Mixing it up
  |  First Published: March 2013

March brings a bitter sweet mixture of conditions for the fishers of Bowen, making it one of the harder months of the year to plan a fishing trip. On one hand March usually sees its fair share of rain and storms, but on the other hand it can also provide some great offshore fishing weather. Either way both conditions will produce some excellent fishing.

While the rain can be quite annoying when trying to wet a line, March rain is nowhere near as monsoonal as the wet of February. This means the creeks become a little easier to fish especially for mangrove jacks and barramundi. Many a diehard jack and barra fisher actually prefer the wet weather conditions of March as it really gets the little creeks running, which can get the fish biting hard on bait that is often flushed out.

Creek systems like Bob Moses to the north of Bowen and Duck Creek to the south of Bowen really shine during these conditions and can produce some very exciting fishing. I attribute this to the heavy rains of February that make finding a meal quite difficult for these predatory fish and they really become more opportunistic and much less fussy when feeding.

When you add to the mix a little more stability in the creeks due to the slowdown in rain and run off, these fish become a much easier target especially for lure fishers. I love casting around big hardbodies this time of year; finding one with a slow rolling action and suspension through the water is a good start.

The Smoking Drags Interceptor is one new lure that has been pulling its weight amongst the stalwarts like the Bombers and Yo Zuris on the barra and it will prove quite deadly during these conditions. While the argument on lure colour has been going on forever it’s hard to go past a dark deep green or white lure in these dirty water conditions. Just remember it’s important to fish your lure slowly as barra can often be found lying in gutters and open water during times when freshwater is running the creeks.

Barramundi tend to lose that big silver shine and take on a more brackish look during this time as they live amongst the dirty water. During March targeting snags for barra is not the only option and fishing open water stretches where dirty water meets clean water and where bait is congregating can also guarantee a good catch. Staying alert and taking notices of bait and clear water is very important this time of year and is a good start to locating fish.

March can also see some fantastic offshore weather and the warmer months have already produced some exceptionally calm days this year. March is the last months before we start seeing those southeasterly trade winds dominate the Bowen weather so getting out on the blue when the weather is right is important.

Bowen is littered with inshore reef and coral bommies and moving around can produce a good haul of tasty reef fish. You don’t need a big boat either and there have been plenty of thumper coral trout taken in waters less than 5km from the ramp already this year. The most important ingredient is to make sure you are fishing up current from coral bommies and reef structure so your bait is feeding into the front of current face. This is where these fish will be feeding and lurking and getting your bait in the right spot is vital.

I prefer to fish the deeper water, especially wrecks which are dotted all around Bowen’s coast line. These are all identified on a Navionics map so get yourself a good marine map and you will have found yourself a couple of really good fishing spots.

Bowen’s wrecks are always loaded with golden, tealeaf and giant trevally and if you like a bit of jigging you will go home with very sore arms. There have also been good schools of mackerel on the wrecks this year and these resident fish can’t resist a lightly weighted pilchard.

Larger fish like cobia are also present but are much more cooperative when live baits like small trevally, hussar or fusiliers are sent downwards. I like to position my live baits about three-quarters of the way down as floating baits tend to attract giant trevally at these spots.

Night fishing is also a great idea on the wrecks as the bigger nannygai and even golden snapper tend to play the game once the sun has set.

Next month the trade winds will begin to blow, which tends to shut down the offshore fishing. Hopefully the seas will remain calmer a little longer this year and those pesky southeasters will remain at bay for a while. If they do there will be some excellent fishing to be had out wide as the tidal runs drop down making it much easier to fish the deeper water for nannygai and red emperor.

In the creeks, April tends to spell the beginning of big runs of mud crabs as we move closer to the cooler months. This is one of my favourite times of the year to sink a few pots as the crabs are usually big and full with not many jennies around.

In finishing we have some pretty interesting times ahead in Bowen with the proposed dumping of 3 million cubic metres of dirt on the offshore fishing grounds near Holbourne Island. The dirt is being dredged to make way for a new coal port and it is a pretty hotly contested topic at the moment as the area where the dirt is to be dumped holds some of the best red fishing rubble grounds in our area. I guess we will just have to wait whether the science boffins are right and our fish can survive under all that dirt!

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