January Jitters
  |  First Published: December 2007

January signals a real turn in the weather and everyone up here is getting a bit jittery in regards to cyclones.

We had a near miss in late November, but the start of December was free of any real cyclone danger. Howver, the northwesterly wind that blew for days on end really played havoc with the fishing.

We finished chartering in late November with a very enthusiastic group of anglers. They had a ball catching barra, jacks and cod in the estuaries and a whole swag of trevally and reefies offshore.

It’s good to have some time to reorganise everything for next season as there is always plenty of maintenance work to be done on the boats and tackle to make sure they’re up to scratch for the new year. But before I got into all the maintenance work, QFM editor Stephen Booth and two of his mates, Dirk Wendt and Adam Royter, came up for a week of fishing.

I’ve never really seen quite so much tackle in one place at one time. The boys had four heavy popper rods – one rigged up with 200lb Platypus braid – four 8-10kg reef plastic outfits, seven baitcasters and six other threadline outfits, plus an obligatory fly outfit. Then they had their lures. To say they are fairly serious about their fishing is an understatement, and this was meant to be a casual week of fishing to get away from city life!

Anyway, we set about getting amongst some fish from day one by heading down south to fish the beaches for blue bastards. Blue bastards are a morwong that can be found in the shallows around rocky and rubble patches and they go exceptionally hard. Fly fishers just love them because they are like big, powerful trout that you sight fish too. We decided to target them with plastics by fishing Berkley Gulp Sandworms and grubs on 2-4kg threadline outfits. It’s a great way to spend a day walking the beaches and casting at ghostly shadows on the sand patches between rocks. And when one nails your lure, you had better have your drag set properly because they peel plenty of string and don’t give up easily.

Between us we got a few blueys and a heap of small coral trout, cod, trevally, queenfish and other assorted reefies.

Day two saw us hitting the deeper reefs in search of fingermark and GT action. The GTs refused to play and we couldn’t find them all week so the four heavy popping outfits got very little use. Luckily the reefs produced on fingermark and we all got into some great fish up to 8kg. These big fingermark are released unless they are hooked deeply and bleeding or otherwise look like they’ll just end up as shark tucker. And speaking of sharks, they were about in their usual numbers making sure a share of the catch never surfaced.

We did decide to catch one of these beasts and rigged up the 200lb outfit with a single hook, just to see how much pressure we could apply to the outfit. Obligingly a shark surfaced after devouring a trevally and sat under the boat waiting for more. We rigged up the trevally head on the single hook rig, tossed it over and it was on like-Donkey-Kong in less than two seconds.

The shark, a big bull shark, took off at a rate of knots that was unbelievable considering the drag pressure we had going through the outfit. But the shark tired quickly and in 15 minutes was next to the boat where the hook was removed and the fish sent on its way. Now that all sounds great, but in that 15 minutes the shark went through three of the four anglers before tiring. They are big, powerful things not to be trifled with. After that experience the big rods went away for the duration – we were all way too tired.

We also fished some billabongs on the Wenlock River for barra and saratoga, found a great patch of manta rays that had plenty of fish around them, fished more beaches and even had a quick trip up the river.

The boys also fished almost every night under the Mission Road bridge with soft plastics catching barra, fingermark and threadfin salmon. So their relaxing week away turned into the expected 24/7 fish-a-thon.

January Expectation

Assuming there is no cyclone, the rivers and beaches will fish exceptionally well in January. The fish up here just love the warm water and fishing around the lower parts of the rivers will see you get into plenty of fish.

If you’re heading offshore, check the weather as the afternoon sea breeze can make the trip home a painful and long event. On the positive side though the reefs will be producing plenty of fish for bait and lure fishers and the ever-present trevally will be providing hours of fun in between the fingermark, coral trout, cod and black jew bites.

Early booking for next year are starting to pile up, so if you want to check out some of the best fishing in Weipa, give me a call at Dave Donald Sportfishing on (07) 4069 9064 and get in quick.

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