Work Out for Winter
  |  First Published: July 2011

July should mean that it is hard to winch the boat back on the trailer after a day on the water slogging it out with the many pelagics attempting to rip your arms out of their sockets. Even though you’ll be reaching for a jumper early morning and after sunset, you’ll hook up in a big way during winter!

Hinchinbrook channel

Winter fishing in the estuaries means that your fishing tactics need to change a little to bring home a few fish. Well known fish such as the barra and jacks will be harder to come by as they both seem to hibernate and not eat as much or as actively. They are still there but to catch them you just need to pick your moments.

A good eye on the weather and tides is the main factor. A low tide in the afternoon when the water is at its warmest is the best time to get out and target a few barra. For your smaller specimens look at fishing shallow sunny mud banks and small drop-offs on the sand banks as these areas normally have warmer water and bait.

The cooler months are the best for targeting big trophy barra; these fish will be in deep holes in creeks and sitting deep off the many rocky points and holes scattered through the channel. Smart trolling with deep diving lures or patience and big live baits will see you hooked up to one of these big silver girls at some stage.

The bread and butter fish, such as the bream and the flathead, will be making up the majority of catches most days as these fish become very active when it is cold. Both these species are very nice on the table and flathead are up there with the best. Drifting along the edges of the big sand banks throwing lures and plastics over the drop-off into deeper water where the flathead lie, or using the same technique and drifting with live mullet should see you put a few in the boat. For bream, it is as easy as getting some fresh bait, finding some structure up the creeks and staying on the ball as they must take lessons from jacks on how to brick you ASAP.

Blue salmon schools are already starting to show so by July they should be about in good numbers. The best way to find blue salmon is to find a wide creek with good sand bars, quietly motor or drift up to these areas and look for fish swimming on the surface. Many people will overlook these schools as they mistake them for mullet.

Once a good school is found it is as easy as throwing any lure or bait close by – blue salmon have big eyes and not much goes by them.

Reefs and Islands

Mackerel are on everyone’s minds during the cooler months in the tropics and for good reason. They can scream drag off your reel at a quick rate of knots, they are caught using lots of different methods and are accessible to large and small boats.

They are also great to eat and a mackerel around the 10kg mark will feed you and the neighbours for quite awhile.

Around Pelorus Island and Hillock Point into Zoe Bay are two great spots to target mackerel for those in smaller boats. Look for any areas where the current runs stronger and creates big pressure points, trolling through and on the fringes of these areas with deep diving lures or cranking metal slices at speed should create some action. If you are seriously after mackerel then spend some time cast netting some big gar fish to rig and troll behind the boat.

Around this time of year I love to get out and throw poppers and plastics around the island reef edges for GT, queenfish and all sorts of reef dwellers. I highly recommend having a spin rod with a metal slug rigged up at all times when travelling to the islands or reef, as the many various tuna schools should be everywhere smashing through the bait schools. Some fresh tuna for the table or for bait is very hard to beat and, more importantly, the fun they provide on lighter spin gear is second to none. The first hit or bite you get will have you quickly forgetting it’s 4:30 in the morning and freezing cold.

Get out there and get amongst it!

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