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SEEING BLUE WHILE THE FITZROY WAITS FOR RAIN
  |  First Published: August 2014



The cooler July temps have fired up the blue salmon into schooling right along the Capricorn Coast.

This much-targeted species hangs mainly along the beaches and the bigger creek mouths. They also follow any of the coastal bait schools giving them a hammering at spots like Ross Creek and Rosslyn Bay Harbour.

There are quite a few schools of greenback and yorky herring doing the rounds at present and this is where the salmon will be. Apart from herring, yabbies and pilchards are great baits for blue salmon.

Coorooman Creek is a going great this month for salmon. The sandbanks and along the timbers as usual is the place to be. The Causeway, Ross Creek and Barwell’s Creek can all hold quantities of blues. A top spot is Rosslyn Bay Harbour where they congregate in the harbour entrance and along the inside walls. Right up the beach past Big Dune to the deeper gutters near the mouth of Corio Bay are other known hotspots. Blues prefer a bit of run in the water and will hang just below breaking waves in the white water.

Yabbies, yorkies, prawns and pillies are the baits of choice. Flashers and wobblers are probably next in line and can bring on a bite on a slow day.

I always mention rainfall and fresh flow in regard to the local fishing on the Capricorn Coast and The Fitzroy River. Because of the unique layout of the river, bay and islands, the amount of fresh pushing down the river can have a significant influence over what fish will come into Keppel Bay or bypass it altogether.

The most affected are the pelagics and reefies, which require the higher salinity waters. The wet years are a bonus for the estuary fishers as barra and mud crabs don’t ever slow down but the mackerel guys have to travel large distances to get any sort of catch.

The dry years are completely opposite, with pelagics and reefies coming right up into the bay in big numbers. This year is the driest we have had for a while and the results are showing. Almost every time the wind drops and the conditions are good the mackerel flood into all the close spots like years gone by.

Doggies, spotties and Spanish remain in quantity pretty well all around the local waters. In the past week or two several locals have bagged out on Spaniards at Findlay’s or Forty Acre Paddock, something that hasn’t happened for a long time. The mackerel spots out from Keppel Sands and out wider continue to work well. Spotties will grow in numbers over the month towards the bottom end of the bay and by mid next month, we should have scored some quality and quantity. Spots are one of the favourite fish for many anglers around here because they come in very close where the guys with small boats can get to them from the beaches and 5 fish each is the limit, don’t risk keeping any more.

Mack tuna and the bait schools of bonito and ribbonfish keep turning up so mackerel baits won’t be a problem for the near future.

The normal slowing of the southeasters gives the local waters a chance to clear up making it much more inviting to the travelling fish from bait size to the larger pelagics. The westerlies may stop the bite for a while except for the closer in areas under the wind curtain, which hits the water roughly 2/3 of the way to the islands. The better locations over the westerly are Ironpot, Rita Mada, Farnborough, Corio Heads, Stockyard Point, Quartz Rock and Cape Manifold.

Some very large black king (cobia) have followed the bait schools into a few of the shallow lesser mackerel grounds. It blows you out when you peg out a floating pilly meant for a doggy on 6-8kg line and a big sharky-looking bugger smashes it and heads for deeper parts. We usually get the summer runs through the area but when the bait is plentiful they will turn up any time.

I like live-baiting cobes, particularly when they are sniffing up your berley trail like a pack of dogs. They will spot a small livey and all change direction towards it at the same time almost shouldering each other out of the way to get there first. Cobia are usually hard work for the amount of return you get and for that reason we move to another spot after 1 or 2 fish make the kill bin. They will also take squid or big strip baits sometimes and then surprise you by nailing a small Fasher or Taipan.

The best part of a cold winter here is snapper. We don’t get the same opportunities that the southern anglers get so we have to time it right and hope that the weather cooperates.

Forty Acre, Ross’s Reef, Sunken Reef (Conical), Outer, Man and Wife, Greasy Alley and the rubble patches wide of the islands have all reported snapper in the last couple of weeks and providing the water temps continue to be on the cool side, they should stick around.

Lightly weighted pillies or fresh flesh strips are very good baits, although big prawns have been the secret bait in one of the local snapper chasers (he doesn’t even share them with the deckies). The lighter you can go and still reach the bottom the better. Try anchoring 20-30 metres further back just so you can keep the noise away from the fish. They all say that being ultra quiet, sneaking into the spot and letting out a fine chopped pilly berley slowly will bring the fish closer to the boat. Reds, nannies, trout, jobbies, trevally and grunter are other offshore species going strong this month giving us plenty of options.

The Fitzroy is all over the place as the salt levels have risen so much in the town reaches that many species normally only found towards the mouth have made their way up into the middle of Rockhampton. Grunter, flathead, jew and even golden snapper have made it almost to the 400m mark. Barramundi, however, have slowed quite a bit except on the warmer days where they get a bit active.

All the estuaries have been flathead city, particularly around the mouths of the creeks and the channels heading to the mouth. The smaller baits in the creeks have meant that to score fish regularly on lures we have had to drop down in size or two. The little tiny bream lures are getting a run in different country. The other notable change for us has been the colours. I usually use natural to pearly white with a lot of success in the clearer water and bright fluoro on the dirty channel run offs. Lately, gold has been working great when the fish are quiet.

As usual, flatties will go on livies and fresh flesh strips or pillies. I just find that we can cover so much more country with lures when the fish aren’t where they should be.

Bream, whiting, cod, steelback, king salmon and queenfish are on the chew at present and the odd barra if you’re lucky.

Muddies have finally slowed down as expected although it is worth dropping a pot on the way to your spot and collecting it on the way home.

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