The recent cold has provided many opportunities for land-based and boat anglers. The cold waters have created lots of different fishable areas; awesome early morning flats fishing for estuary pelagic species to the patches of warm water where big barra are starting to congregate. Bream are firing up in the narrows, flathead are grouping together in river mouths and whiting are in exceptional numbers – what more could an angler ask for?
Large flathead are making their way into the local systems, such as the estuary outlets and creeks. Although these fish are mostly not legal-sized, some larger specimens over the legal 75cm have been caught recently. Areas like the mouth of the Boyne River and South Trees are commonly targeted this time of year. The most common place to find flatties are in flats of the estuaries and in the gutters running along the beach.
To target these species use a 6’6” to 7’ estuary rod, around 2-5kg is preferred, matched with a 2500 reel loaded with 8lb braid. Drifting prawns or whitebait is a fairly productive method for flatties with a high success rate.
If you prefer lures for flathead, 3-4” flick baits in vibrant colours on a light jighead can’t go wrong when sharply hopped around on the bottom. In the hardbodies, try to source some narrow profile deep divers with vibrant patterns. They can be worked by being twitched around the bottom digging up the sand or mud then floating up a little; the more harshly the lure is worked the better the results you will get. Good hardbodies include Rapala X-Rap 8 along with the Sebile Koolie Minnows, all of these lures have a nice action and will land a fish or two. Good soft plastics like Gulps 3” Minnows, 3” Shrimp and 3” Crabbies will also get the flathead.
Large bream have been found in the upper regions of the Fitzroy basin, especially in the narrows. A light luring combo is best for these fish. Throwing a narrow profile lure at the snags will produce these fish in good numbers. A 60mm Wriggler on a light jighead will cop a hiding when worked on a slow retrieve along the bottom. Small white baits and cut up prawns, ‘prawn cubes’ if you will, cast on a light sinker to a snag will see you bag a few.
Barra are starting to become rarer catches in the freshwater, however all is not lost, there have been some amazing specimens caught at the hot water outlet just using small mullet profile lures as it matches the local baitfish.
A recent trip chasing bream saw four barra landed on a little 6lb bream gear, and they certainly went hard. Look for pockets of calmer water as the barra will be sitting waiting for the bait to move past the water columns before coming out and hitting them hard.
Whiting in all estuaries are found in numbers but are small-sized. When prospecting for whiting, look for little shovel marks in the sand flats and yabby beds from where they stick their nose in the ground. Small ‘prawn cubes’ and bits of worm on size 12 long shanks is an effective way of nailing a few.
Crabs can still be found but in the coming months will appear less and be of less quality. Large males with firm shells will be the specimens to look for although more and more people are coming into work telling me the crab’s main body has been full but their claws are mostly empty. Don’t be discouraged though, drop some pots in and go for a fish before retrieving them in the arvo.
Fish light get the bite.Reads: 1015