Popper Crunching New Year
  |  First Published: December 2011

As my popper gets crunched for the 50th time and a metre of flying queenfish takes to the air... it’s a happy new year in Lucinda.

The beginning of another year and how exciting it is as last year was a cracker and 2012 should be even better. At this time of year the computer stays on constantly with the bureau of meteorology (BOM) website only a click away. January really should see the beginning of our wet season, throw in the odd cyclone or three and it is an exciting time to live in the tropics.

Hinchinbrook Channel

Although a little hard to predict during the wet season the channel should be fishing well. It may just be harder to find the fish due to the amount of fresh (dirty water) being flushed out. This may mean travelling further up the channel to escape this brown water. The positive side is that once you have found some good water and fish, then that area should continue to fish well.

Around this time of year Benjamin Flats is a great place to explore as it will offer good water and should have fish piled up in the many holes and creek junctions. Fishing the junctions of the creeks where several creeks meet up is a great hot spot to fish some baits. Normally these areas have deeper water and offer a holding spot for larger fish to wait the tide and hunt food.

The old boat passage offers some deep water and it is in these holes that fishing some live baits should see you hooked up to the mighty threadfin salmon or a few tasty fingermark bream. Live herring would be the best bait for both these species.

A little patience may be required as the threadfin will normally make their way down or up the creeks feeding. Action can come on fast with double and triple hook-ups common and then the fish are gone as they are now further up or down from your location.

A tip when using live baits is to try using fine gauge hooks to allow for a natural presentation. Herring and prawns cannot swim freely with a heavy hook weighing them down. Mullet are stronger and more durable and it is not as necessary. Give these fine gauge hooks a go and you will see your bite rate improve. Spending the extra few dollars on quality hooks will also mean more peace of mind when hooked up.

A warning to anybody travelling at night or in low light conditions: with flood water comes the many various floating hazards. There will be no shortage of logs on top of the water, but it is the logs floating under the surface that are a major concern. Hit at speed these hazards can cause massive damage to the boat and serious injury to those inside.

This debris will be found right out into the boat passage and closer reefs. If you must travel at night, slow down, be vigilant and use spotlights or at least powerful torches.

On the other hand a big floating log out in some clearer water is a great FAD and always worth lobbing some poppers. Last year a big floating log pile provided me with hours of entertainment with GTs stacked up underneath it.

Reefs and Islands

Fishing the bommies at first light is very rewarding with lots of trout on offer. The humble old pilchard with a ball sinker running straight to the hook is a good starting point. Use your sounder, and your eyes if visibility is good, and aim to have your bait slowly sinking down the side of the bommie and hang on.

People new to plastic fishing should do exactly the same thing they normally do when bait fishing but instead of a sinker your jighead will get the plastic to the bottom. Once the plastic has hit the bottom it’ as simple as lifting the rod tip to give the plastic some action. Soft baits such as Berkley Gulps can be dropped to the bottom, wound about a meter off the bottom and then the rod is left in the rod holder as the natural rocking of the boat will move the plastic. Gulps also have the benefit of being covered in fish attracting liquid.

There will be a select few boats targeting the small black marlin that should be hanging around the bait schools. Hanging some skirted lures or a bait rigged for trolling while you move from spot to spot has seen some very surprised faces and bent rods over the years from marlin, sailfish and XXL tuna.

Large-mouth nannygai are currently being caught in good numbers and sizes, let’s hope they continue into the new year. The odd rock towards the reef or if you can find some 'wonky' holes should see you into the action. Nannygai respond well to plastics and even jigs so it is always worth an exploratory drop.

Anybody fishing the reefs or deeper water and doesn't have a suitable device for deflating swim bladders to aid in release of large or unwanted fish should acquire one. Done correctly survival rates of fish is great, so it should be practised more often. Nothing is more depressing then seeing a large fish floating in the current with there swim bladder still inflated.

Happy new year to all, lets hope 2012 is full of great times on and off the water. For all those wanting to brave the elements and risk the floods Lucinda should be going off with a bang. Keen...mad keen.

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