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Wicked Winter
  |  First Published: August 2014



The winter chill has finally hit us with some crazy cool mornings heading well south under the 10°C mark. This has had locals digging for long lost winter woolies.

Being the last winter month, most keen anglers are now tuned on the winter species both inshore and offshore; this will most likely remain in play until the end of the month when the warmth of September and spring creep back.

Reports indicate that mackerel are thick and fast, school sized fish holding on bait schools around shoals, wrecks and current lines off our local reefs. Cape Cleveland is producing some better numbers of the giant Spanish mackerel of over 20kg, most being taken on fresh five spot gar of late, however a nicely rigged wolf herring is always handy if these are able to be sourced. I have herd of some using whole legal doggy and spotted macks rigged to swim, a bait that is definitely targeting the super sized end of the scale!

The billfish have been in promising numbers, both small blacks and good sized sailfish appearing amongst the spread regularly for those game fishermen. Lures like those made by Peter Pakula are a great option and have been accounting for plenty especially for those newcomers to the game. However it pays to be versatile in the approaches as changes in behaviour may require other techniques such as teasing and switching or use of downriggers and more advanced techniques. A few dolphin fish have also been caught on the back of some clean water coinciding with smart placement of live baits down the spread.

The reefs have been producing some cracking trout and red throat emperor, with the pick being Loadstone and Broadhurst reefs. Those venturing towards the shelf are still tangling with solid red emperor as well as some green and rosy jobfish being a tasty bi-catch.

Local creeks and rivers have cleared up and chilled down. Around the high tide when the water is clear and green, balls of herring and gar have been mobbed by doggie mackerel at the mouths of these larger systems. Bag limits are quite achievable in mere minutes. These fish are quite annoying if presenting expensive soft vibes or hard bodes to fish sounding below the dense bait congregations.

The barramundi have been relatively quite this month, with the odd big fish being reported; more likely fish of between 50-65cm have been tangled with in recent times.

Flathead have been ridiculously thick, sometimes seeming to replace the barramundi in snags that were once a given. Good sized fish towards the 70-80cm mark have been recorded throwing prawn imitations and well weighted soft plastics in pressure points of the tide.

Solid grunter has also been reported in our local systems such as the Haughton and Morrissey, Brittany Sossai showing the quality available with a cracking specimen of 65cm recently.

The urban areas of are a great places to duck out for a few hours at night on a making tide. The areas of the lakes, harbour breakwalls and Ross Creek are great locations to tangle with the winter run of large yellow fin bream. The trick with these fish is to throw lightly weighted plastics such as gulp curl tails paired with ultra light leaders allowing subtle presentations. A nice light tipped graphite rod is also a must. Most North Queenslanders have a chuckle at bream fishers of the southern boundaries and beyond, but they are a fun sports fish when using light gear, with some of these fish making greater than 40cm long.

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