In the heart of summer most people in the north hibernate in the air-conditioning in an attempt to escape the suppressive heat and humidity. Those anglers in the know however recognise these conditions as being prime fishing time as the extra heat and added humidity send the creek and reef fish into a hungry frenzy.
It’s no secret that predatory fish like mangrove jack in the creeks and coral trout over the reef really come on the chew in summer and the hotter it is the better. While the oppressive conditions do take their toll on the angler, it can definitely be worth the effort to battle the climate especially when trophy sized fish are on offer.
In the creeks, I love January because the fish, especially the jacks, bite with so much extra aggression. These red fish are not shy or timid this time of year and will not hesitate to leave their snags to smash a lure. They don’t take a lot of convincing either and casts close enough to the strike zone are usually good enough to see action.
Soft plastic lures usually get smashed on the drop this time of year so make sure you remain tight to your lure at all times or you will find that the fight is over before you were even in it. This is why I prefer to fish hardbodies this time of year as it allows for a little bit more directness to the fight and gives you a little bit more control of the lure in the first couple of winds. This is especially the case for mangrove jack who will typically maul you on the first couple of winds.
When the fish are this hungry and pumped up, you really need to step up the gear and having the right stuff, in particular line and leader, is essential. Firstly you want a braid that is strong yet light and thin enough to provide support in casting.
Braid has always been a big plus to accurate casting but not all are the same and some of the better quality line offers thinner diameters, which really allow those lures to go where you want them to.
Leader material is just as important and a quality fluorocarbon that is abrasive enough to contact a bit of timber and not snap, as well as provide a near invisible presentation, will go a long way to snaring big jacks. If you’re after a match to this criteria it is hard to go past Sunline and once you tie it on it will speak for itself.
With the barra season still closed this month there are plenty of other species to target up the creek. One that is quickly making a name for itself as a viable target species on lure is the grunter. 2013 has been the best year yet for big grunter in the creeks right through Bowen and they have started to become a common catch for those chucking hard and soft lures. The trick is to fish light, especially on the leader (I use 16lb FC Sniper), and to use very small twitches with not a lot of retrieve. While I have caught more on fish patterns than prawn patterns, I think this twitch retrieve brings about a prawn style action that really fires the fish up. Whatever it is when you hook one be ready for the surprise of your life as they fight as hard as a golden snapper and smash a lure just as hard as a jack. I have been snaring them on Z-Man DieZels and Delalande Busta Shads mostly and if you haven’t scored one yet they are definitely worth targeting on lures in January.
Out on the blue water my favourite species is the GT and they will be climbing all over top water offerings in summer. The extra run in the tide brings these fish into an almost chaotic frenzy and when conditions are right, and those big summer tides pump in, it becomes a case of hang on and hope you have enough drag.
Top spots to target these fish include the corners of islands where current and bait are present as well as artificial structures like jettys and pylons. Thankfully Bowen has a plethora of both these areas and working a few poppers or stick baits even around the inshore islands will produce fish. I must stress though, make sure you are packing the right gear or else you really are just donating tackle to these grey beasts.
Next month it will all be about the barra. The biggest influence on the fishing will be the wet and usually February is the start of the big down pours in Bowen. The fish will still be around but you will need to find the cleaner water to get a bite both inshore and offshore. The start of the run-off can be a pain to fish but it also brings the biggest fish so make sure all the big 130mm lures are ready as this is what the big barra will be after.Reads: 715