This time last year we were all walking around with life jackets on as Mother Nature threw everything at us. So far it has been a very dry start to the wet season and I can’t help but feel that maybe it is all going to happen with a bang this year.
The fishing has been pretty consistent for the last few months, with most people coming back with a nice feed and a few stories of big fish lost or put back to fight again another day. But let’s look at what February has to offer in Lucinda.
February 1 will mean that the mighty barra is back on the cards, the amount of small barra that were eating everything dangled in the water over the last few months is a great sign for the next few years. Just going fishing for grunter or jacks with smelly old dead bait still had barra smashing it in the last few months.
Your best bet for putting a few barra in the boat is to target the mud banks and, specifically, the big drains that pour out dirty water and flush bait out from the mangroves. Holding off these areas and throwing bombers and shallow diving lures right up into the shallows and working them back will see you hooked up.
These drains also provide a net full of live bait in the cast net. I like to throw some lures in these drains hopefully extracting a couple of fish then gathering some fresh bait. Start fishing these areas when the tide is about half way down, meaning the fish are pushed out from the mangroves.
If bait fishing is more your thing then simply find a creek mouth or a creek junction around the bottom of the tide, and set some live mullet, prawns or herring for the start of the run-in tide. Barra will move back up creeks with the tide, so be in the area where barra will have to move past as they re-enter the creek. Once you have worked this method out you’re catch rate will improve dramatically. This method is also deadly on threadfin and blue salmon that also follow the same feeding patterns.
If you’re after a trophy fish then find some deeper water and be patient with some large live baits and troll in about 6-10m. These techniques can see you hooked up to all types of big fish from big barra and threadfin to XXL GT and bucket-mouth cod. When chasing big fish always pack the camera and take care when handling them so they can swim away to fight another day.
Big tides during the summer months will create big current lines and lots of pressure points around the islands, which means there should be some good tuna and GT action. There has not been much in the way of bait schools the last few months so hopefully everything is just running a little bit late.
Heading across for the day and fishing some baits into the deeper bommies off the palms should see you with a few tasty reefies in the icebox. There are some nice spangled and grass emperor being caught at the moment and some large stripeys (a very under-rated tablefish).
The reef should be producing the goods, and finding some deeper water should see your catch rates improve. In the warmer water the fish seem to move off the shallower flats and take refuge in the deeper drop-offs. Again find the structure with the bait stacked on it and you should find the fish.
This time of the year will see more boats heading out at night to chase the big red emperor and nannygai that seem to prefer the cover of darkness when actively feeding. You will still catch them during the day but reports at the moment are tending towards a night attack to hook more fish. Just keep a good eye on the weather as those big storms can brew up very quickly.
On a personal note, I must thank Santa and, more to the point, my lovely partner as I have finally acquired my 6m Hooker centre console. I’m currently trying to work out how I can cut my nightly sleep down to around the 3 hour mark...why are there only 24 hrs in a day? If anyone else is interested in starting a new time zone where 48 hrs = a day then let me know.Reads: 910