Start seeing red this Christmas
  |  First Published: December 2012

During December all eyes are on the weather, and conversations always revolve around one topic – rain.

How much rain we are having will have a big influence on how the fishing is in Lucinda. If we have had plenty then the channel may run fresh and discoloured, making fishing difficult. But don’t despair there are still plenty of fish to be caught, we just need to change tactics to suite what Mother Nature throws at us.

Out on the reef the heat should have fishos seeing red…emperor that is!

Hinchinbrook Channel

Those early mornings when you wake up dripping in sweat as there is not a breath of wind and the humidity is already through the roof – get up! Get to your favourite mangrove jack haunt for some serious surface action. Is there a better way to start your day then a pre breakfast jack session? They will certainly get the old heart beating that I know for sure.

Many people seem to think jacks only feed sub-surface but this is far from true, under the cover of darkness jacks really prowl around and if you listen carefully you will clearly hear the snap of toothy jaws as another baitfish meets its demise.

Every creek in the area offers great jack opportunities and finding a good combination of structure with a nice sand/mud bank close by will have you in with a chance. For a good jack spot, check out smaller creeks with plenty of tight bends in them (Google maps is an excellent tool for finding fishing spots!). Tight bends mean good current flow, undercut banks, structure (snags) and a shallow bank on the opposite side – perfect.

If you can brave the insects and crocs fish these areas before the sun is up in those fishy pre-dawn hours. Throw a few baits, such as mullet or sardines, out the back of the boat while you start lobbing all sorts of artificials about. All going to plan you will spend the day at work with shaking hands as you relive every terrifying moment of that ‘jack attack’.

Fingermark are also really biting well in the creeks and off the headlands. The best bait for these fish are live herring or live squid and if you can get a supply of these you are in with a great chance. Fishing the many drop-offs and pressure points near the bluff should see you in with a good chance.

There have been the odd report of big black jew prowling about at the moment. A few have been landed but most have made their escape as they are only up against lighter gear.

A quick tip for those at anchor is to tie a float on your anchor rope so if you are hooked up in a big way you can untie the anchor and follow your fish (by the time you pull the anchor up its way too late!)

Palm Islands and Reef

The reef should be producing all sorts of delicious treats for those who can put up with the extreme heat. Fish early mornings or afternoon to avoid the extreme heat. Night sessions are the best idea; not only to hide from the heat but it also offers the peak times to fish. Keeping a good eye on any potential storms is always a priority. You really don’t want to caught in one.

You want to target the deeper water for trout now that water temps are rising, around the 35-40m mark. Getting good at anchoring on the spot is handy as you want to fish the area that is getting hit with the current. Alternatively, if you have a good skipper then using the motors to hover over an area for a drop or two is a great way to pull a fish and cover more ground.

There have been some great captures of red emperor from the lucky few who know where they are. Using big fish flesh baits, such as tuna or trevally, is the best option to pull one of these brutes from the deep. Make sure you are using good gear as they really do pull like trains.

For those looking for new spots a great option is to find a suitable depth of water, kill the engines and drift while setting a couple of live baits and dropping some big plastics to the bottom. Doing this on neap tides or near the top or bottom of the tide will make fighting the current easier. Keep a good eye on the sounder as you drift and hopefully you will be reaching for the mark button.

Using the big 8” Z-Man Streakz on big heavy-duty TT jigheads will tempt anything that swims. I have caught trout on one drop and cobia on the next. We all have been anchored up and the bite has gone quiet all of a sudden, due to tide or time of day, so before up-anchoring drop a plastic to the bottom for a few minutes as you may be pleasantly surprised.

Remember to also be prepared. I recall on one trip when I had pulled the last mackerel lure into the boat something caught my eye. Over 100kg of lit up marlin swimming around my boat, eye balling me as in to say ‘please feed me a live bait!’ But I had no live bait to feed it – lesson learnt! I still toss and turn at night as I re-live that moment over and over.

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