In the lead-up to the barramundi closed season, the fishing was hit-and-miss; even with a short winter and a very hot spring the barra still refused to eat some days. There were plenty of frustrated anglers and I found myself second-guessing the sounder as it displayed plenty of barra ‘shows’, but after throwing my entire tackle box at them I still got very little response.
But hey – that’s fishing. Now we have to focus on other species until the barra season re-opens in February.
Flashes of red and snapping jaws will signal that the mighty mangrove jack is really ready to play ball. They are such a terrific fish to catch as they attack with everything they have, and if you’re not alert they’ll add your rig to their collection.
Jacks can be found throughout the entire channel and the many mangrove creeks that Hinchinbrook has to offer. Some creeks seem to hold better numbers then others but if you can find good structure and bait you are in with a shot at a jack.
Serious jack anglers anchor up on tight creek corners and feed baits into the strike zone. The best time to do this is around the hours of the low tide, and both live and dead baits work well. Fishing a livebait such as a small mullet or herring under a float is a deadly technique. This way of fishing livebaits for jacks was shown to me by a jack fisherman from Northern NSW and he really opened my eyes up when that float disappeared in a mini explosion!
Dead baits can be just as good, however. A lightly weighted mullet fillet or half pilchard gently wafting in the current will attract serious attention. Fish with heavy set drags and be prepared to use your fingers; if you don’t stop them on the first run for cover you won’t get a second chance.
Personally, I enjoy chasing jacks on artificials more than anything else. Using small hardbodied lures or plastics as I silently drift down my chosen set of snags is something I will never tire of.
With the heat comes the golden snapper, locally called fingermark bream. This month the bigger fish will enter the channel from the numerous headlands and islands they call home.
Fingermark can be caught on baits or lures but they seem to prefer areas that have rocks as the main source of structure, or snags that have rocky areas in the vicinity. Also look for them in the deeper sections of creeks or holes in the channel. Keeping a good eye on the sounder will give away their location.
These fish are suckers for live herring and squid. Unfortunately, squid can be difficult to get a hold of, but you’ll find that two herring pinned back-to-front will usually get demolished by a hungry fingermark if they are about. The incoming tide always seems to fish better for fingermark and they can be caught in good numbers if they are schooled up.
Fingermark are slow growing fish, so please resist the urge to keep more than you need for a feed. Any angler who has caught one over 70cm will understand what an amazing fish they really are.
Water temps are higher, so to get better results you should start fishing deeper.
Trout are a species that will change feeding patterns according to the water temperature. in November you should fish for them in depths of 30m or deeper.
Your positioning is very important when fishing for trout. Just finding a good bommie isn’t good enough to consistently catch them. Anchoring upcurrent from the area you hope to fish and feeding your baits with the current into the front of the bommies will see plenty more trout in the icebox.
Good fresh baits or small livebaits are the secret to getting into quality fish, and recently I’ve been spending more time jigging up livies to maximise my chances of getting trophy fish.
The summer months are also great times to target XOS GTs on poppers around low tide on the reefs. All reefs have resident GT but Britomart and Rib reefs are my favourites. They regularly see us go home with depleted tackle boxes and sore arms!
You can popper the reefs at any stage but the last few hours before low, when the water is draining off the reef edges, is when the fireworks really happen. Using long casts to the edge will see better results as it means you are not spooking the fish. The presence of GTs normally mean very scared baitfish, and they will be easy to track down.
Because it’s getting hot up in the tropics, it’s worth heading out for a night trip to avoid the scorching sun. A night trip will see plenty of big reds in the form of nannygai and emperor from the deep. Anchoring up on your mark as the sun sets and deploying some large baits to the bottom always gets the heart beating.Reads: 604