Mack and pelagics spark fishing
  |  First Published: June 2013

June is significantly colder and signifies winter is here. It’s time to find the cold weather gear and get your mackerel game plans into action. If the last few months are anything to judge, it’s looking like a great year on the mackerel and pelagic species.


During winter the channel becomes a different world in comparison to the warmer months. The water is generally much clearer and visibility can be amazing; this means fishing for certain species becomes much harder.

Barra and threadfin become less active and more inclined to sulk in the mangroves with their head buried in the sand. However, this only means you need to choose your fishing times carefully, as they can be still be caught. I like to fish the tides about a week after the full or new moon as the tides will still have movement but are not massive. Large tides create more disturbance in the water and it is possible to find ‘dirty’ water that barra will actively feed in.

To catch winter barra regularly you need to bring all the barra-friendly factors together. Afternoons will mean the warmest water temps, so sunset linked with a tidal change, preferably the start of the run-in, and good live baits or suitable lure or plastics (think finesse and downsize leaders etc) will all play big roles in hooking up.

Now the humble bream is making it onto many fishing lists in the north, pushing mangrove jack and golden snapper to take a back seat. During winter bream come out to play, and I mean teeth-bared and beefed up. They will attack big live baits set for barra and the largest of barra lures without hesitation.

Most see them as a pest and the common saying of ‘it’s only a bream’ will be muttered a thousand times this winter. But for me I see it as an awesome time to break out the light spin gear, grab some small lures and plastics and actually chase them.

Bream are everywhere from out on the flats to up the creeks; it is the latter that interests me. Find yourself up the creeks armed with a 2-4kg spin stick tossing small plastics into the timber and prepare for a beating. They fight hard and dirty and you must be prepared for losses, but in terms of sport fishing it’s very hard to beat. Also, bream are not too bad eaten fresh and freeze well, and the barra and jacks will get in on the action as well. Remember fishing light will get you the bite!

Flathead and whiting will also gather in good numbers in June.

Plenty of fishers in the know will be pumping yabbies and fishing the flats on the incoming tide for those tasty winter whiting. I am planning on spending plenty of winter mornings with the family chasing some whiting as it is the perfect family fishing trip.

Flathead are a common species on lures during winter and fishing the drains and drop-offs around creek mouths and bays on the island will see you in with a good chance. They are ambush feeders and keep your offerings on the bottom or very close will provoke more bites.


Winter is great fishing offshore if you can get out and about; the wind doesn’t like to give us a break at this time of year.

The islands will have plenty of speedsters on offer with all the mackerel species lining up to destroy the bait schools. It is no secret that the Palm Islands are a Spanish mackerel hotspot and all you need is some good current lines and baitfish to put some bend in your rods.

Bottom fishing the Palms will also produce some cracker red throat emperor that fight hard and taste great. The secret for consistently finding red throat is to find good structure with current and fish at night. It is very rare to catch good numbers of red throat during the day around the islands.

The reef will be at its best for the big reds in the deep and with the cold water they should move to the closer spots, meaning quality fish closer to home. Trout will be active and efforts should be in the shallower water, 20-30m maximum. Be on your toes as trout are masters in destroying you quickly. If you don’t turn their heads towards you instantly they will win. Once turned, they resemble wet socks in fighting ability but make it easy to make the call of ‘is it a trout?’

Fishing plastics into the shallow bommies is another way to get a feed and have some great fun while at it. By far the best plastics for this is the Z-Man range as they are tough and you won’t go through many due to loss of tails, which is a big problem with most of the others.

Until next month, stay keen...mad keen.

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