Fickle feeding phenomenon
  |  First Published: May 2014

The days shorten and the mornings become crisp with a hint of chill in the air. It’s time to set the alarms and mix in early morning land-based sessions between powerwalks up Castle Hill or strolls along the strand.

This time of the year brings about a southeasterly trade-wind change, which in turn allows inshore areas to become gin clear. The jelly prawns became evident through mid March and April, causing feeding behaviours from fickled species such as barramundi, king salmon, mangrove jack and golden trevally, just to name a few.

May is the time to tune in on this phenomenon. The large morning tides see local beaches and headlands such as the rock pool, casino break wall, Toolakea and Balgal beaches carrying the pink tinge of jelly prawn, and subsequently causing fish to feast like never before. Techniques must be refined and a thoughtful approach used. For those clear waters, scale down presentations to small, lightly weighted plastics and hand-tied bucktail jigs coupled with light quality fluorocarbon leaders, such as Sunline FC Rock in 10-20lb.

Another approach is to cast something bright, loud or totally different of what they are feeding on, looking for a reaction strike where attention and predatory instinct take over. This technique is particularly handy when fishing large flooding tides in small creek mouths where rolling barramundi, jacks and king salmon gorge on jelly prawn. This results in colour changes and was demonstrated in a recent session comprising of multiple jacks and barramundi.

Inshore rivers, creeks and headlands have seen the usual suspects, such as barramundi, golden snapper, jacks and salmon on most angler’s catch cards. Reports have been quite steady over the last month however, most likely the lack of rainfall being the influencing factor for mediocre reports.

A versatile technique that has been gaining the most success is presenting small plastics tight to structure via a weedless rig. A relative new product to our region, although not in the Rockhampton area, is the Hypo-Headz jighead. Developed by Darren from Lethal Lures, the concept allows an extremely snag-resistant presentation, but still allowing maximum movement through the plastics and ridiculously good hook up rates via his swing-jig design. By correctly pairing the weight, hook size and plastic, fish that are notorious for holding tight in structure have a better chance of extraction during heavy-handed close quarter battles when using Hypo Headz. Darren’s handy work has developed a cult-like following.

With cooler conditions building, it will be worth heading out to Maggie and Shark shoals as school size mackerel will be showing up in good numbers. Trolling fresh rigged baits such as gar on wog heads and wolfies on chin rigs should see good numbers of these fish boated. Ensure you are aware of the three fish bag limit per person on Spanish mackerel, this will bring more than enough fresh fish home via their high yield.

When actively trolling keep your eyes open for bottom anomalies such as ledges, humps and wonky holes. These grounds also hold trophy size red emperor, largemouth nannygai and monster cod. If you feel like adding some colour to the esky, feed these fish large oily flesh baits, you will generally be guaranteed to see serious drag screaming action on board!

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