Warming Winter without the Woolies
  |  First Published: July 2011

You know it is winter fishing when the locals scrounge through their closets looking for a pullover to wear. The days are beautiful but once those shadows fall the nights are quite fresh and crisp which is a really nice change from the constant humidity.

The fish also undergo a transformation in our tropical waters during the cooler dry spell months. In a nutshell the river fishing becomes a bit tougher and the offshore fishing goes into overdrive.

Keeping with the positives, by now we are really seeing a pattern develop with our offshore fishing particularly for our reef fin species. There is really good fishing to be found anywhere between 20-40m of water with some bigger species now prepared to explore the shallower turf.

In the shallows besides the stock standard coral trout, stripeys and sweetlip, we are also seeing small-mouth nannygai, legal red emperor, spangled emperor and trevally species showing up at various times where you would not necessarily expect to find them.

In saying this though, the deeper waters are fishing exceptionally well for large-mouth nannygai, emperor, cobia and trevally species as well.

It’s good to know that there is a decent spread of fish around no matter the depth you are fishing. If the wind is up and you need to fish in shallower protected waters you need not worry too much because the fish will be there too.

On the reef fishing front one notable point out of the ordinary has been a spike in Chinaman fish catches. We are not talking about a few here and there, but dozens at a time and big sizes to 10kg as well.

These fish have been on the protected species list for a while, now it appears we have plague proportions of them. Once they muscle in on a fishing spot you have no chance in the world of landing any other targeted species.

From an angling point of view you’ll find no harder fighting fish and they are excellent fun but they have been frustrating if you are looking for a feed of fish.

We’ll keep an eye on the influx of Chinaman, but the massive spike in numbers just simply came out of the blue and caught even the most experienced anglers in the industry by surprise.

It’s good to see the Spanish mackerel numbers are now consistent. They are one of the tropic’s favourite fish to catch not just for their angling but because of their excellent eating qualities.

Spaniards are readily caught on a float using a pilchard, or even better, a live fusilier. At this time of year a live fusilier will not last five minutes back in the water if a Spanish is lurking within a few hundred metres.

Those who enjoy their trolling are having good success with the Laser Pro lures and the old faithful wog head with a rigged gar. The wog head rigs are now available with a bit of weight to get the garfish deeper are accounting for some thumping mackerel in recent times.

When the reels are ignited on those deep wog heads being smashed you can guarantee there will also be a big bend in the rod as well. That’s light tackle fishing at its best when a big mackerel goes for a serious gallop across the surface peeling line at will.

If the calm waters are more your treat there’s still plenty to be achieved up our local rivers and creeks. There is plenty of bream, juvenile batfish, estuary cod, grunter, sicklefish and flathead to target and they are all partial to a fresh dead bait such as squid, prawn or fish flesh.

With freshly obtained live baits some decent jacks might be tempted from the snags, or they might attract the attention of queenfish and trevally in the deeper channels. Those big 1m queenfish that head through the entrances on our bigger systems on an incoming tide during the winter months are definitely around at the moment and are a fish of a lifetime to catch.

Along the beaches on those beautiful calm days there are some good dart, trevally, whiting and flathead to play with using light gear. Peeled prawn on a light running sinker rig is dynamite and you’ll fill in hours of enjoyment and come back with a nice little feed. This type of fishing along the beach is a great introduction to the sport for kids and a healthy way to wet a line.

All in all, the days up in the tropics are mostly idyllic and thus we see thousands of visitors take advantage of our wonderful climate and many wet a line as well. Escape the cold clutches from down south and come and join us.

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