Smoking drags in the cold
  |  First Published: July 2014

Slowly creeping closer to the pylons, my eyes never left the sounder as clear white streaks filled the screen. The Sidescan was revealing a thick school of fish sitting about 5m off the structure and 7m down (I love technology!) A quick flick and the 5” Z-Man StreakZ was slowly drifting through the water column. As it settled on the bottom, a rip of the rod and some quick winds had it on its way to meet its destiny. Sure enough, smack – I was on!

It is no secret that Lucinda is close to sportfishing heaven in the cooler months of the year, and coming into July the mackerel, queenfish and GTs are in full feeding mode. For those anglers who have the need for speed, now is the time to hit the water and hang on!

Hinchinbrook Channel

Crystal clear water and plenty of bait is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to fishing the channel. It is quite easy to get bait, especially herring and gar, but finding feeding fish to throw them at can be quite difficult.

It is now a game of patience with the barra; plenty of hours and smart thinking is needed to bring home a few for a feed. They are still there but as I have written before you really want to pick your times of day and tides carefully to give yourself the best chance. Think warmer water and colour changes (variations) with good baitfish in attendance. I do a lot more slow trolling in the cold for barra and believe that if you hit them on the head for long enough they will eventually swipe at a lure.

Both the king threadfin salmon and blue salmon show up in better numbers in July, and they can be caught in huge numbers if you’re lucky enough to be in the right spot. The blue salmon will use big incoming tides to push up creeks, feeding along the way. Oh, the fun of watching dozens of salmon chasing your offering in a feeding frenzy that would do a pack of GTs proud!

For those anglers fishing with bait, any creek entrance mixed with live or fresh herring or prawns should see you in with a good shot. Blue salmon can sometimes suffer from worms in the flesh but if eaten fresh they are generally pretty good (they don’t freeze well).

King threadfin are more difficult to find consistently but they tend to hang more in the actual channel and on the edges of sand banks that they will feed over. Quality electronics will help you to find them. Threadfin will eat most bait, alive and dead, and love to smash lures, plastics and vibes. They are spectacular eating and most locals rate them better then barra.

Golden snapper (fingermark) are also about, and fishing live herring on a dark moon night with neap tides will have some rods bending. These fish can be found holding in creek holes and snags during winter so keep in mind any snags that are sitting in deep water near creek mouths. Golden snapper love Gulps, so if you have not given them a go now is the time.

Bread and butter fishing for the bream and whiting using peeled prawns or pumped yabbies is a very enjoyable way to spend a few hours. There’s no need to launch a boat, just walk the sand banks or travel to Taylors Beach and have a flick. This is simple fishing that is family friendly. The humble flathead will get into the action over the coming months as well, and beer-battered flathead fillets are amazing.

Jetty, Islands and Reef

Due to persistent winds over winter there is not much to report from the reef. Weather windows have been very short, but it’s something we just have to accept as normal at this time of year.

Those boats that have managed to get out have found mackerel in great numbers. The Palm Islands, shoals and reef points have plenty of Spaniards about, and they are feeding up and getting ready to spawn. Spotties are being caught on the rocky points and bays off Hinchinbrook and there have been captures off the fishing jetty and in the channel.

Nannygai are always about as well, and there are some thumpers hanging about out in the shipping lane for those with good marks. A few trout are also being caught around the Palm islands. Fishing good fresh baits into deeper bommies will see you with a chance.

The sugar loader jetty is the place to be for sportfishing nuts like me. The queenfish are stacked up and hungry, and if the weather allows it can provide hours of entertainment. I recently was lucky enough to get Scotty Hillier and some boys from BCF out for a jetty session for his show Creek to Coast, and we got some great footage of queenies doing their thing with double hooks-ups and line-burning, jumping fish. By far the stand-out queenie catchers have been the Z-Man StreakZ and the Berkley Ripple Shads. When rigged on a 1/2oz-3/4oz jighead and worked quickly, both these plastics have been getting smashed. I just wish I had a way of retrieving my gear after getting smoked through the pylons! It’s expensive fishing at times but so very addictive!

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