Beware of the bream
  |  First Published: August 2012

The middle of winter in the tropics can be an extremely frustrating time of year for me.

As I now own a larger boat all I ever want to do is head wide and explore the unknown, but old ‘windy’ has other ideas. There have been a few days of perfection but, other than those rarities, it has been pretty much impossible to head out unless you own a version of the Titanic.

Nevertheless, all is not lost as the Hinchinbrook Channel still has a lot of fun and games on offer for those who put in the time.


Anyone interested in chasing solid bream now is the time for you. During the colder months bream feed up and will attack anything that moves.

I have a vision that bream (hunting in big packs) simply swim the creeks and all small barra and jacks run and hide not to be seen until it gets warmer. Ok, so maybe that isn’t exactly true, but still there are a lot of bream about! In fact during a live baiting session using big mullet and gar, bream only 20cm long were killing and slowly picking them away – dangling toes or hands in the water is a dangerous idea.

Downgrading your gear and having loads of fun by using lightly weighted baits such as prawns, sliced herring or cubed pillies will see plenty of bites.

There are a few barra hanging around the sand and mud flats on the dropping tide and finding the dirty water is the key to finding the fish. Target the banks that have had more sunlight as they will be warmer and will normally be dirtier in appearance then other areas.

Good quality silver grunter are about on the first of the run-out tide. Creek mouths and creek junctions are the best places to look for them.

Recently I did some fishing with a couple of travelling gun fisho’s and a Hinchinbrook barra was top of the most wanted list. As I armed up with my usual Bombers, they were loading Z-Man plastics on to snagless TT jigheads – I had heard the rumours but had not used or seen them myself. They tied them on and through them into and over the snag; they didn’t have the worry of snagging up. I was just amazed at what you can do with this kind of set up.

There are so many more jighead combinations to try out each giving the plastic such a realistic action.

It could have been luck but on a shut down day they out fished me for barra 2:1, and I am the local. We went on to have a fantastic day on the water with plenty of fish taken, including some decent-sized GT.


On the few occasions we were able to head out to the reef there weren’t many boats coming back empty-handed. Pretty much all reef fish are biting well and bringing back a mixed bag of trout, nannygai and emperor, along with a mackerel or two is not uncommon at this time of year.

For the visiting angler chasing mackerel it is no secret that the top end of Bramble Reef is a hot spot. It is normally as easy as joining the crowd and floating out some pillies under a float or balloon or throwing out a few lures and trolling.

On a recent trip we were sounding out schools of bait surrounded by mackerel and dropping metal Bumpa Bars into them. It is so much fun on hook up, but when three or four are hooked up at the same time it is chaotic – fancy foot work is needed.

There are also some good mackerel spots in closer around the Palms for those in smaller boats. Look for those fast current areas and bait.

Remember that mackerel can be released. Yes, it can be tricky depending on where they are hooked but if only pinned in the mouth and not much blood is evident then leaving the fish in the water and unhooking it will see them swim away. There is no need to kill unwanted fish, stop fishing for them when you have a feed.

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