Action Aplenty
  |  First Published: December 2012

The start of 2013 is now here and for the Whitsundays this means even more hot weather.

January can really turn up the heat, especially during the middle of the day. We’re also entering the time of year when heavy rain and flooding often occurs so it can become very humid. On the fishing front, the warm and tropical weather means active fish. Many species will tend to feed and travel more often. Pelagics such as giant trevally, golden trevally, queenfish and some mackerel species will be a productive target. With the warm waters, the shallows can sometimes become too warm and bright for larger fish during the day. That is why deepwater fishing can work well around this time of year, as big, sensitive fish species look for slightly cooler and darker water.

Digging Deep

Prime deepwater locations include some type of cover or structure near the bottom. Structure such as a steep underwater drop-off, ledge or patch of reef or rocks can hold some very quality fish. The current sweeps by these spots and creates a zone where the water is disturbed. Baitfish and certain types of predatory fish will always hang around these spots.

You’ve probably heard anglers on fishing TV shows talking about the importance of a quality depth sounder. Well, when it comes to locating deepwater structure and deep holding fish it’s imperative. If you buy a cheap depth sounder, it just won’t be able to show you the detail of what’s below. So when you’re looking out for a sounder next time, don’t be afraid of putting in the extra dollars for a better unit as it will pay off for your future fishing trips.

Large rocky points at the ends of beaches and bays are great places to look with a depth sounder. There are often large boulders, broken rocks and other structure on the bottom and these are the places that hold big fish.

On a recent deep water session, we were fishing on top of a patch of rocks in about 15m of water. Our Lowrance HDS8 sounder was showing some very promising thick lines, which we thought may be queenfish and tightly packed baitfish. We were dropping in 1.5oz and 2oz TT Switchblades straight under the boat to the bottom. Then, we made an aggressive double-hop retrieve all the way back up. In 15 minutes of fishing we had some great highlights including an unusual capture of a quality longtail tuna which didn’t make a single screaming run. We boated a solid golden trevally and lost a monster fingermark right at the side of the boat. The area certainly was alive!

As we left the spot we had another look at it – all you could see from the surface was water. It goes to show how useful a tool the sounder can be for uncovering those spots hidden from eyesight.

Impoundment Barra Kayak style

Peter Faust Dam, situated inland from Proserpine, is an excellent addition to the Whitsundays as a fishing destination. The ultra-warm weather of January really heats up the water and creates some very active and lively barramundi.

Plenty of fish over 110cm have been caught trolling the deep, open basin recently, with a few reports of fish near the elusive 125cm+ mark. These fish are rare in the barramundi impoundments but the deep, open basin always seems to produce quite a few for lucky anglers around this time of year.

With the quality basin fishing on offer, January can be a great time to try deep water trolling. It’s generally much easier to catch a barramundi trolling compared to casting, which requires more knowledge of fish holding locations.

If you’re into kayak fishing, it’s also a great time to try and land a big fish from your kayak. Battling a large barramundi from a kayak is a real thrill – you get to see and feel the action close up. A chrome-sided metre long barramundi launching out of the water beside you is awesome to watch.

At Peter Faust Dam, the barramundi can be caught anywhere in the main basin. Some of the fish will form schools seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Others will be solitary and some will hold on underwater features such as old riverbed channels and drop-offs.

The area out from the dam wall, boat ramp and around the main river bed is often a productive location. Slowly trolling large hardbody lures around the 10-20’ mark produces many fish, especially when there is plenty of baitfish hanging around that similar depth. A big barramundi out of a kayak is a memorable experience and a good title to add to your list of fishing achievements.

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