Cold southwesterly winds have produced plenty of chances for anglers to fish the calm inshore waters at the Inner and Outer Bowen mackerel patches. The bitterly cold conditions have seen water temps drop dramatically in the north this year making it ideal for a big run of these pelagic speedsters.
While many mackerel have been taken off the bottom on baits there have been some red hot sessions where the doggie, spotted and grey mackerel have been feeding high in the water column. These fish have been clearly visible darting along the surface making for great sight casting fishing opportunities. Averaging between 2-6kg, these fish are excellent targets for fly and light game surface fishers.
Anything small, chrome or white retrieved at speed seems to be doing the most mackerel damage. White bucktail jigs are the standout lure for those working the surface, while heavy chrome jigs that get to the bottom quickly have been proving deadly for the vertical jiggers. Fishing as light as possible, especially in terms of leader material, has seen the best hook ups.
The mackerel patches are not the only place to snare a big mack in Bowen, many of the inner and outer islands and man-made structures hold excellent fish. The bigger Spaniards have also been on the chew and August is renowned for really big trophy fish with plenty of 30kg+ on offer. The is because these fish have had a couple of solid months feeding heavily on the smaller mackerel, ribbons and reefies making them very fat and very large.
By August, big Spaniards will be spread throughout most of the bay to right out to the reef; anywhere which is capable of holding bait is a likely spot for a big Spannoes. Current affected corners of Middle and Glouster islands are good places to start, and further out around Nares Rock and Holbourne Island the macks should be thick. If you are after that big fish then head out down through the Glouster passage to around the Double Cone islands. This spot consistently produces 35kg+ Spanish every year in August and much of this can be attributed to its deep water and huge currents and eddies that these big lone fish just love to prowl.
Pelagics are not the only fish on the chew out wide; trout, sweetlip and big tuskfish will also be on the bite around Bowen’s many islands and inshore reefs. Typically the inshore shoal areas like Cheyabassa Reef just off Thomas Island and Bradys Reef off Glouster Island are excellent spots this time of year for a big trout. Fishing big slab baits of stripeys and hussar is the key, but make sure when you slab these baits that you leave the tails and wings on as many locals believe this is what attracts the fish to the bait.
For big tuskfish, crabs are the gun bait. Throwing a red claw pot in the mangroves a day before should provide you with all the little box-head shaped blue nippered crabs these fish just love to eat. Plastics, like a split tail or 6” grub, have also been snaring plenty of these big blue beasts as well.
In the creeks, the big black or pike bream will be running hard and by this stage of the year many of these fish will be up around the 1kg mark. These fish make for great sport on light line and don’t be surprised if they punch well above their weight. Much like their red cousins the jack, these fish live right in tight around structure and will do their best to brick you so draw them out with numerous casts in the same area is the best option.
August is also worth a crab in the many creeks around Bowen and is typically the last month to target these tasty crustaceans before they mysteriously disappear. Trying to get a feed of muddies in Bowen after August is harder than finding gold as most of the bigger crabs seem to become extremely rare with pots either containing small bucks or big jenny crabs. So if you are after your fill then you had better get in while they are still around. Spots north of the Don like Meatworks Creek and Boat Creek will usually hold good numbers of rusty bucks this time of the year.
Next month is the infamous Bowen Fish Classic and, in my humble opinion, one of the best fishing competitions in Australia. Not only is it a great fishing event but a great family event as well. It always attracts people from all over and if you have never been to Bowen then this is a great time to come and visit and see for yourself why we have some of the best fishing on the east coast of Australia.
With plenty of awesome prizes including some great boats and fishing gear this is not an event to be missed.
Typically September is one of the best months weather wise to fish the waters around Bowen as it offers a good mix of both pelagic and creek fishing opportunities.
It is also a great month to begin targeting the barra and jacks as the water begins to warm up. This means getting those bait casters and trebles ready for when the barra and jacks come back on the boil. These fish will begin to bite in spurts during September so finding the time to fish periods of warmer weather is the key.
Sharp trebles are certainly a must for this time of year as the fish can tend to be very tentative and not bite with as much gusto as they do in the more warmer months.Reads: 1999