The mild start to winter has had local anglers scratching their heads, puzzled at the lack of the normal cold snaps which usually supply our region with the usual winter species in good numbers. Hopefully by the time you read this we’ve had more cold snaps, causing the winter species to show up in big numbers.
Local creeks have still been producing solid numbers of barra and jacks, with the schooling mentality usually associated with winter barra only just kicking off. Winter is as good a time as any for targeting those monster barra, with local anglers finding clusters of these in our local Cleveland and Bowling Green Bay, and associated rivers and creeks.
Relentless winds haven’t seen too many reports coming back from the reef and beyond. Reports from bigger boats, able to take on the 15-25s comfortably, have said that trout and red-throat emperor have been in good numbers in the shallower areas with a good rubble bottom and scattered bommies.
Around Magnetic island and Cleveland Bay, reports are still steady with good sessions producing school-sized Spanish mackerel to 10kg. Smatterings of 20kg+ fish are also being whispered about. More reports of these bigger fish should become frequent throughout this month, so keep an ear out.
The usual bycatch when mack fishing, namely tuna and GTs, have also been keeping arms stretched between Spaniards. Trolling has been getting the best results, with throwing metals around the pylons in the shipping channel another viable option, particularly for smaller vessels.
Further afield the shoals have been producing Spanish mackerel, tuna and better numbers of billfish. Bait congregations at the 30m mark have been the key, with focus on pressured bait balls often ‘columned’ in appearance by marauding marlin. Methods producing recently have been teasing and switching with live baits or simply trolling rigged small baits or small skirted lures such as Pakulas. With the fish being small early on, keep the hook size down to maintain better hook-ups, and stick to circle hooks where possible rather than the standard J design. This will make the fish easier to unhook, and increase their chances of survival. Be prepared for the odd large sailfish to jump on, so don’t go too under gunned if you can help it!
One of the benefits of trolling around the 30m mark is uncovering of some fantastic red grounds. Keep your eyes pealed for isolated lumps, as a drift on these are likely to produce good size red emperor or large-mouth nannygai (saddletail snapper). Fresh strip baits of tuna or mackerel or even live baits are definitely the choice for these bottom dwellers.
Back inshore, with our winter now apparently underway, better numbers of whiting, flathead and bream should keep those bread-and-butter anglers happy. The casino rock wall and Lakes area around Castletown are solid breaming locations, with the northern beaches being the pick when targeting flathead and whiting.
If the lure of monster barramundi is still too strong, have a sound around in systems like the Haughton, Crocodile and not to forget the Bohle River for congregated schools of barramundi. Equipment such as the Humminbird Sidescan units are top shelf, with schools quite easy to find.
While you’re fishing for barra, be prepared for winter runs of blue salmon. These fish are usually in better numbers through winter, and I have been told they are good on the BBQ fresh after a day of fishing, along with a suitable amber beverage of course!Reads: 640