The cooler weather has set in and so has some exceptional winter fishing opportunities. Mackerel, tuna, nannygai, and coral trout are all on the cards this July!
The blue water fishing is red hot at the moment with the best catches coming from anglers heading out on overnight and day trips offshore from Townsville.
When the weather is cold the mackerel come on the bite and this was definitely the case with early morning fishing in jumpers and beanies producing some awesome fishing sessions. Mackerel fishing can be quite simple; it can be as easy as trolling a shallow diving lure. Mackerel move inshore, which make them a big target for smaller boats trolling around the shipping channel and various headlands not far from the main boat ramps.
Another cracking fish that is now available is the nannygai. These fish are very tough opponents for any angler targeting them with hard headshakes and strong runs testing arms and gear. Fishing around the Magnetic Island shoals is a great place to find some monster nannygai with fish getting into double digits on the scales.
A fail-safe technique to chase a few nannygai is a paternoster or dropper rig with good sharp hooks in the 8/0–10/0 size loaded with some fresh squid. For more of a challenge, dropping down small metal jigs and soft plastics can see you hooked up to some big nannygai as well. Just remember to make sure the jig hits the bottom before beginning your retrieve.
I have to say getting a few jigs and spending a day on the various wrecks out from Townsville is an absolute ball and can result in a great catch of hard fighting trevally along with mackerel, coral trout, sweet lip and some lord cod can all be encountered.
Small jigs in the 50-120g size are ideal and one of these rigged on a 30-50lb combo will be all you need to have a top day on the wrecks. Using a lighter leader around the 40-50lb fluorocarbon will see you getting bites all day long from resident fish.
Jigging does require a certain technique with various retrieve patterns producing different results. A constant hopping of the jig as you wind in at medium pace is generally enough to entice a fish to strike. All I can say is get spooled up with some braid, rig a bunch of jigs with assist hooks and give it a try – you will have an absolute ball.
The cooler weather conditions and colder water temperatures bring a lot of action into the creeks. Grunter are a popular fish to chase in the estuaries as they respond well to bait and lures. The most common method is to use bait fished on a 4/0 hook with a running sinker. Grunter will actively move and feed with the tide over sand and mud flats searching for food. Anchoring on a flat on the incoming tide is a good start to see some action.
Whiting can also be targeted with this method although using a smaller hook in a long shank will see better results. Whiting have a smaller mouth and using a smaller hook ensures good hook ups from their tentative bites.
July is generally regarded as the worst time to fish for barramundi, however. they can still be caught and some excellent days on the water are achieved chasing barra in the cold. Barra prefer the warmer water temperatures, their diet changes and they can be found schooled up in ideal spots, so changing your techniques to suit their behaviours will see fish landed.
If you are lure fishing then prawn style soft plastics work well, and live baiting is the go to bait. Fishing in shallower water with heavy structure is also a top method.
As always in this beautiful part of Australia there is plenty on offer, so grab your rod and head out for some fishing action.Reads: 1962