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Sweers Sweet Session
  |  First Published: July 2011



We are in the midst of an awesome mackerel season, thanks to the cooler temperatures, and I can only hope that they stay around for some time yet. The barramundi have gone quiet but it is to expected in water temperatures below 23ºC.

June was also a great time to be at Sweers Island. I took my three brothers over there to check it out as they had never caught fish before.

We pulled up to our first spot, set the anchor, and all dropped our rigs to the bottom on the go signal. Four hook ups resulted in two golden snapper over 70cm, a nannygai over 60cm and a sweetlip of 32cm. I spent the next 30 minutes unhooking and bleeding the catch as they continued to pull up big fish after big fish.

The good fishing was plentiful and our arrival at Sweers Island was received in good humour by everyone except those fellows leaving to go back to Longreach. They had been through strong winds and had to go as the winds settled down and the fishing got hot.

Having already caught plenty of fish to take home, we went to the Burketown Shoals to see if we could catch and release some more. They were still there and on the chew but the size had changed to 55-60cm – not bad by any standard. I caught my new PB bat fish that was a real whopper. It put up an awesome fight and was released after the photo to terrorise some more anglers.

Congratulations go to my brother Geoffrey who caught the first and biggest mother-in-law fish for the trip (I only told him the species after the photo). The boys caught plenty of cod and barracudas while trolling and enjoyed the fantastic food and company of our hosts, Tex and Lyn Battle and Mick and Lee Davies. I hope to see them next year.

Try the bridge at Normanton on dark for some great king salmon action on prawns or live bait if you have some. The lights will attract the bait and the salmon should not be far behind. You can go to the Albion for a nice feed and then relax and wait for the fish to arrive. You will need to bring your own chairs as the ones there are usually already taken. It can get cool so don't forget to take a jumper as well.

Grunter and salmon will be in the river up near the powerlines on the rubble patches at this time of year. This is a good option for when the wind blows and makes it rough out the front. Go early to get a good spot or wait and go late to find the hot spots where all the boats are anchored together.

Spanish mackerel can turn up in good sizes in July so make sure you have decent gear if targeting them. The place to look is the drop-off on the north east side of the sand island. Anchor up and send out a little berley often, which is better than a lot at once. Ganged hooks and a wire trace connected to a pilly should do the job if your berley trail is successful.

SWEERS ISLAND

The cool weather continues and the early drop in water temperature has really got the pelagics on the bite. Water temperatures of less than 20ºC were recorded in late May, which is unusual, and was reflected in early catches of Spanish mackerel, much to the delight of the resort guests.

An unusually high number of grunter are also being caught this year. Tackle varies from trusty old handline (yes, Spanish mackerel can be hauled in this way) to the latest high tech rods now on sale and specially built for the lodge.

The lingering winter has restricted boating somewhat, but fishos have been surprised at the variety and size of fish being caught off the beach. Normally it’s just bream in front of the filleting station – which are fun for kids or more casual fishos – with the occasional queenie or trevally off the point, however this year we are seeing a good variety of big grunter, GT, queenie and salmon sticking close to shore during the southeaster blow-ups.

Remember that heavy tackle is required for the Spaniards, and we expect some whoppers this year after the promising early start. Meanwhile out on the reefs, the usual mix of coral trout, cod, stripey, sweetlip and parrotfish have been outnumbered by the red emperor and scarlet sea perch. It’s all good news!

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