It’s Raining Fish
  |  First Published: December 2008

Summer is well and truly here with the humidity in the high nineties and storm clouds frequently brewing. When the big wet season rains arrive we can expect some sensational fishing around town. But remember there is still another month to wait before the barra are back on the wish list so do yourself a favour and let them breed unmolested so as to make this year better than the previous with more fingerlings in the water.

The best news to come out of the creeks is the large number of quality king salmon being caught. Classic ten footers trolled over snags or the good old Rattlin Spot jigged have been the undoing of plenty of metre long salmon but the humble live prawn is still the number one choice for anglers wishing to catch one of these bruisers. Expect a fast running fight with plenty of direction changes and an almost shark-like fight to get your fish to the boat. Resist the urge to bust off what you think is a shark or cattie just in case.

When we get some good rain the weirs and the dam wall are always an exciting spectacle for fisherman with floodwaters pouring out into the bay. This is normally a good sign of the fishing to come. But it also kicks off the prawn and crabbing by flushing them out of the creeks and into the bay. Most crabbers will set their pots on the flats from Sandfly to roughly Cocoa Creek.

Be aware of the tides as some of the shallower flats can drain quickly and leave you and your pots stuck out in the hot sun. By all means leave your pots in overnight as there is next to no heat for the crabs to dry out in but if you are crabbing during the day don’t leave them in shallow areas that will dry out on the low tide – it is a waste of your time and energy if you kill the crabs by leaving the pot in the sun. The most popular baits at the moment are chicken frames or pig’s heads; these can be easily obtained from your local butcher.

If the creeks around town are flowing hard with freshwater expect the fishing to be a little slow, as most of our northern species don’t like full fresh water. Head outside the creek mouth and look for rocks, headlands, reefs and wrecks. These types of structures should be out of the main freshwater flow and have a good mix of saltwater around them. There should also be plenty of creek species holding up here until the flow of water subsides. A really good example of this is the rock walls around the Townsville harbour and even west point over on Magnetic Island. Both of these areas tend to provide good cover for creek fish during heavy flooding.

Further a field; the island groups north of town will also fish well providing you can find clean water. Coral trout and Spanish mackerel will still be feeding in these areas but both prefer the cleaner water, which can be hard to find on inshore islands like Rattle Snake so you may need to be over fishing the Palm group on smaller tides.

The reefs further out again will hold the best fishing for January. Lodestone and Keeper reefs are receiving plenty of boat traffic and as a result may not fish as well as say the Slashers, Hopkinsons or even the Kelso reefs. At this time of year bag limits are easily reached on a variety of reef species. Please take only what you need.

If the rains have not really started yet fishing should still be worth the effort. Big jacks and fingermark will be holding on the snags in most creeks and grunter will cover the rubble pads and shell grit areas during the tops of the tides. Crabs will be well up in the mangroves waiting for the flush. Outside squid will be easy to find with the use of artificial light and a fine mesh scoop, remember wherever there is squid big fingermark will not be far behind.

My tip for the land-based anglers is Pallarenda. Here you can catch trophy queenfish from the beach. There are also grunter, trevally, salmon and bream. The best method to use is live gar fished under a float over the shallow sand and rocks and make sure you have plenty of line as the length of their runs can be surprising. If you can’t get livies or you’re not interested in chasing queenies try mullet strips on a running rig to tempt some of the more popular table fish.

There are two things that I hope to be able to inform readers about for next month. The first is the response from the Queensland Minister for Fisheries in relation to fingermark being targeted by commercial netters. The other is the progress of my boat, which right is still not on the water. Everything from snapped spark plugs during the service to electrical problems and humidity holding up carpet laying and painting have me almost ready to pull my hair out. But hey it is a brand new year and my resolution was not to lose my temper as much… serenity now, serenity now, serenity now.

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