November saw the temperatures soar and the estuary fishing has been red hot. Those who have are into mangrove jack will be in for a great time, but make sure you get in before the wet season starts again. December last year was a shocker and with the weather bureau forecasting a wet summer now is the time to get your estuary fix.
What usually happens in the river this month is the baitfish move up stream and the town reach is where it all happens. Toft Rocks will be worth a try for jacks, cod, bream and grunter with live baits being the pick if you’re not using lures. For the lure fisho Splitters should be worth a try around the last of the outgoing tide for jacks and cod. My lure choices would be a Cultiva Zipping Ziggy for the surface, a Prawnstar for sinking into the snags and a Tilsan Barra for a hardbody.
The Zipping Ziggy is a surface lure that glides along the surface imitating a wounded fish and when retrieved slowly with a bit of rod work will walk from side to side and the jacks love it.
The Prawnstar is still a sensational all round lure and they account for more of my jacks than any other lure. Just cast them in, let them sink and slowly wind them out with a few gentle lifts and drops; it’ll drive the fish mad.
When it comes to working a Tilsan use the old funky chicken method; cast it in tight to the snags and wind it back slowly while jerking the rod tip down as you wind and pause. This gets the lure to dance around, which attracts the fish - a lot of the time the fish eat it on the pause. There are a lot of other lures and techniques that work and that’s the beauty of fishing. Every time you get on the water there’s something new to learn.
The Elliott River will continue to fish well throughout December with a few nice grunter being caught up river. There has still been some nice flathead being caught with a mate of mine, swearing by the Berkley 3” shrimp in the new penny colour. As he says everything eats this plastic and as long as you keep it on the bottom the flathead will find it. There has also been some big jacks being caught around Sharks Nest and in the upper reaches, which have taken both baits and lures.
Tarpon have been showing up in most systems and are great fun on light gear, however be sure to use sharp hooks because they have very hard mouths. They do love chasing poppers and take to the air once hooked. Tarpon aren’t really a species to eat as they are part of the herring family and are full of bones, so enjoy the fight and release them unharmed.
Woodgate will start to get very crowded over Christmas because it’s a fantastic destination for the family. Don’t be too worried if you’re a mad angler though - there are plenty of options with options offshore and plenty of creeks to explore. Theodolite Creek gets plenty of attention over the break but it’s usually at high tide so if you have a kayak or small craft the creek is all yours come low tide. You can also explore around the Burrum River system fishing the abundance of rock bars and deep holes - it would take a life time to fish it all.
I managed to sneak up the Baffle a few times of late and the fishing was outstanding. Of course my main target is the mangrove jack and they were out in force chasing down all sorts of lures and plastics. I stayed at Baffle Creek Caravan Park for a few days with the family in November and had a very relaxing time – I even managed a fish with Roger the new owner. We headed up the top of the river and found some new sand bars courtesy of the last floods. My goal was to get Roger his first jack on a surface lure and we only had to wait half an hour. We went on to catch around 15 more jacks for the morning on surface lures with at least two double hook ups. We landed most fish, however a couple of really big fish were just too big and too fast.
Roger was using a walk the dog style popper and I was using a small cupped faced popper, both catching plenty of fish. It was more about where you cast than your style of retrieve that day.
I also dragged a good mate of mine Nigel Webster along for a day on the jacks and brought along camera man Ben Godfrey to capture a bit of surface jack action. The day went really well, which isn’t too common when a camera is present. We caught jacks on surface lures and managed to catch around 15 strikes on camera. We were filming for an upcoming segment on the Sportfish DVD, which should be out early next year. If you love your jack fishing you are in for a treat, and if you are looking for the real thing, the might Baffle is the place to go.
Enjoy your Christmas break and have fun out on the water.Reads: 1984