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Black are back at Barren
  |  First Published: November 2012



The bait schools have moved in on cue and with them has come a few unexpected captures for the immediate local area. Small black marlin have been caught at Barren and at some of the patches off Keppel by the guys chasing mackerel around the bait schools.

September, October or November seem to be the pick of the months for small blacks, but unfortunately we don’t get them regularly enough to say they are thick. Reports said they were caught on floating pillies and live baits under balloons. They were caught on average in about 16m depths, and as little as 11m at Findlays where a 20kg baby black was landed last week. Just like all predatory fish if you find the bait schools then the predators won’t be far away.

Cobia are everywhere as we move into the warmer weather. This year they have flooded the inshore reefs once again and virtually any pinnacle-type structure, in as close as Findlays all the way out to the shoals, has a chance of holding quantities of large cobia.

We usually stop at a couple of different spots to grab yellowtail scad for live bait on our way to the red grounds but it makes it very hard to score bait when they are getting nailed as soon as they hook up. Bait jigs don’t last long with 10kg+ cobes giving you curry.

Cobia or black king can take anything from livies to floated pillies and even dead bait at times. At present they seem to be in very shallow areas where they are taking bottom baits or floaters. Outer, Man & Wife, Barren, Findlays, Forty Acre, Liza Jane and The Pinnacles are all close enough for the average fisher to get into these great sport fish.

They need to be bled on capture straight into the kill bin for five or ten minutes then into the ice slurry to get the best out of them as a table fish. We prefer them as a BBQ fish, cook it until a fork passes through without grabbing then finish it off with dash of pepper, a bit of lemon – it doesn’t get much better!

Some of the biggest doggies caught for a long time were taken lately around the back of the islands and around Barren. They haven’t been in huge schools compared to previous years but the size more than makes up for that. Lures or baits have both done the trick and berley is a essential when mackerel are about.

They have made little forays into the bay around the southern end of the coast especially on those rare still mornings. Farnborough, Bangalee, Findlays, Ironpot, Double heads, Rita Mada, Wedge, Pelican and Quartz Rock are the spots when doggies come in.

The Spanish around at the moment are all local fish until the schools start moving through again in coming months. Catches of Spaniards came back to the twos and threes compared to the bag-outs earlier in the year.

One or two sharky mackerel were nailed in the past week down around the bottom end of Keppel. If there are any about, they will be at Sykes Rock on the southern end.

Wahoo are a summer fish around here and from now to Christmas is a fairly good period to target them from past performances. The spots I prefer are all reef passes or eddies around big bommies. The majority of them are taken when doing a fast troll for Spaniards with either lures or troll baits. Big lures or big skirts are my favourite because you cover a lot of ground quickly and if they are not in attendance you find out quickly.

Northern bluefin tuna and mac tuna are moving into the area following the whitebait schools. From now into Christmas they’ll be adding a bit of variety to the day’s fishing. Small slugs or chromies will score tuna either by casting or trolling.

When you see birds working the surface it can be mackerel or tuna; the main difference is tuna usually boil on the surface while mackerel seem to hang just under, although there are exceptions to the rule.

This month is the second lot of coral reef fin fish closures on the 11-15 November inclusive. If you are not sure which species you can’t take just look up www.daff.qld.gov.au.

Red fish are in fine form again as they appear to have come in close to the main islands. Places like Greasy Alley and Liza have had a good show over the last week or two with reports of some 8kg+ large mouth nannygai scored.

The patches around Flat, Perforated and Manifold are working well, generally when there is a bit of run in the water but not too much. Red emperor are all over the area and the closer fern country is worth a shot.

Last weekend loads of boats hit the water early but the results were mixed; we held off and did an afternoon trip instead. The evenings are definitely fishing better than the mornings at the moment. I went through the fishing diary and found that late winter and spring afternoon sessions have been more productive for me in recent times. A good option is to head north with the southeaster around lunch time and then come home with the northeaster in the evening. It makes a more comfortable run and you use a lot less juice getting there.

The barramundi season closed on the first of this month after a great season in Central Queensland. This means that you cannot target barramundi in the wild. The last few weeks the barra in the local area were going off, especially in The Fitzroy and right in the centre of town. The quantity of large fish has increased over the past couple of years from the big percentage of rats we had been getting. Signs are good for the future providing the rains return after this predicted dry summer.

Although we can’t target barra in the wild we can however chase them at Awoonga over the closed season. Reports from the dam have mentioned a number of big barra on the sounder but they have been very hard to catch. On a recent run we saw a few decent fish hanging around the schools of bony bream in some fairly shallow areas and the odd big shape on the sounder in the deeper channels.

I haven’t got them wired like some of the locals but the one thing I did learn that improved my captures was that bony bream and barra tend to be on the banks the wind is blowing towards.

Fingermark and mangrove jack have been the stars lately and as the water heats up so have they. The most popular jack spot in this area is The Causeway Lake, which has them in numbers all the time. They will move towards the front whenever there is a run-through (bigger high tides), other than that there are lots of rock bars and fallen timber around the lake where they hang.

The Fitzroy and Corio Bay have jack but not in the same quantities as The Causeway. Fingermark are going well, particularly in The Narrows, and any of the rubble headlands heading north into Army Country. Most fingermark are taken trolling lures that touch bottom occasionally over the rubble and along rocky walls.

Flathead remain a favourite and right across summer they will be targeted in the estuary mouths and into the local creeks with baits or plastics. Anywhere there is a sandbank and a channel there will be a flatty.

Salmon, grunter and whiting are other species active this month in pretty well all the local estuaries.

Recreational Use Fee

Do you know that you pay a special purpose levy of $18 RUF (recreational use fee, previously known as PPV) on top of your boat registration to ensure recreational fishing incentives? This now raises around $4.6m that goes direct to Fisheries Queensland.

The monies in the past have been partly used for such activities as: kids fishing days; freshwater fish stocking support; recreational research assistance; Fishcare volunteers; and, fish tagging programs. $2m of this money will be reallocated to Fisheries staffing and government business by axing the above recreational incentives and others that benefitted recreational fishing.

Your money is no longer being used as it was intended for established recreational fishing community programs. Register your objection to the reallocation of your money! Please take any or all of the following actions on 15 October:

• Phone and email the Premier --e-mail address hidden-- 3366 6000.

• Phone and email the Fisheries Minister --e-mail address hidden-- 4639 1199.

• Phone and email your local Member Bruce Young --e-mail address hidden-- 4939 5732.

• Bill Byrne --e-mail address hidden-- 4927 5299.

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