There’s been not much of a winter this year so fish like barra and jacks kept up with reasonable numbers even on pretty cool days.
Great recruitment over the wet years plus the overflow at Awoonga has meant that we have lots of barramundi in our local systems. The fortunate part of this dramatic rise in numbers over the past few years is that the majority of amateurs who can catch barra have a healthy catch and release attitude and only take a couple at a time. There are a few grubs and hopefully the pressure of fisheries and local thinking can help change the bad attitudes. Some of our local professionals think of the future and plan accordingly. Then we have one or two pros who only think of pockets full of cash now, even to the extent of flogging an area when prices are driven low by a glut in the market. Luckily, there are still lots of barra and with another big wet this year helping recruitment again, we will be reaping the benefits for a while yet.
Blue salmon are going well in areas like the mouth of Coorooman creek and The Narrows. Mostly they have been taking yabbies or prawns and even beach worms, particularly around Corio. One of the old guys I saw chasing them at Sandy Point said he cuts his worms into segments about two inches (50mm) and threads 3-4 through one end onto the hook. This way the pieces are all moving around, attracting salmon and just about anything else in range He does the same with yabbies, hooking them through the second segment from the tail so they are free to move around separately. Pillies on gangs will also do the job up on the beaches in the frothy part of the waves edging the deeper gutters. Kings continue as normal, with plenty of fish spread over a large part of the salt in the Fitzroy from the barrage down to The Port. The town reaches always has salmon around the rocks and downstream mud banks. Waterpark Creek is another spot working at the moment.
Most of the area’s creeks are in good form for flatties and some very nice fish have been reported. Lately quite a number of oversized females have been caught and released. Corio Bay and Coorooman Creek have been the pick locations as the fish have been congregating along the many sandbank channel edges. Some of the better fish are taking lures and baits meant for bream in very shallow water. With the choice of plastics and lures so large these days, it is hard to recommend just one type or colour. Luckily, flathead care less than we do and will nail nearly anything that passes their nose. Lures give you an opportunity to cover a lot more ground and check out lots of different country until you find the fish. Bait fishers have to pick the likely spots and wait for the fish to move in or out with the tides. Either way, they are a great fish to target with a better than average chance of getting a feed.
There are stacks of hardiheads and poddy mullet moving in the creeks plus the abundance of yabby beds in all of our local creeks, so there is no shortage of bait on hand. There have been bream, whiting and queenfish featuring in some quality estuary bags lately.
This year, Keppel Bay has had to deal with prolonged dirty plumes from dredging the harbour and the large fresh flow from the wet. All this combined has slowed the lesser mackerel species from doing their regular bay runs. Lately it is looking good and signs are improving as we are getting a few doggies and even some spotties. This should mean unless the dredging of the marina goes ahead and we get a big rain event when the spotty run is expected then we could have a good month for the small tinny fishers.
This month has been regarded over the years as the prime time for spotted mackerel. The first of the spring northerlies mean the water temperature is probably rising a bit and spotties should be on the way. They come into the bay and the first run is usually around Quartz Rock. They move through all the islands of Emu Park, Ritamada, Ironpot, Double Heads, Forty Acre, Ross Reef, Bangalee, Farnborough, Findlays and Conical. The last few years they have run out wide of the bay (because of the dirty water) with some good shows at Barren and even random spots along the shoals including Douglas and Innamincka
Cobia have been showing here and there and not in any consistent form like previous years. They can be around virtually any offshore structure or rubble patch although taller structures are the pick. At spots like Jim Crow you can get them taking reef fish bottom rigs and the taller spots they often grab floating baits or troll baits meant for mackerel. There are some fairly reliable spots such The Pinnacles, Liza Jane, Outer Rock as well as Man and Wife islands where you have a good chance of a cobia most days. They seem to hit the shallow spots like Rita Mada and Findlays first thing around sun up and then move to the deeper spots during the day.
There are still a few horse grunter getting around the local wrecks and rubble patches. The past few years they don’t seem to have slowed very much as the guys who target them frequently hardly ever miss out. I think the weather and the tides are probably more important than the season at present. Using the same practice as we do when chasing big reds and other reefies, we only stop at any particular spot if there is bait showing on the sounder. This rule of thumb puts us onto the fish quickly and you don’t waste precious time if the fish aren’t there. Squid and pillies are the most favoured bait for offshore grunter fishers although big banana or king prawns are very good if you can sneak a few out past the cook
Dolphin fish, or mahi mahi, are appearing in more catches around here all the time. It could be because the average angler is no longer just a dangler. What I mean is that these days with the advent of plastics and specialist lures more people are trying different techniques for all sorts of fish and are reaping the benefits in the wide variety of fish species that will grab their presentation. People are also becoming savvier in how to choose a particular fish and try a range of styles until they hit pay dirt.
The bigger reefies have been coming in quite close to places like Jim Crow and the intermediate fern grounds in the past month. Some of the catches of reds and large nannies are as good as we have ever seen. Pretty well most of the offshore grounds are producing quality fish and you are more likely to get a feed than not, especially if you locate the bait schools and fish where they are. Black jew, coral trout, hussar, rosy jobs and parrot are all on the chew at the moment. This weather is prime, not too hot or not too cold. It will be a great month, provided the wind stays down.Reads: 2600