Last month cyclone Gillian loitered for over a week and brought good rain and wind. Gale force northwesterlies buffeted most parts of the coast at some stage during her stay, really stirring things up and keeping most fishing to a minimum.
The erratic movement of both Gillian and Hadi showed just how unpredictable tropical storms can be. Direction, speed and predicted movements changed a lot – almost hourly – and the Bureau of Meteorology really had their work cut out with updating track maps to notify those in the possible paths.
It really does pay to have a emergency and survival kit ready to go at all times, as well as a plan of attack in and around your house if a cyclone is barrelling down on you. Get started before cyclone season hits, and do a yard clean up during the build up to the wet. The next step is to decide what you’ll do with your vehicle, boat and other prized possessions to keep them as safe and undamaged as possible if a cyclone should hit.
On the fishing front it hasn’t all been doom and gloom, with all the wet season usual syspects making an appearance. Steady catches of grunter were made throughout March, with the best spots being Gongbung Point, both ends of the Mission Bridge and off Cullen Point at Mapoon. These fish move into the estuaries to escape the northwest swell in the Gulf and to feed on the annual wet season run of prawns. The juveniles make the lower parts of the estuaries home until they are big enough to move offshore and continue their life journey.
It goes without saying that prawns are the pick of the baits to use to catch a grunter while small plastics and soft vibes can work really well when some ground needs to be covered to find the fish. Match either of those with an early morning or late arvo run-out tide and you won’t be far from a succulent meal of these inshore grazers.
Barra have started to become more predictable, and some really nice fish have been taken. The numbers aren’t high but several reports have included stories of fish over 1m being both caught and lost.
The late afternoon run-offs have been the best times to target a barra, with those anglers committed to fishing into the evening reaping the rewards. Creeks and gutters near big mud flats have seen the most action, while the Mission Bridge continues to produce some nice fish.
The barra fishing should really begin to pick up through April as wet season water levels recede and daytime low tides become the norm. While good fish can be taken on high water there is no doubt that a lower tide is one of the best times to target barra. New snags can be found and fished while creek mouths, colour changes and gutters all come into their own at the bottom end of the tide.
Because the water usually still has plenty of colour in it during April I like to use lures, both hardbodies and plastics, with some colour in them. Fluoros, golds and dark stripes coupled with slightly larger lures will give your offering plenty of presence in the discoloured water.
If the weather settles right down in April nearly all types of fishing should go off. Light to moderate southeasterlies will clear the inshore waters along the coast and really open up the options available – although one last burst of the monsoon may have something to say about that!Reads: 466