Spot on fishing
  |  First Published: August 2012

August is the coldest month of the year in Bowen and this will significantly influence the fishing on offer. Early mornings are traditionally characterised by southwesterly winds that see sloppy conditions out wide until mid-morning when temps heat up and the water out wide will flatten out.

Keep this in mind if fishing this time of year as a later start is sometimes a better option, especially if you are like me and try to avoid fishing with any kind of a westerly influence.

August is the peak time for pelagic fishing in Bowen waters as the mackerel are more condensed and consistent on the bite, particularly in the areas from the Mackerel Patches to Abbot Point.

The quality of the pelagic fishing is the biggest draw card this time of year. All the mack species have had a couple of months to feed up on the vast bait schools that take up residence in waters just north of Bowen making them quite fat and ferociously hungry.

The most prolific mackerel species around in August will be the spotty mackerel and these toothy speedsters will be spread right through Bowen waters. Spotties will be thick around the Bowen Mack Patches but can also be found smashing drifting bait balls right through the bay, similar to a tuna feeding-frenzy.

Casting small metal slugs, buck tail jigs and even small plastics into these feeding frenzies is a great way to catch these fish. If you are willing to scale down to less than 10lb you will have a heap of fun as these fish really know how to run hard on light gear.

Calm conditions often bring spotties to the surface and this is an ideal time to target them on fly gear. Have a short 3cm wire trace when chasing these fish on fly and, with average fish sizes around 5kg, they are great fun on the long wand. If you are dead against using wire then a twisted leader is also a good option. I find anything white and slow sinking is a good and keep the retrieve constant.

The key to chasing spotties on surface, especially around the patches, is to try to remain quiet on the water and avoid moving around using the petrol motor as much as possible. An electric motor is an invaluable tool in this situation, however don’t be afraid to drift around in the general area as more often than not once things quieten down the fish will show back up again. Often they come through in waves; you will see some red hot action for ten minutes then a bit of a quiet patch until they return again.

If pelagics are not your game then concentrating efforts around Bowen’s many islands is for you. Bar cheek trout are quite prevalent on the fringing reefs of Glouster and Middle Island and large paddle-tail plastics worked from the shallows to the drop-offs are a great way to target them. By-catch of queenfish and trevally in the shallows make this fishing quite exciting as they really know how to turn it on in the shallow water.

The islands down through the Glouster Passage, like Grassy and Ratray, are also hot spots and are less fished and tend to hold larger specimens. If using bait try deeper isolated bommies in about 15-20m of water and using plenty of berley and big baits is the key.

Whether you are fishing baits or plastics make sure you are targeting the current sides of islands and bommies as most predatory fish, like coral trout, prefer to feed into the current or pressure sides of structure.

While August will see some of our coldest water temperatures there are still some action in the creeks for those willing to put in a bit of effort. Fish like barra and jacks still need to feed even in the colder months and often it is a simple case of scaling back the size of plastics and lures to get them to strike. Using the ‘jelly bean’ effect is essential in the colder months and grubs around 2-3” and even small blades like Ecogear VX35s are very effective in this situation.

In keeping small, anglers can also make the most of the big black bream that begin to school in August and with fish pushing the 1kg mark they are great by-catch.

The following month is a transition month as we begin to see some warmer water return to our waters. The action in the creeks will begin to heat up a little more and catches of barra and jacks should start getting more consistent. The key is to target the first of the dominant northerly winds that will spikes in water temperatures over a couple of days. This will bring on a savage but short bite but being in the right place at the right time is always an important part of successful fishing.

September will see another great Bowen Fishing Classic so if you are keen to wet a line in our great spot the Classic is a great time to do it.

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