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Play nice, Nannies
  |  First Published: September 2011



We are in the middle of one of the best nannygai seasons for ages with more fish in more widespread areas, giving most offshore fishers the opportunity to nail a couple.

Unlike the other red species in our region such as emperor, which range out to great depths, the nannygai (also known as red jew, scarlet sea perch, saddletail sea perch) stick close to shore. However, the closer to the boat ramp the smaller the nannies.

Our better captures are usually in 20-40m in rubble type country with bits of structure and fern. Though we use a paternoster for most of the big red fishes there is a difference from the standard red emperor rig that has the bottom hook almost on the sinker, as nannies will rise higher off the bottom and we get more decent fish around 40-50cm.

They also like big fresh baits such as iodine bream or hussar slabs or even the wings, while frozen stiff pillies and squid in good nick are fine backups. Nannies respond very well to berley and like fishing for reds we often put a crushed pilchard as a sacrificial berley bait on the top hook.

There are a multitude of spots that work well starting from just off Cape Capricorn through to Liza Jane, Findlays, The Pinnacles, local wrecks like The Rama, Manifold and just about any of the local sea grunter spots. More fish get taken in the evening than during the day except for the wider part of their range.

September is one of our best months for the lesser mackerels including doggies, greys and spotted. Keppel Bay is a different make up to many of the mackerel areas along the Queensland coast and weather can foul the water very quick and along with the river discharge the fish can leave just as quickly as they arrive. The clearer the water in the bay, the more greys and doggie mackerel that come in to play. Spotted mackerel tolerate much worse conditions and often haunt the dirty water eddies and current lines running around the islands and headlands.

Few days of light winds can change the outlook greatly and the schools of mackerel and bait appear in droves out of nowhere. It doesn’t take long for the word to get out once the fish move in, the small tinnies congregate around all the headlands and the land-based crew crowd the outside harbour walls as the sun comes up.

The two most popular methods around here are the floating pillie with minor variations and Flasha lures. Simple variations on the floating pillie are adding small sinkers as the current picks up on pieces of red or glow tube above the gang hooks. These little differences can mean fish or no fish so when they are quiet try things that may turn them on.

Throwing chromies again varies with the current and other boats working the same patch. Cast as far as you can and let your lure sink until almost on the bottom and then wind as fast as you can back in. If this fails after a few attempts try to jig or change the speeds until you hit the right chord that suits the fish.

Quartz Rock, Findlays Reef, Forty Acre Paddock, Farnborough Reef, Rita Mada, Claytons and just about any of the Islands out from Emu Park are all great spots for the tinnie fishers while Rosslyn Bay Harbour wall is the standout for the shories. Make sure you measure the small mackerel because the first few runs produce a very large number of undersize fish between the bigger stuff.

Spanish mackerel have slowed somewhat with mainly the residents and the odd passing school to keep the mack hunters busy. The wider islands, Manifold, Liza Jane, Flat and Perforated are the better options for this time of year. Bigger tides with a high before lunch are the optimum Spanish mackerel times and definitely produce way more fish on average.

Bonito have started passing through once more so take time out from chasing mackerel to score a few bunnies for trolling and even large live baits, Spanish love them. Other top baits are ribbonfish or wolfies, iodine bream, crimson fusiliers, rainbow runners and the old humble pilchard.

Rainbow runners have begun schooling around various spots around the Keppels so we stop on the way out to grab a bundle for live baits for Spannoes and trout. Any left over livies get rigged on gangs before freezing making them quick easy baits on future trips.

Central Queensland’s estuaries have continued in fairly good form right through winter and into the transitional period before summer. Whiting, bream, salmon, grunter and flathead have been everywhere lately in decent quantities. Flathead particularly have moved into the estuary mouths where most shallow structure eddies and features are holding fish.

The bigger fish should be lying in the deeper channel edges adjacent to the sand bars rocks while the smaller fish use lots more territory moving in and out with the tides. The super clear water at present generally means that neutral colours are outshining the fluoros, however flathead will smash anything placed within close proximity.

Recently I went crabbing with a local pro and the one thing I took away from it was that whiting catches everything. The two pots that had the most crabs were the pots full of whiting frames.

After watching the snapper boys down south use whiting for snapper baits I tried whiting frames for red fish. Results so far are proving the effort of keeping frames was well worth it with reds, nannies, trout and cod coming into the esky. The only trouble is getting enough frames consistently.

The huge quantities of barramundi in the area this year have started to chew again with the onset of a little warmer weather. Many of the fish taken at present were just under size prior to Christmas and now have reached 58cm or better and are prime for the table. They are spread the whole length of the salt end of the Fitzroy and the other local systems.

The mornings are still a bit chilly for any serious action but as the day warms into early afternoon there have been some impressive sessions starting to happen. The area around town between the bridges and the barrage is hard to beat normally, especially for the new comers to the river. Either use lures or live baits depending on your style. We use lure mostly because we can cover a much larger part of the territory over a session and sometimes live bait is very hard to come by in the top end of the river.

The Rocky Barra Bounty is here again on the 22-23 September 2011 and there are still a few places left. This is a tag and release only event so that the impact on the local fishery is kept to a minimum. All proceeds go to stocking the area with barramundi fingerlings for the future. Although barramundi are the prime target there is also a combined other species section.

To win any of the major prizes all you have to do is enter and be there for the prize draws. The prestige of competing in one of the country’s premier fishing tournaments is just the added incentive. If you would like to enter you can get all the details on the internet at www.rockybarrabounty.com.

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