Warm bed or fast fish?
  |  First Published: July 2013

There is nothing like a fast, early morning ride in a centre console boat during winter. Even the most sleep deprived fishing madman, such as myself will be wide-awake.

Plenty of visitors to the tropics are surprised at how cold it can get out on the water during winter. Layer up, bring hot coffee and hit the water for some cold water July action. Read on to find out why you should be getting out of a comfy warm bed here in Lucinda.

Hinchinbrook Channel

Changing tactics and paying attention to detail is the secret to catching fish in the cold months. Also, lots of patience will help, because sometimes the fish can be slow to bite. For those hell-bent on trying to catch barra, it can still be done. The barra are still there, it’s just they are nowhere near as active or aggressive. I do lots more trolling during the colder months and persistence in the same area can pay off with big fish landed, or at least hooked. Slow trolling with lots of rod work giving the lure pauses and action is always going to help get more hits. This year, I have plans to target these same fish in the same areas with plastics and I believe those 4” Z-man SwimmerZ plastics are going to get some attention, serious attention!

Small to medium fingermark are now holding in the snags up the creeks in better numbers and provide plenty of fun on live herring drifted in with the current. Fingermark will take up residence on any structure but those nearer deeper water and with good current can really fire. They also smash lures and plastics, so be on your toes as a legal fingermark will give you a good run for your money on barra gear.

The jetty is also home to plenty of line burners during winter and late afternoon popper sessions can have you sweating in no time. Extra, extra large queenies hang in packs and will basically fight each other to smash your popper. If you’re fishing with anglers who can’t make the cast due to distance or ability, then a popper with no hooks will bring the fish into range. Keeping a hooked fish boat side can also have active fish swimming around the boat excited and ready to eat something

Winter is a great time to grab the family and just walk around the beaches chasing bread and butter fish. Bream, whiting and flathead, the often forgotten NQ species, are about in great numbers so pump some yabbies (nippers) or just buy some prawns and spend an hour or 7 fishing the beaches. Boneless whiting and flathead fillets done in a light batter with a cold beer is near perfection.

Islands and Reef

Early morning runs to the wider grounds will have you shaking for 2 reasons. The first being from the cold and the second being the shaking hands of big fish possibilities. Mackerel appeared early and by July, they should be nearly everywhere. If the previous few months are much to go by, then we are in for a CRACKER pelagic season! Fingers crossed. Mackerel are not only great eating providing plenty of fish meals, but they are also awesome fish to catch. Holding onto the rod as they take that first blistering run is addictive and the fact that they will eat nearly anything makes them not too hard to catch. On this point, just a reminder that they do not release well and even if lightly hooked, they may die after release. Catch a few for a feed, then stop fishing for them is the best idea, they will be there next time you head out.

As deepwater fishing is still rather new to me, I don’t know the facts, however the red fish seem to come in closer during the colder months. I have found this rumour true on many occasions and we pull big nannygai off some shallower and heavily fished areas in the cold. This is the perfect recipe for some light gear and some plastics as 60cm plus nannies provide great sport. Fishing some grunter rubble or a wreck can see your arms ripped off as a large nanny puts the power down so keep this in mind when fishing near structure.

Trout will be feeding more in the shallows during the colder months, so it pays to spend your trout time in the 15-30m zones with baits and lures. Trout can be caught trolling and although again this is new to me, I have been told of great results using this technique. Just like with barra, it is important to choose a lure that will swim near the bottom to provoke strikes. They are a very aggressive fish when they are ‘on’ and I have had them smash GT poppers in 20m of water on many occasions.

So as you can see there are plenty of fishy reasons to battle the elements and hit the water during the cold. Hopefully next month may see some marlin pictures gracing the pages here in the tropical north. Stay keen, mad keen!

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