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Local fish on the chew
  |  First Published: October 2012



As we move into the warmer weather, quite a number of the local fish are on the chew. Grunter, trevally, whiting, flathead and queenies are about and fairly active in many of the coastal creeks at present.

Flathead are still in quantity all over the area’s estuaries from The Narrows right up into Army country. The banks between The Ramsey Crossing boat ramp and The Fitzroy River are working really well for average size flatties.

Lures or bait are doing the trick. Recently I saw a couple of kids using an old method we used as kids and getting good results. They were drifting each channel along the sandbanks using Wonder Wobblers with the rods sitting in the holders. The drift speed and the current ridges in the sand make the Wobbler give a unique action as it flops around puffing up small bits of sand that flatties can’t resist.

Coorooman Creek, The Causeway, Ross Creek and Corio Bay are other prime locations for flathead.

King salmon are very active lately, especially in the bigger creeks with dirty mud banks. They take a whole range of small live baits from prawns, mullet, herring and crabs. They especially like fiddler crabs, a huge king was taking them just above the water’s edge right next to our boat at Balaclava Island the other day. We had live prawn fry and poddies but we could not get a strike as he was intent on getting crabs.

Kings work each bank on a rising tide and will often be hammering the banks in very shallow water, making it easy to predict when they are likely to be at a particular spot. If you look close enough at any of the banks that are covered with small crab holes you will notice some of the holes have a funnel looking entrance. These funnel shapes, or as I call them ‘golf ball dints’, are left by king salmon as they flush out crabs and such like. The areas they are working will have fresher dints with sharp edges, while dints in areas they have worked in the past have rounded off edges.

Doggies and small grey mackerel have turned up around the islands in fair quantity in the last week or so. Most mackerel spots along the coast are worth a shot on the clear still mornings. Pillies and small lures have done the trick, especially since the schools of baitfish passing through have been in the 10cm range.

The odd Spanish mackerel should be available at spots like Barren, Manifold and Perforated until numbers pick up again around Christmas time.

Cobia are another special at the moment as they build in numbers prior to the new year. The closer pinnacle type areas are working the best and any of the mackerel grounds will have a few as well.

Most reefies have moved in to shallower grounds making them more accessible for the average local. The rubble ground behind the main islands has been performing well along with Jim Crow and the closer fern patches.

Remember The Coral Reef Fin Fish Closures start 12 October to 16 October 2012 and the barramundi closure starts at 12 noon 1 November.

Cape Creek

We are extremely lucky with the abundance of places in our region where you can get away from the crowd and have some of the best adventures around.

We recently went up to Cape Creek at Cape Palmerston for a few days.

Cape Palmerston is about three hours from Rockhampton and approximately 60km from Sarina. The turn off is right at the Ilbilbie Roadhouse, taking the Greenhills Road until the sign for Cape Palmerston comes up. It is a 4WD track only, but there are only a couple of spots where trouble can occur.

The fishing here can be amazing at times with fingermark, barramundi, flathead, grunter, bream and whiting around the small mud islands and sand bars. It is almost impossible to find small fish and almost half of them are once in a lifetime catches for most people.

There are no set spots. We found fish by applying the general rule when visiting any place: structure, structure, structure. Some campers commented on how tough the fishing was when they came home with only one or two fish, however I noticed they never went looking for new spots or fished any features.

We did very little bait fishing because luring gives you a better feel for an area, with the benefit of covering lots of territory. I took a swag of my favourite Richo’s lures for bream and flatties, while the big extractors catch everything else.

This area is a sight-fisher’s dream. As you sneak quietly along the mangrove edges on the rising tide you can see barra and giant bream hiding in the shadows of the branches and trunks. By putting a cast in front of the fish, let the lure sit for a moment, and then give it a couple of small twitches, you will see a huge bream or barra engulf it.

My first fish of the trip was a 30cm bream that smashed a 120mm lure. It looked okay until the next one came into the esky beside it and made it look like bait.

We didn’t score any of the metre-plus barramundi this trip, although I did provoke a few into pushing my lure out of their space but not smashing it like the smaller fish did.

The flathead were the most impressive of the lot. Our technique paid off time and time again. When the tides were low making travel a little difficult, we followed the channels along the banks marking where the bigger flathead lays were situated. These same spots were visited on the rising tides with shallow divers in pink or orange.

We landed several flatties between 120-140cm, releasing them while still in the water. There was another dozen or so fish well over size and there were heaps that were very close to maximum size. Watching these big critters swim away from the boat is much more satisfying than keeping them.

We then trolled the deeper channels at low tide for fingermark, again with good results. We didn’t any of the huge fingermark of previous trips but the fish we did get were still very good eating.

Hardly any of the food we took with us from home got eaten because fresh mud crab, fingermark and barra were far better than the bacon and sausages from the butcher. As we packed up and evaluated the trip, the common theme that emerged was how good would it have been if the wind had played the game as forecast? The next trip is on the drawing board already.

1

Steve McLennan landed and then released this big flatty on a Richo.

2

As you sneak quietly along the mangrove edges on the rising tide at Cape Creek you can see giant bream hiding in the shadows of the branches and trunks.

3

John Saunders with a great Keppel nannygai.

4

Steve McLennan with his first lure-caught barra. Lure fishing gives you a better feel for an area, with the benefit of covering lots of territory.

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