As I looked at the packed boat ramp I noticed everyone was constantly staring at their watches. There is constant chatter and everyone seems excited to get out on the water, baitcasters and spinning rods matched with Gold Bombers and paddle-tail plastics are rigged and ready.
At exactly 11.45am boats slide into the water and take off up the channel and at midday the first casts of the barra open season are fired out into the snags or drains in hope of that silver assassin, the mighty barramundi.
It has been a very uneventful wet season so far, which comes as no surprise, so the barra breeding season has really not happened. I believe the closed season needs modifications to suite the usual late wet season we get here in FNQ.
Barra are on top of the list and plenty of hours will be spent in chasing this iconic fish.
The Hinchinbrook Channel has so much water that it is hard to decide where to start fishing, for visitors it is important to not get overwhelmed and instead concentrate your efforts in a particular spot. I can assure you that there are barra to be caught in every creek, sand flat or mud bank. What is important is to plan your day so less time is spent looking for fish and more time fishing.
Barra can be a frustrating fish and what works one day will not get a look the next. The amount of times we have had amazing sessions and then the very next day using the same technique in the same spot you don’t see a fish. But for those wanting to have the best chance of catching a barra just put together the essential pieces of the puzzle: tide/time and baitfish.
All good barra spots will have structure in the form of snags such as fallen trees and rocks or abnormalities in sand or mud banks such as drains. Find these areas that are holding baitfish and you are in with a good chance of getting barra.
For lure fishing the last half of the run-out tide is normally the best and for bait fishing I find the first few hours of the run-in tide sees better bites.
As barra take the spotlight it is easy to forget that the mighty mangrove jack will be chomping their way through anything that moves. Do yourself a favour and head up the creeks on a humid night and be prepared to do battle. I can still hear the snapping of jaws from last year echoing in my mind, along with shaking arms as I cast the little popper into the blackness.
Golden snapper will also be about. Fishing the holes in creeks and the rock-lined edges of Hinchinbrook Island with live herring should get you some action.
Getting out in the afternoon for a jetty session is a smart option and will lighten your tackle box and stretch your arms at the same time.
The big thug GT are waiting for an easy meal and lobbing poppers into the maze of pylons always gets the heart beating and the arms shaking. There are also some big golden snapper down there ready and willing to smash your bait or plastic. The Gulp Nemesis is a deadly plastic for golden snapper; fish the jetty as the sun rises matched with an incoming tide using this plastic.
The reef is hit or miss lately and plenty of people are being left frustrated after long sessions in the intense heat yielding few results. The best results are coming from the deep and trout spots in 40m+ are the go.
Some good red emperor are being caught, mostly at night and by those who know the spots.
Nannygai are about in numbers and plenty of bigger models are being caught in the closer spots.
The summer months are great for cobia and reef points, such as Bramble and Britomart, will be hot spots. Cobia will eat nearly anything when in the mood but for best results live bait will rarely be ignored. Fish a livie under a float or with a small sinker, and a little berley should see them come up and swim around the boat. When this happens it is easy to sneak a plastic into the berley trail and watch it get engulfed. Cobia are very easily mistaken for sharks so have a good look before you cut your line.
Around the Palm Islands the fishing can be tough for reef fish but the northern blue (longtail) tuna and the GT can provide plenty of fun and games for those wanting sportsfishing at its best. Feeding live hussar to GT schooled up under the boat is always a spectacular sight and trying to survive the power run back to the bottom will leave the back sore to say the least.
February should see the real start of the wet here in FNQ so let’s see what Mother Nature brings us. As always, stay keen...mad keen!Reads: 689