Rain, rain and more rain would be an apt description of Mackay over the past month or so and this has both short and long term impacts on the local fishing.
Short term many anglers simply stayed off the water as there has been plenty of dirty run-off water around, both in the fresh and down in the saltwater systems. Long term the benefit of the traditional wet season brings renewed life with baitfish, prawns and more breeding up and showing up in good numbers, which is great news for the local fisheries.
The dirty water has not stopped the fishing entirely though as there has been plenty of barra action around the mangrove creeks with all the local spots firing, although fishing in tropical downpours is not the most pleasant recreational activity. Still, the old effort equals results equation applies to fishing as much as anything else in life.
Lure fishing in the creeks has been the most productive way to score a barra or three, but coming into the autumn months of April and May will usually see the water start to clear up and live baiting is likely to be the best way to get among the barra. Traditional barra hardbody lures will work really well, but in the cleaner water I suggest using more subtle colours or alternatively all white lures. Barra seem to have an affinity for white lures and the X-Raps in pearl white are proving very popular.
Plastics have also been big fish takers and it is surprising how big a plastic a rat barra will hammer, so don’t be shy about using big lures. I prefer them in the 75-100mm range and again white paddle tails score consistently well. The new style prawns have proven a hit with the local barra population and they sure look realistic in the water. A bit of experimenting with weight and hook placement will get your prawn moving just like the real thing with a glide and sink style retrieve working well, with many hits coming on the drop. This is not uncommon with all plastics when barra fishing, either in the fresh or the saltwater, but it means a lot of missed fish if the angler is not on the ball.
During April I expect that barra will be the number one target in the mangroves and the best tides will be on the neaps, but don’t discount the bigger tides as the fish still have to feed, but are a bit harder to find. Look for the barra during this month around the rock bars in Constant Creek either side of low tide and around any small gutters or side creeks. All the Seaforth area creeks will continue to fish well as will those further up around St Helens. While the barra can be found right through the systems, as the weather cools off a bit they seem to like to hang on the rock bars.
Closer to Mackay, the upper reaches of the Pioneer River have seen plenty of barra action, with a smattering of jacks thrown in the mix. Many of these barra are undersize or only just legal so watch the lengths carefully. These fish have mainly been in the upper saltwater, but there have also been barra caught in the freshwater closer to Dumbleton Weir. Remember there is a 250m closed area downstream of the weir and the Fisheries Patrol boys regularly check this area out.
There have been some good barra coming from Rocky Dam Creek south of Sarina, but also plenty of crocs sighted so keep an eye out for them when fishing that area. Good salmon, both kings and blues, have also been a regular catch in the Rocky Dam area, with live bait accounting for many fish.
Salmon are one species that will quite happily move into the discoloured water in estuaries and will almost go up into the fresh in places. Kings and to a lesser extent blues have been around in good numbers with live mullet and prawns being the best baits. As the weather cools a little expect that there will be plenty of smaller blue salmon around from April right through to September.
Grunter catches are slowly improving as the water clears up and they can be found like salmon almost right through the saltwater creeks, although they seem to have a preference for the shale or rubble areas, but being ‘cruisers’ they can be encountered over mud, sand etc as ell as rubble.
Crabs and prawns are on the move following the wet weather and a couple of pots can turn a poor fishing day into a great one with a couple of good muddies. There are plenty of prawns in the creeks and along the beaches adjacent for those with a cast or drag net, with some spectacular catches coming from up in the St Helens areas.
On the beaches, the dirtier water has seen an increase in catches of golden trevally and snub nosed dart, but the whiting that frequent the beaches don’t much like the dirty water. Flathead and some smaller dart are about and the odd salmon also makes beach fishing a little more interesting. Again as the rainy season gradually abates, the cleaner water will return to the beaches and the likes of whiting, flathead and dart will be back in the anglers catches.
The freshwater scene has been a bit underwhelming of late, as big inflows of dirty, cold run-off water in the lakes is a fair turn off for barra. Kinchant has been the most reliable, probably because it has only one small creek flowing into it, so the effects of the big wet have been limited. Metre plus barra are quite common in Kinchant and it continues to be the spot for a big barra with plenty around the 120cm mark. Tremendous fishing, which is a credit to the efforts of MAFSA members to establish and maintain such a great fishery.
Sooties, both in the Pioneer and the lakes, have been the mainstay of the freshwater scene while all the wet season run-off has been going on. Some absolute horses have been lured up in the heavy timbers in Teemburra Dam and my spies tell me a similar story for Eungella.
While the wet has been a bit of a pain and a catastrophe for some, the long term effects mean that the next few months should really fire up on the local front. See you at the ramp.Reads: 939