports of good fish being caught then also reports of catfish terrorising anglers. A good way to minimise catfish captures is to try fishing with a few lures, it won’t stop all catties but it will slow them down.

If you want to have a crack at a bit of lure fishing the easiest way to get into a few fish is to troll small lures along the many rock walls in the river. I found even the cheap shallow runners you get out of the specials bin at the tackle store will work on estuary cod, trevally, even the bream will whack a small lure that darts around the rocks. The other advantage of using a cheaper lure is that it doesn’t hurt too much if a mangrove jack grabs it and adds it to his tackle box.

The mouth of the river will be well worth a few visits this month as the cooler water temps bring in the big queenfish and trevally. Surface fishing for them around any nervous looking bait schools before the boat traffic starts will improve your odds of getting a hook up. Some big salmon have also been encountered around the river mouth on live prawns.

Kayak Capers

I managed a few days kayak fishing and got to introduce a few mates to the joys of fishing while kayaking. I headed off the beach at Coona chasing tuna and mackerel that where feeding on the bait schools.

My plan of attack was to troll one lure while having a rod rigged with a steel slice on it ready if I got close enough to the tuna. I explained this plan to my friend Tim who hadn’t fished from a kayak before but was keen to give it a go. I told Tim we paddle out, find the birds feeding, and then cast slices at them.

After paddling through the small surf, we paddled out a kilometre or so, saw the tuna feed and Tim cast out his slice and was instantly on. He was fishing out of my Fish Bandit kayak, which is pretty small for open water work so when hooked up to a rampaging tuna he and the Bandit were at the mercy of the fish.

Within minutes Tim was nearly out of sight. I knew I didn’t need to follow him because he’d probably be dragged back, and he was. Unfortunately for Tim the fish finally threw the lure gaining its freedom.

We managed to catch some nice school mackerel, which makes for some nervous times in a kayak with a toothy mac with a lure hanging out of its mouth sitting in your lap. We had a ball and inspired a few more guys to enjoy the thrill that is kayak fishing.

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