Hopefully when you’re reading this the Ross River weirs are flowing over with flood water! Monsoonal rain may shut down the creek fishing for a while, but the upside is that the fishing for the year is always better when we have a big wet so bring on the rains – even if it is the start of the barra season!
If the creeks and rivers are flowing with fresh water you can still find good fishing by changing your tactics and heading outside the creek mouths. During the wet, and well into the mild runoff period we have, you will find that almost all of the common creek species will still be feeding you just need to venture a little further outside into the salty water.
To the north of Townsville the Bohle and Black rivers dump into the top of Rowes Bay and can push quality fish over onto the western side of Magnetic Island. Places like Cockle and Bolger bays hold big schools of barra, jacks, grunter and many different pelagic species. The rocks at West Point are also a favourite big barra hang out as is the Pallarenda quarantine jetty for the land based fisho.
For those anglers restricted to a terra firma fishing platform I would also suggest you check out the base of all the weirs in Ross River as they will also fish well as barra try to find their way upstream. This is quite possibly one of the best situations in which to try your hand at flicking out a soft plastic. If you haven’t caught the bug already you will have after a hot session down the weir! Just check the local regulations in regard to fishing around weirs.
Inside Cleveland Bay itself you’ll find Ross River and a large number of smaller creeks pushing fresh water out into the bay. This will force the fish out to the cape with trophy fish found regularly out here during the floods. My favourite way to target these fish is using lures on top of the incoming tide - the bigger the better! Try using dark or black poppers in low light conditions and then as the sun gets up change to shallow divers with a nice loud rattle. Lures such as the Triho Min or gold Bomber are perfect for this style of fishing, using varied rates and twitches as they are retrieved over the shallow rocks and reefs. If the fish appear to be down deeper try trolling the cape with 8m plus lures such as RMGs or Storms.
Fish are not the only species to leave the creeks looking for salinity, crabs and prawns also find their way out into the bay. The flats from the mouth of Ross River to Cape Cleveland will crab very well during the flood and schools of prawn can also be found outside in the salt water.
Offshore, the fishing has been on fire with great mixed bags coming from almost all reefs. Davis, Centipede and Broadhurst have been the best according to local fishing reports but Keeper and Lodestone are still fishing well for trout during the day and reds at night. If you’re looking for a real challenge try working around the fusilier schools with big poppers or stick baits, they may not be the greatest eating fish up here but the giant trevally cruising the reefs at the moment will test your tackle to its limit.
Ever thought about taking on an army with only a sling shot to protect yourself? No, well spare a thought for the anglers on the front lines fighting for your right to fish. The new inshore finfish plan has been released for comment and some issues need to be raised by all anglers willing to fill in the consultation forms. I say willing, because history indicates that fisherman can be a pretty apathetic lot willing to let others fight for them.
If you are contemplating making your voice heard here are a few things to keep in mind.
Did you know that by letting low risk nets into dugong protection zones we would effectively be letting barramundi gill netting return to the Hinchinbrook channel and many other grass beds vital to north Queensland fishing tourism? On a side note, these netters were, not so long back, compensated to leave this fishery, do you think they will pay back all financial compensation they received? ;
What about the call for recreational anglers to only use one cast net at any one time? I would love for someone to show me how to throw more than one cast net at a time! Or do they mean only one in possession? Are we going to have to come home each time we need a change of net? That person working on inventing the cast net that quickly and simply converts from a 3/4 inch to a 1/2 inch and from a draw string to a top pocket and from mono to nylon to adjust to conditions and bait targets must be licking their lips!
Like most anglers I am quite willing to accept smaller bag limits, as well as, larger minimum sizes to improve the quality of our catches but what’s the point if these fish are only going to end up at the fish markets and not still out there breeding for the future? If any of this has made you react either for or against that’s great get to your local tackle store and pick up the forms to have your say now!
Wondering how we got to this point? To call a spade a shovel, much of this has come about by way of the lack of interest by the recreational sector at the public consultation meetings. The commercial fisherman’s association makes sure its members all turn up so as to have a big presence, they are well organised and well represented, we could most certainly take a leaf out of their book! Are you a member of SUNFISH or RECFISH the peak bodies for your sport? Why not? Petty reasonings such as ‘not liking’ the representative or thinking that it’s a waste of time are what has got us to this point. A place in time where green groups, commercial fisherman and the diving industry (all well organised) are having a larger say than us on our future! Bizarre when you consider we are by far the biggest user group.
Just what will it take to get you to start fighting for your right to fish?Reads: 1997