Whether it’s up the creek snag bashing for jacks or out on the blue water bombie dropping for coral trout, successfully fishing the waters of Bowen in January is all about picking your moments and fishing those peak periods when the bite is best and conditions are bearable.
While January traditionally marks the beginning of the wet, this is not the only variable that can affect the fishing. The sun can also be a major factor and in the warmer months of summer, fishing the middle of the day is best avoided, as the extreme heat will often shut down the bite.
Anglers are best to fish either early mornings or late afternoons especially around times of low light, particularly when this coincides within a couple of hours of either the run-in or run-out tide. Not only is it a little easier on the anglers, the fish also tend to be more active during these cooler periods as they often sulk during the warmer middle part of the day.
This is particularly the case up the creeks where the extra heat in the water can shut down the bite. The majority of Bowen’s creeks average 6ft or less water, which allows for some pretty warm water temps when in direct sun.
If you do find yourself on the water at these times, try focusing either lures or bait around areas affected by shadow or shade where the water temp may be a little cooler. Fish will often seek out these areas in the middle of the day and a well presented offering will draw out a bite more often than not.
Mangrove jacks will be the main target species in January as the barra will still be off limits. Hardbody shallow running minnows like Rapala X-Raps and Bombers will feature the best amongst the snags especially when the tide height allows for these lures to be worked just above the structure.
Poppers and stick baits are also ideal offerings around structure especially during early mornings and late afternoons. Jacks are quite aggressive fish and a lure that can create a bit of noise can often stir the fish from deep in the snags and bring out an impulse bite.
The biggest problem lure fishers face in January is avoiding barramundi, which are usually around in numbers this time of the year. With two months of protection under their belts they tend to be pretty common and can even be a bit of a plague when chasing jacks.
The best way to avoid the barra is to scale down lure size to something around 8cm; the smaller version Bomber, X-Raps and Reidys Little Lucifer will do the trick nicely. While this won’t totally avoid the barra, it will cut down on accidental captures of the bigger female breeders barra.
All creeks around Bowen will hold excellent jacks with Duck Creek to the south of Bowen and Boat creek to the north being the easiest to fish though far enough out of the way to see lots of fishing pressure.
Land-based fishers can also make the most of the jacks and the Bowen Boat Harbour is a gold mine for some big thumpers over the 50cm mark. Night fishing is your best option and unweighted fresh herring drifted down amongst the pylons and anchored boats will be the best technique.
Unweighted plastics such as Berkley Crazy Legs and Atomic Prongs worked very slowly will also work very well in this spot. The quality of fish pulled out of this spot never ceases to amaze and it certainly holds some trophy fish for those without a boat. Going light will bring on the best bites, though with lots of structure to contend with at this spot it’s important to find a happy medium.
January is also a favourite month for anglers to chase some tasty reef fish around Bowen’s many islands. The warmer months tend to bring fish like coral trout and sweetlip up into the shallows which see many of the closer inshore reefs like Southern Cross, North Head and Murrays Bay reef fire up. These reefs are easily accessible by a small tinnie and offer plenty of bombies to fish.
Fishing smart is the key to a successful trip on these inshore spots and using a combination of fresh herring and mullet amongst an oily berley mixture of pilchard and squid will bring fish to the boat. If you don’t get bites on one bombie move to the next until you find which bombies are holding the fish.
Finding these bombies is quite easy and they are easily spotted during a trip at the bottom of the tide, then just mark them with a GPS for later use. Like the creeks, targeting these spots around early mornings and late afternoons is the best method and night missions are also excellent as they bring out other species such as nannygai and fingermark.
More run equals more fun on these spots. The biggest factor to fishing successfully is to make sure baits are sitting at the pressure point side of bombies, as this is where both bait fish and predatory fish sit. Find where the tide is pushing in on the bombies and anchor up in front of this spot, so baits can be fed back into the structure.
Next month brings back the barra and like most anglers, I just can’t wait. February usually sees plenty of rain, this means run-off fishing, which is conducive to some big barra, captures. With three big wet seasons under our belt we have had some big barra seasons and this year should be no different.
The huge number of small rat fish caught throughout the closed season is proof enough that numbers will be good; and with three months of protection to breed and grow the quality should also be outstanding.Reads: 2833