Bring on a brand new year
  |  First Published: December 2013

A brand new year and something tells me that 2014 will be full of bent rods, melting drags and plenty of stories to tell.

I was looking back through the fishing diary for the year that just passed and although not every trip was a success I learnt plenty and look forward to keeping records of this coming year. Plenty of very good anglers have talked about keeping records and, for good reason, it is a very powerful angler learning tool. So read on and let’s see what a new year will bring in Tropical North Queensland and the fishing paradise that is Lucinda.

Hinchinbrook Channel

The fishing in the Channel is controlled by the wet season and how much rain we get. If there is plenty of rain and flooding then the channel will be running hard and dirty and fishing becomes very tough.

Nevertheless, it is not all doom and gloom if this happens as it has plenty of advantages; it makes the fish go crazy after it all settles down and for the barra it means perfect breeding conditions.

I’m not the only one hoping for a big wet this year as last year was pretty dry and the barra fishing through 2013 showed with patchy results.

A game plan for those wanting to fish the channel when it is running dirty is to get good live and fresh bait and run right up the channel to escape the brown freshwater. Heading up into Benjamin flats and creeks, such as Deluge or Sunday, will give you much better water coloration.

The jacks will be chopping trees down just to sharpen their teeth during January. They are a great fish to target as they seem to get more aggressive and feed actively during the rain and wind.

Golden snapper are also very active during summer and the rocky areas that the Hinchinbrook Channel has in abundance will have them hanging about in good numbers. Again, good live bait, such as herring will put fish in the boat. Also fingers love smashing plastics and jigs so if you find good shows on the sounder then it is well worth trying these techniques.

Reef and Islands

If there is plenty of flood water pushing out of the channel then stopping at the Sugar Loader jetty for some fun and games should be on everybody’s list. Turning up at high tide and fishing while the line of dirty water pushes out along the jetty can trigger amazing sessions. In fact as I type this, I remember a session where I was sight casting to XL golden trevally hanging about in packs and after beating one, it was as simple as dropping the plastic straight into the face of another one. This continued until I couldn’t handle another one.

Big GT also love coming into the jetty to smash any bait that is pushed out of the channel with the run-off, so tighten those drags and hang on.

With plenty of fresh pushing fish out of the channel plenty of bait will head out and sit around the headlands and closer shoals and wrecks. This means the larger nannygai will be amongst them getting an easy feed, so don’t be surprised if a big one comes in and destroys you before you know what’s happened.

Cobia will also push in closer feeding up on the baitfish. Heading out to the Palm Islands and live baiting some deeper bommies could have you quick stepping around the boat.

The reef will be on fire, and not just the fishing. A flat day with no wind will get really hot; plenty of water and some shade will help you fish through the day. I suggest fishing a morning session and get home before the middle of the day. Or head out after lunch and fish the afternoon and evening session, just keep your eyes open for storms that can really give you a battering if you get caught out. About this time last year a terrible storm came through on a perfect night on a weekend with plenty of boats out and it was very lucky that no one got seriously injured or worst.

The reds will be on the bite and the trout will be about in good numbers. The secret is to be fishing at the time they will bite and that can be tricky. Plenty of times I have fished the morning for average results and talked to people that fished the afternoon and smashed them, but hey that’s fishing!

For those wanting to try something different out on the reef then seriously working plastics can have great results on a vast range of species. Big bludger trevally can be found in great numbers and dropping plastics into schools will put a smile on your face, trust me.

Trout are also suckers for plastics. Artificials, such as the Gulp 7” Jerkshad or the Squid Vicious, will get eaten by anything that swims on the reef.

Until next month stay keen, mad keen.

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