Festive season fish ringing the bell
  |  First Published: December 2013

As another year passes by we can reflect on some great captures that have come our way, and other fish that we have witnessed fellow anglers land. Keeping your finger on the pulse and continuing to fish right until the end of the year can pay dividends, with some ideal conditions throughout December to produce the goods. As is usually the case in North Queensland, there are plenty different fish species to target and keep your casting arm busy.

Christmas crabbing

It is a well-known fact that you can’t get a happier North Queensland fisherman than one with a few beers and a couple of full crabs to get through. This is especially true in the festive month of December, when everyone who owns a few crab pots is busy baiting them up and leaving them to soak for a few days throughout the month in the hope of some tasty Christmas bucks.

There are a few tips to increase your chances of getting a few crabs. Using the right bait and dropping them in the right area are both important points to consider, so lets look at those factors more closely.

Most people agree that fresh bait is always best, but what kind of bait should you use? It’s an interesting subject, and everybody has their favourite “never fail’ baits to use. Fish frames are probably the most commonly used mud crab bait, and for good reason – they are durable and long lasting while also leaving plenty of scent in the water. Creek fish such as mangrove jacks, grunter and salmon are ideal choices. There are also some good options available from tackle stores, with mullet heads the best choice due to their size and toughness.

When you are up the creek or river it’s easy to spot locations that the crabs like best. Just look for areas that have plenty of mangroves and smaller side creeks that are shaded and have a reasonable depth.

Giving the pots a good amount of time in the water also helps. The tidal movement shifts the crabs around as they actively look for their next meal, so patience is they key sometimes.

The legal size for a mud crab is 15cm across the carapace, and you cannot take females. There is a bag limit of 10 per person and you are allowed four pots per person, which have to be marked with your name and address.

Inshore and rivers

December is a top time to be fishing the rivers. With the barra off limits you can put your full focus on other species and get quality results.

Grunter get targeted by many baitfishers, and these tasty fish can be caught in both top quality and quantity when fishing the right area. River mouths are ideal spots because the current that they receive acts like a fish highway for grunter to travel and feed through. Larger baits are the go for big grunter, with whole squid and garfish slabs working great at the moment. You’ll want to fish around the two hours either side of the high tide, because that’s when the most action is happening at the moment. The current stirs the fish up and they head out searching for a nice feed.

We are now in the busiest time of year with everyone sharing our waterways, so it is important to work together so we can all have a good time. Being patient goes a long way, and if we only keep what we need for a feed we’ll ensure great fishing for many years to come.

If you are travelling anywhere have a safe trip, and I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

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