‘Tis the season to be fishin’
  |  First Published: December 2011

Another year has nearly passed and looking back it has been a year full of bent rods and screaming drags.

This means plenty of smiles at the boat ramp, some ripper fishing yarns and plenty of pictures, add the fresh fish and seafood on the dinner table and it’s very easy to understand why we all enjoy fishing so much.

This year my main objective was to crack the magic metre barra mark. I have fallen short by less than 10cm oh so many times that I am starting to believe it may never happen. So hopefully 2012 is the year!

Santa has hopefully received all of our wish lists so next year we have plenty of new toys to play with. You really can’t have enough rods and reels or lures – I’m just wondering if my chimney is large enough to fit my new boat through.

Hinchinbrook Island

Fishing the channel will be greatly influenced by how much rain that we receive this month. Most of the rain will begin in the next few months but in the tropics you just never know.

Basically the channel will dirty up as it pushes out all the run off. The major river systems such as the Herbert and the Seymour will be flowing quickly meaning half of the channel is dark brown and very hard to fish.

During December two fish jump straight to mind: golden grunter and the mangrove jack. Fishing for both species can be done at the same time.

In the afternoon/evening secure some live baits such as herring, smaller mullet and prawns. Find a creek mouth or creek junction that has some tidal flow and also some structure. For grunter a lighter outfit and a trace rig using as lighter weight as possible to just hold bottom, a 3/0 hook and some fresh squid or prawn.

Cast this rig more out in the hole than at the snags. Leave in rod holder with some loose line or in free spool if using a bait feeder, as grunter should be allowed a little line before setting the hook. The jacks require an outfit with a bit more grunt using a running sinker rig, matched with a 4/0 hook baited with a livie.

Other great baits for jacks are a fillet of mullet, sardine or half a pillie. Fish for jacks by casting towards the snags and letting the current take it closer.

If you can get a hot humid night with a bit of moon for visibility then I suggest heading up the creeks with some surface lures. Be prepared for some adrenalin pumping fishing as the loud audible ‘snapping’ of a jack’s mouth as it pole drives your popper. Are you hands shaking yet?

If the weather allows it slipping out to the edges of the floodwater line (dirty meets clean) in places such as Sunken Reef or Zoe Bays or over around the edges of the sand flats towards the reef, can be a whole lot of fun.

The queenies and GTs seem to not enjoy the dirty water so they hold up in the clean water, ready to harass the bait schools that are being flushed out. Many hours can fly by as you drift around throwing poppers and slugs at big balls of hungry fish.

Last year in December the XXL queenfish were hanging in big schools and stayed in the same area for about a month, the best thing is that in that month apart from one other boat, I had them all to myself.

Remember that both queenies and GTs give all they have in the fight so a quick release is very important for their survival. And with any fish (especially large ones) supporting their weight while handling them for pictures is vital.

Reef and Islands

December can allow some great early morning reef sessions, again hard to predict but this time of year is normally influenced by NE winds that start to blow up around lunch time. This means that heading out before sunrise and finding some fish before the wind and the heat make life difficult.

Everything will be biting their fishy heads off, especially as the sun peaks over the horizon. Around the Palm Islands will also be fishing well for smaller nannygai and emperors.

There will be the odd mackerel still about, but the big schools of smaller fish will be harder to find. Spending the morning chasing tuna schools would have to be my favourite thing to do.

On light spin gear these speedsters really know how to test the smoothness of your drag. Throwing small metal slugs works well to nail some tuna, as most of the time these fish are feeding on very small baitfish and you need to match the hatch.

You can catch some very big tuna on small slugs, so be prepared when choosing your rod and reel. Filling your reel with braid is not a cheap thing to do and tuna can steal it all in a matter of seconds.


As much as I wanted to write my whole column on this issue, I refrained. Let’s just say it is Hinchinbrook’s turn to again ‘feed the beast’ and this time the powers that be want all of it to call their own.

I urge everyone to jump on the website www.derm.gov.com.au and submit your thoughts on the government’s proposals. You may even get a surprise and see that your own backyard may be one of the next areas on the ‘list’.

We need to come together and simply say NO: no compromises, no deals. How can anyone have the right to just take our home and livelihood away from us? How can we let them do it?

These big decisions are coming from over 1000km away by people in big buildings in the sky, and somehow they know best about our own backyard. Less than a year ago cyclone Yasi caused more damage in 6 hours then we could in our lifetimes.

I ask DERM to come find Hinchinbrook on the map (the place with the dart in it hanging on the DERM dartboard), and, yes, we do have aircon. Shake our hand and look us all in the eye and tell us they are taking away the very reason we moved here, work here and raise our families here.

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