Golden snapper glisten catches
  |  First Published: May 2013

My fingers are crossed that May brings some favourable weather as it has been horrible through April. I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels depressed when looking at another week of 15-20 knot winds. But, like all fishing nuts, it takes a lot more than that to stop me chasing some fish somewhere.

Hinchinbrook Channel

The channel has been inconsistent for the last few months and May will probably bring more of the same.

Barra have been patchy due to the weather and plenty of good fishos have been left scratching their heads. The strong, cooler winds that have plagued us for the last few months are to blame.

Nevertheless, the advantage of fishing in May is it is the start of the cooler months, which will mean barra and jacks will feed up before the cold water shuts them down.

The secret to a good day on the barra is choosing a day that feels hot and humid. Recently we live baited a great barra hot spot that regularly produces, we had great baits and a tide change coinciding with the sun setting. Problem was there was a cool southeast wind blowing that was ruining our fun, and our live baits continued to swim around happy and untouched. This all changed for an hour when the wind dropped and we could feel the temp rising, which in turn put several barra in the boat very quickly. Barra are such temperamental fish, but once worked out can be easy to catch.

The standout fish for the last few months have been golden snapper. Most people have gotten into these wonderful fish at some stage over summer.

Although May will see the big schools of golden snapper disperse, they are always about. Hot spots at Lucinda are plentiful but areas around the Bluff and Haycock Island are the most popular and plenty of great fish are being caught there. These areas cop a lot of current so it is important to pick your fishing times around the tide changes or closer to the neap tides.

Live herring or squid are the best baits hands down for golden snapper, but fresh dead baits will also get bites. Fish your live baits on a paternoster rig or trace rig and only use enough weight to hold on the bottom; using too much weight will look unnatural.

The usual by-catch when fishing these areas are grunter (javelin fish), king threadfin salmon and the mighty black jew, all of which are great sport and fantastic on the plate.

The new side scan technology on fish finders is amazing and well worth the money for those thinking of upgrading. In the short time I have had mine I have found some great new areas in the channel that have held some awesome fish.

The Hinchinbrook Channel is full of hidden surprises so get out there and have a look around.

Islands and Reef

Not much to report from out wide as the winds have been persistent. For those thinking of visiting the tropics and want to get out wider, you will need to be prepared to head out into 15 knot winds or chances are you won’t get out at all.

With the start of the cooler weather and the cooler currents now upon us, the mighty mackerel will start appearing in bigger packs hunting down the bait schools in between reef systems.

Spanish mackerel will also be found in better numbers around the Palms and the inshore shoals and wrecks.

A new rule I have set myself this year is to troll a few lures into and around any mark I am on the way to fishing. Nearly every mark holds structure and baitfish, so the bigger predators are there as well. I have also found that for every mark I have, there is more structure in the vicinity and trolling will help you find it. It has proven itself as a great idea as my GPS has plenty more marks and the icebox or camera is being used more often.

Cobia were probably the standout fish for the last few reef and island trips. Setting a live bait near the surface while fishing for trout paid off plenty of times. In fact, double hook ups were very common and loads of fun!

Dropping 5” and 7” plastics to the bottom and working it erratically to the surface proved very effective on cobia. The most popular plastic was the Z-Man 5” scented Jerkshadz and the Z-Man 5” Streakz. Cobia also respond well to a good berley trail and we have had dozens of them around the boat at times.

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