It’s finally time for the return of the singlet and shorts for us northerners with the long and harsh winter well and truly gone. Luckily for anglers the change of clothing often brings some serious carnage in the creeks and estuaries.
Water temps are beginning to climb consistently back above 20c, which means lure anglers will begin to see some great barra and jack action. With three bumper wet seasons under our belts, this month will be a prime time for a hot barra bite, especially if early reports are anything to go by.
The Elliot River just north of Bowen has been the pick of the systems for fishing. This shallow sandy stretch of river has been a consistent barra producer in early spring especially for those flicking lightly weighted 2-4” softies, and small to medium deep diving hard bodies.
Many of the other systems a little further south like Boat Creek have been producing plenty of rat sized fish, which is nothing unusual for this time of the year. These smaller fish are usually a year or so old and are beginning to feed ferociously. It is often a case of working through the smaller fish to find the bigger specimens. This can be a little frustrating as they tend to hang out together. Upsizing lures can sometimes work however it is not uncommon for 30cm fish to pounce on larger 8” lures.
Large live baits like mullet will prove to be a better option on the larger fish and finding a good stretch of deep bank with plenty of snags will see some big silver scales gracing the boat. The run out tide is always a great time to target barra and concentrating efforts around this time is always ideal for both lures and bait.
The creeks to the south of Bowen like Yates, Duck and Billys Creek are renowned for their barra fishing as they are generally deeper, dirtier and snaggier than the northern Bowen Creeks. A quick run across Sinclair Bay on a calm day can see access to all these systems, though like all creeks in Bowen they require about 1.6m of water to get in and out. It is always a good idea to pick a tide where you can get in early and then back out later in the afternoon. With only a month left before the close of the season it is certainly worth the effort, especially if you get onto a hot bite.
My favourite form of fishing for barra in October is on the surface, especially around times of low light. Soft plastic frogs rigged weedless on jungle hooks are a great option in October, especially when the barra begin boofing on the surface. Getting that rod tip at the right angle and working the frog back at a steady pace should see the a big predator following closely behind. Just make sure you bring a spare set of underpants - when they hit it will send shivers down your spine!
The other fish that becomes more ferocious in October is the mangrove jack. These red devils seem to feed a little higher in the water column as the temperatures rise. Stabile and clear water means suspending lures like Rapalas and Yo-Zuri Crystal minnows are a quality option.
For many lure anglers it will be a nice change to go back to targeting these fish on hard bodies as they tend to be better targeted on softies through the cooler months. The old faithful bomber lure will be a good option as well as the range of shallow Reidys lures. Jack fishing in October is great, with stormy afternoons proving to be red hot bite times for these fish.
If you are after a crab then October is not the months to bring your pots to Bowen. It will be easier to land a metre barra on a whiting rod then find a legal buck. September to December is a real down time for crabs with pots usually full of big jennies or small bucks with legal crabs often being big floaters.
Out on the blue water, October is a top time to chase a few tuna throughout the bay and surrounding islands - long tails being the pick of choice. If it is a tastier option you are after, the offshore and inshore reef fishing should see plenty of good sized coral trout on offer. The outer reef has been pretty quiet this year after Cyclone Yasi however things have started to pick up and the excellent trout bite should return as we move closer into summer.
Around the islands like Middle, Glouster and Holbourne soft plastic fishing is one very underrated form of fishing for coral trout. I’d hate to say this but we could learn a thing or two from the southern snapper fishos in this department - it is one deadly way to snare a few trout. Large worm like softies like 6” grubs, squidgy flick baits and even the oversized Bozo softies always seem to prove dynamite on northern reefies. Slow winds and jigs over the shallow coral shelfs into deep water is always a top idea. If the reefies don’t play the game you can always bet on a GT or queenfish hanging out a little deeper ready to inhale your offering. Don’t just bring your creek softy outfit as you will need something a little more substantial, especially if you find yourself connected to a thick shouldered trout or even worse a big black spot tusky.
Next month should see the creek fishing increase; even though the no take season for barra will have begun there will still be some excellent catch and release up for offer. Lure fishos are urged to not specifically target barra as this is their peak breeding and spawning time. One lost fish could prove costly for future generations. If you do manage to hook one please keep it in the water at all times as this guarantees a successful release.
November means afternoon storms, humid weather and awesome jack fishing. Keen jack anglers need to pick their time and tides if they want to feel the sensation of what is a red hot jack attack.Reads: 2002