Geez, summer’s not yet here and it is hot! We can look forward to more of the same through November, but the compensation is the fishing around Mackay is also red hot.
November brings heat storms, hot northerly winds, dust from the last of the cane harvest and an inkling what the rest of the summer will be like until the wet season proper starts. It also signals the start of the no-take closed season for barra, except in the local impoundments, which will see an upsurge in activity.
Fortunately all 3 of our local Mackay area dams are firing well so far, and all indications are that will continue right through to the year’s end. The star of the 3 dams has probably been Kinchant, which has been regularly turning up barra around the 110-120cm mark and they are very solid fish. A worthy catch for any angler.
Kinchant is primarily an irrigation supply dam and as such is subject to quite dramatic drawdowns during the hot weather. The dam is also topped up by water harvesting from the Pioneer River that can only occur during periods of set flow rates. This means that the environment at Kinchant is in a constant state of change during the hotter months; luckily this doesn’t seem to affect the barra and sooties too much. If anything, it makes the dam easier to fish during the lower water levels as there is simply less places for the fish to be and they are easier for anglers to find.
The barra are all over the dam, and there is no one hot spot, but on those hot still afternoons, get up in the shallows around weed beds and lilies as that’s one sure place to find them. Use poppers or walk-the-dog lures in the shallows and get ready for some exciting times. The take of a decent barra on a surface lure is something that I never get tired of and it still gets the knees shaking.
In the deeper water, look for barra along the edges of the weeds, or around the weed ‘islandnnnnmnbs’. These can be fished with soft plastics like the Slick Rigs or similar, and hardbodies as well. Use any of the well-known Aussie brands of barra lures and have a variety of types and colours. Imported lures like the Rapala X-Rap series are very effective, but have weak hooks and rings that need upgrading.
For the flyfisher, Kinchant is great as it has no trees or big snags, just extensive areas of open water and huge weed beds. Heed the advice of my old mate Wayne Kampe, with barra flies—plenty of bulk and flash, and don’t worry about finesse in tying them. Work them of an 8wt or 10wt with an intermediate line using short sharp strips, pause then a longer strip and hang on!
Teemburra and Eungella dams are fishing ‘hot’ at present; Teemburra turning up plenty of barra 60-90cm with the odd monster thrown in. Again they are spread all over the dam, but most are caught in the main basin, however there are plenty of spots in the 3 creeks that run into a plethora of little gullies and bays. It is near full so there is plenty of water mixed in with the fish.
MAFSA Inc has recently stocked another 12,000 barra into Teemburra, so they will get a real growth spurt over the summer and be legal size and ready to tangle with anglers next spring. Good days ahead.
Eungella’s sooties are thriving and playing ball with anglers so far during the hotter months. Eungella can be very windy, but on those still calm days, it is bloody hot and the fishing for sooties is unreal. There are also barra well over a metre in Eungella, as it was the first dam in our area stocked by MAFSA Inc way back in the early 90s.
On the saltwater scene, the creeks have plenty of fish on the chew, but barra are now off the list for 3 months. Fortunately a few of other species tend to dominate over the closed season. Jacks, golden snapper and cod are the main snag dwellers, while flathead, trevally, grunter and the odd king salmon will be elsewhere.
Jacks are fantastic fish to chase and catch, but the casting has to be spot on. A decent session snag bashing will improve casting accuracy out of sight. Use any barra lure, as the main requirement is placement, not size, shape or colour, although lures with red sections are popular; possibly a nod to the jacks cannibalistic habits. Lures like Reidys, Warlocks, Koolabungs, Tropic Angler, Lively lures all work just as well on jacks as they do on barra. Softies and flies are same story .
Look for jacks towards the bottom of the tide, around snags and rock bars and get your lure, fly or bait in close and in their face. Golden snapper are much the same, although more orientated to deeper holes preferably with some rocks or other heavy snags. Not the place to be fiddling around with ultra light gear, that’s for sure.
Small macks and other pelagics are around all through the district during November and will be found around the islands, reefs and Mackay Harbour. Keep an eye on the northerly winds, and check the southern harbour breakwall for action, as when the macks are on there are plenty of anglers on the walls chasing them.
Spanish mackerel are predominately a winter or cooler months fish in our area, although the odd one is still mooching around during the hotter weather. Springsure angler, John Groves, recently had a great trip off Mackay on the Spanish. Not only did he and his mates bag out on Spanish, but John also scored a beautiful sailfish, which was released after unhooking. The sail was caught near Prudhoe Island and was seen just on the surface, before a gar-trolled bait enticed a hit.
Reefies are well and truly on the chew so when there is a gap in the weather the bigger boys are out to play. Good catches of sweetlip, red throat and trout have been the staple recently. Remember to be mindful of the reef closures, don’t be stupid enough to chase them during closed periods.
So what does an angler do if he doesn’t have a small boat or is a visitor to the region? First step is to contact the local tackle outlets and seek their advice. They are not dills and with the right approach will help out with some good info. Remember, we have literally hundreds of kilometres of good beaches that offer plenty of fishing opportunities, for those prepared to do a bit of walking. Off the beaches, catches can include, whiting, bream, flathead, dart, grunter, trevally, snub nose, and the oddball catch like longtail tuna and such.
As I said at the start, November and the fishing are both red hot with plenty of opportunities for locals and visitors. See you at the ramp!Reads: 1040