I hope your New Year was a happy one and that your rod tips bent towards the water more often than not.
It’s now the time of year up here where almost anything goes, from days of stinking hot conditions, aka the doldrums, to weeks of pouring rain and the odd windy day or two. Whatever happens don’t let the weather bother you too much.
Those of you on holidays up here need not worry about cyclones. The little ones are easily rode out in your motel rooms and in the rare event of another Yasi, there will certainly be plenty of notice to vacate the region. But a cyclone like Yasi seems a little unlikely this year with the La Niña weather pattern breaking down. The recent months have seen very dry conditions so far, which is a far cry from last year.
Fishing in the previous month has been a little restricted for the small boat angler with some stiff northerlies making things a bit bumpy and many have been confined to the inshore estuaries.
However, these anglers have been rewarded with the odd run of good grunter. Although they probably haven’t been as good as previous years they have still been around in reasonable numbers. Since cyclone Yasi, the seabed has been very disrupted and may have filled in some of the grunter’s traditional foraging grounds; it may pay to go hunting a little more in search of areas yet to be uncovered.
Fingermark have been reasonably active and anglers have been trying their luck at night around the northern headlands and islands with live squid and herring. Some fish have been up around 7-8kg but most are school sized at around 3kg. Other places to try would be the deep holes in the channel and Missionary Bay rivers.
I have been targeting fingermark in the daylight hours with soft plastics on secret little shoals in Halifax Bay and believe me, it’s worth having a go if you can find those little purple patches. Bozos mullets have been popular as well as Berkley Gulps, and during daylight hours we have been rewarded with some great bar-cheek trout too.
Reef reports in the recent months have been a bit patchy; some crews have found the reds fishing well at night and very slow in the day, but that’s not too unusual during the northerlies.
Offshore around the reefs in the next month concentrate on looking for deep shoals between the reefs, as the shallows do get a little quiet when the water warms up. These deeper waters at this time of year can throw a few welcome surprises such as big tuskfish, longnose emperor, and big reef jacks during the twilight hours.
They are all outstanding table fish and the traditional baits of squid, pillies and mullet should entice them, but if you get the chance to take some live baits out with you, even better.
Spanish mackerel reports have been a little patchy but soon they normally disperse until around May or June when they start their season off inshore around the islands.
There were not many billfish reports coming from inside the reef in 2011, with a very distinct lack of bait. But they may show up in better numbers into the new year, as many species and seasons have been running a bit later than usual. Just blame it on Yasi like everything else, I suppose.
For those of you keen to come up for this years’ barra season, start planning soon as all my best dates will slowly soak up. To contact us check out our new website at www.hookedonhinchinbrook.com.Reads: 1973