The open barra season brought all forms of anglers out to test their skills against our iconic sports fish.
My day consisted of a mixture of work commitments and a visit to some favourite land-based haunts. While avoiding the flying Gold Bombers and Slick Rigs from the dozen anglers at my once relatively un-pressured hot spot, I managed to pick up a couple of sub-legal fish away from the crowd before throwing the towel in, while at the same time marvelling at the results of loose lips and its explosion of angling pressure.
Switched-on local anglers had more luck when they found hungry fish in the 60-80cm class willing to accept well placed offerings in filthy water due to the king tides, showing that adaptability to conditions is the key to success.
Good reports came from all areas of the region with the more southern systems claiming their fair share of catches, including the Haughton and Crocodile creeks. The northern and somewhat harder to access Cattle Creek maintained its name as a quality destination.
Fish have been taken on a mixture of techniques, including trolling, live baiting and casting hardbodied lures close to those structures breaking the current and providing a rest stop for the fish as they moved with the tide. Captures of king threadfin salmon were also well received with their white flesh preferred by many over the mighty barramundi.
With most eyes on the creeks, rivers and headlands, a few breaks in the weather between cyclones and rain squalls saw catches of red emperor and coral trout adorn the decks of boats where anglers were keen for the higher quality table fare. Reefs, including Chicken and John Brewer, were discussed in reports showing that those both far and near had produced the goods.
With the scattered rains and resulting freshwater gave our creeks a flush to some degree. It is a perfect time for anglers to look towards the inshore shoals and headlands to chase the trophy golden snapper that call it home. Most will find success in the wee hours of the morning where these superb sport and table fish can be targeted via a plethora of techniques.
For bait fishers, live squid or fresh herring baits are hard to beat. Anchorage on a good showing of bait in the right country is a good way to achieve the desired results.
For those who are more inclined to use artificial presentations, a mixture of Gulps, large blades, soft vibes, rattlers and small jigs are a good start.
Start by locating some nice rubble bottoms with good shows of fish and bait and, try the drift approach. Be aware sometimes multiple passes are required to gain a response. Another common technique is to find solid structure and a good show of fish, with the deployment of a GPS enabled electric motor suspending the boat at the perfect position against wind and tide.
Fantastic research done by Fishers NT recently found that barotrauma due to fishing in depths greater than 10m increased mortality rates in golden snapper. Keep this in mind and remember that these fish are slow growing, and susceptible to over fishing. By reducing pressure, stocks will be healthy for years to come.Reads: 615