The fishing both in the estuaries and offshore has been producing quality fish all year.
Reefies have continued to chew at virtually all of the grounds from The Keppels to the shoals and up the coast. Grunter and large-mouth nannygai are being caught in as close as Findlays and the spots heading north to Manifold and south to the Cape Capricorn grounds. Red emperor have mostly moved into the deeper waters with the best fish caught in the 40-60m fern country at present.
Other reefies on the menu are parrot, red throat, cod, rosy jobfish and trout. Spotties, doggies and Spanish will be around whenever the conditions allow us to get out and inside the bay on the cleaner days.
We still appear to be getting the remnants of the mid year fish including whiting and bream, which are usually at their best in the cool. Blue and king salmon are both available in many of the local creeks with the majority of blues in the cleaner water, while the kings prefer dirty water as a rule.
Fingermark are picking up, particularly around the deeper headlands and creek mouths where trolling lures at the right depth has done the trick. Try to get a lure that just touches bottom and clangs off the rocks occasionally.
Mangrove jack started a bit slow until the weather conditions warmed and now the Causeway Lake is having one of the best seasons for years. All the systems are holding lots of flathead with the majority of bigger fish hanging in the deeper channels adjacent to smaller gutters.
Muddies are plentiful, although there are quite a few floaters between the full crabs so check them because it is a waste of time taking an empty crab.
Queenfish have remained in fine form around the islands and it makes for a great day out to spend the day walking Keppels beaches with a light rod and a couple of plastics.
The exceptional local barramundi season has run from opening right through winter and now at the end of the year some records have been set.
The Rockhampton Barra Bounty saw about 1200 fish tagged over the two sessions fished. In some previous years we were lucky if a few hundred tags were used. The professionals also had a bumper year and many rec fishers not only broke their barra virginity but put together tallies anyone would be proud of, especially considering that the majority of the fish caught were released.
Apart from the dramas in Gladstone that hopefully never reach The Fitzroy, there are a lot of positives to end the year with. The future right down the Queensland Coast looks very bright indeed.
Having done stacks of trips to the top end I always thought I would be dreaming if we ever approached the sheer quantity of barras that they see year in year out. This year we did, so why would you pass Queensland to travel that much further when we have some of the best wild fish and impoundment fishing anywhere in the world?
I get emails every day asking for spots in the creeks and the river. All it really takes to find good spots of your own is to watch your sounder and fish any decent features.
The deeper into structure you can get your lure or bait the better the chance of getting the best fish and even though you may lose a bit of gear a big barra or cracker jack is well worth the cost of a lure.
A couple of mates and I did a trip last month just up the coast from here to explore new territory and see how hard it would be to hit an area blind with no local knowledge at all.
I figured the first day would be spent sussing the tides and places not to get stuck, as the tides could be up to 5m high and 0.1m low. We left the ramp before low and kept an eye on the sounder to find any workable country, especially around holes in back eddies and corners where there would still be plenty of water as most of the area dries up.
Not sure what to expect we took lures and cast nets to cover all bases. Visible structures anywhere are the best starting spot and when they are adjacent to a creek mouth or a deep hole then your chances of success look even better, so that’s what we targeted.
Second cast into a stand of sticks in just under 1m of water produced a rat barra 600mm with another couple following him out of the trees for a look. Prospects were getting better all the time as the first half dozen all got sent back to grow a bit more and a pair of solid fish were kept for dinner that night. By this stage we had covered approximately 5km, landed 30 odd fish and marked a lot of spots that would work at different stages in the tide.
The next day was a glass off morning so we travelled out to some of the closer islands to chase reefies. It was the summer equinox and conditions were perfect with a light 5knot southeasterly but despite best efforts only a few average reefies came home.
My mother in-law told us after the trip that the old pros reckon it is a waste of time fishing on the equinox. Whether this is an old wives tale or not, after going through my old fishing diaries I realised we never ever scored well on the equinox.
The next day was barras, fingermark and a distinct lack of jack. We cast at every feature and finally a pattern emerged: all the good country facing the open ocean or bigger bays produced the most fish. The water was so clear that all lure takes down to 3m were visible.
As Jonesy says a big barramundi taking a lure is like hitting a brick with your lawn mower, made even better by watching the big buggers come out of the trees to nail our Richos.
On the run in tide we needed a change of tactics so out came the mid divers and a bit of trolling to check out the channels. We discovered a rubble looking bottom beside a long mud bank with a couple of small gutters discharging into the main creek which looked like prime fingermark territory. We trolled back again for another pass when both lures were slammed and both yielded quality fingermark. The tide picked up and the fish shutdown in the channel so we went back to the snags again.
Idling along the mangrove edges we could see one decent fish at each tree. They looked like jacks down in the shadows in hard to get to spots, but they turned out to be big very aggressive black bream. I tried some small lures with no takers before putting my favourite barra lure hard into cover for a result at last. These big pikey bream go like jack for the first few seconds trying to get back into the maze of roots.
The next day turned out to be much the same. We caught well over 100 barramundi, a swag of fingermark, dozens of big bream, huge flathead, grunter, queenfish, blue and king salmon before leaving secret spot Z.
We obviously lucked into an area that has no real fishing pressure, we had no idea how or where to fish but using basic knowledge we found spots that will never be forgotten.
We only fish with barbless hooked lures so all released fish come off the hooks easily and out of the few fish we dropped this trip not one was due to coming off the barbless hooksReads: 1525