Don’t sweat the small, go big!
  |  First Published: March 2013

It’s hot up here. This year the heat and humidity is not just a rumour and anybody fishing through the middle of the day is mad keen or really in need of a fresh fish dinner.

A month into the barra season has seen plenty of fish being caught by locals and visitors alike. The rainfall and flooding has produced perfect conditions for hungry and aggressive barra! There has also been some big buck mud crabs being caught regularly. Ahh, Tropical North Queensland barra and mud crab feasts...does it get any better?

Hinchinbrook Channel

March offers a great range of fishing options and species but the barra are still on top of everyone’s wish lists.

If you are still barra-less by March don’t worry as they are still about and will still be very hungry. Depending on the amount of rainfall will dictate where best to target the fish. If we receive plenty of rain and the channel is running brown (carrying a lot of freshwater) you will be best to fish the many rocky headlands and beaches instead of the creeks. When the creeks are flushed out with freshwater the bait is pushed out as well and the barra will follow.

Trolling larger lures in darker colours, which have a built in rattle, is a great way to get into the barra and also the king threadfin salmon. Find a good stretch of water with depths of between 6-10m with plenty of structure on the bottom such as rocks and timber. Careful lure selection is critical and for optimal results you want to have your lure tracking close to the bottom and structure.

Obviously if the sounder is showing fish holding at depths then run your lures there. All lures come with a ‘diving depth’ on the box so use this as a guide, the more line you let out and trolling into/with the current will all effect the diving depth and action of the lure. Take notice of when your lure touches structure or the bottom and use the sounder to pinpoint how deep your lure is running.

When you get good at trolling you will be able to modify where your lure is running by using rod angles and winding in or letting out line; it will make plenty of difference. Also work your lures by dropping the rod tip back and creating slack line so the lure pauses. This is very important and will see you get more hits.

For those just wanting to relax and take in the scenery then just chucking out a few lures and trolling away a few hours while having a cold drink and a sandwich should still see you in with a chance.

For the lure tossers the secret to getting better results will be finding good water colour. Heading up the channel into the Benjamin flats area should get you away from the browner flood water and into some action. Throwing shallow divers and prawn imitation plastics into the drains is dynamite at this time of year. On the drop out tide find yourself a good flats area with plenty of drains and using long casts land your offerings right up them and slowly twitch them out.

Live baits also fished into these areas work well and remember the water does not have to be deep to get fish. Use some stealth and throw live prawns and small poddy mullet on to the shallow flats and drains for great results and plenty of fun.

Finally, please remember that you don’t have to keep every barra you catch, if it was up to me I would reduce the bag limit; five fish is way too many.

Wide and Wider

Mixed results are common at this time of year as the water temps and freshwater can all play a role in determining how the fish will bite. I have done it tough out on the reef the last month and from what I hear I am not the only one. But as they say, some days are diamonds, some days are full of sharks.

Fishing deep is your best chance. Look at 60m to start off, there have been some good reef jacks about lately so always hang onto your rod tight.

The mack tuna have been in big proportions and have offered plenty of fun and games for the sports fisho. Using slugs and smaller poppers will see you hooked up but for the perfect all rounder, rig up some plastics as you can work the top water or let it sink down through the school. The 5” Z-Man Streakz in pearl colour rigged on a 1/2oz or 3/4oz TT jighead is a deadly combination.

The longtails (northern blue tuna) are also about in the closer waters harassing the bait schools. Trolling some lures around the islands is always a good start, keep your eye out for any bird activity that may give away their position.

Until next month, stay keen.

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