January can be a very unpredictable month in our area, as our wet season heavy rains usually don’t hit until late in the month or early February, however, I have no doubt that January will have pouring rain!
Lead times over Christmas being what they are, this report will be a bit of a mixed bag with plenty of ‘ifs or buts’ but that is the problem when so many of our fishing opportunities rely on weather patterns that are notoriously unpredictable.
As of mid December there had not been widespread rain, but a few showers and small storm cells. These did not generate a lot of activity although there has been a small run of prawns. Those prawns sure stirred up the creek scene a bit, but we really need a widespread downpour to get the creeks flushing and promote prawn activity. Once the prawns are in abundance then the fish will be there, gorging on them.
The very hot and humid weather has got the mangrove jacks on the chew and good catches can be expected through January, and the jacks will continue to bite even if there is no prawn run. Some of our creeks seem to hold good numbers of jacks while others have much fewer numbers. North of the city, places like Constant, Victor, Murray and the creeks around St Helens all seem to have reasonable numbers, while to the south Rocky Dam creeks is probably the best pick.
Fishing the incoming tide onto rock bars, prominent snags and freshly downed mangroves with cut baits or livies drifted with the tide will soon have any jack in residence interested. Plastics rigged weedless can also be drifted with the tide right into the snags where hardbodied lures just don’t cut it, but on the bigger tides some extra weight may be needed to get the plastics down deep enough to interest the fish.
Any of the better-known plastics in either paddle-tail or curly-tail will work but rig them weedless on a decent worm hook or you will lose lots of lures. Squidgies, Tropic Angler, Reidys, Zmans, and Tsunamis all find a place in my plastics collection and any lure with some red seems to appeal. For the prawn style lures, use Prawnstars, Smash Baits, Zereks and similar offerings that can be either cast onto or drifted into the snags.
There should also be reasonable numbers of grunter around during January and if fishing the bigger tides, get right up on the mud or sand banks at the very top of the tide as they will forage up there for yabbies, small crabs and fish. Use yabbies, prawns, strip baits or small livies for the grunter and if fishing the smaller neaps chase them on any gravel bed on the incoming tide. Grunter will also hunt over the top of rock bars for small crabs near high tide. But if we have heaps of rain, grunter will be scarce, as they don’t like the really muddy fresh water inflow.
While they have traditionally been considered a bait only fish, many more grunter are now being caught on lures as anglers start experimenting. Soft plastics work a treat on them as do the smaller blades and the vibe baits that are catching just about everything these days. They key as always is to be lure fishing where the fish are feeding and the results will come.
Depending on the water clarity, the creeks will also produce a good run of flathead, while whiting and bream will be more of an incidental catch. Pikey bream will smack baits or lures drifted into snags aiming for jacks, and a decent pikey puts up a good fight and tastes great on the plate too.
The hot and humid weather has got the barra firing in the dams and competition is fierce in the trees between the sooties and barra. The more open and weedy areas of Kinchant Dam continue to give up truly massive barra and it seems bragging rights now belong to the over 120cm barra class. What a fishery when a mere 1m fish is considered a bit ‘ho-hum’! Kinchant is attracting more and more southern anglers as the word spreads about the massive barra that call it home.
Look for the barra around the weedy points either directly across from the resort or along the southwestern side and up towards the top of the dam, and on full moon be prepared for a queue up at the boat ramp. Soft plastics are probably the most used lure and black and gold Slick Rigs are a must have. I like surface fishing at Kinchant either with large Z Man Popfrogz or the ever-deadly Tango Dancer around the weedy ‘islands’, great fun!
Teemburra is still fishing a little hot and cold but persistence will pay off with plenty of fish now well over a metre long in the dam. Top ups will be made by MAFSA at the dams during the summer depending on fingerling supply which has this summer been not as reliable as in the past few years. MAFSA members can appreciate this though as the success in a hatchery almost always seems to be mirrored by failures – such is the life of a hatchery operator.
Close offshore waters will be again very rain dependant during January and if the calm northerly hot humid weather continues without rain, the pelagics will still be hanging around all the usual haunts. The local tackle shop staff will know what’s on and where so drop in buy some gear (remember you can never have too much) and get the good oil. There is also a chance to spend up on any of those vouchers you may have got from Santa.
If the rain holds off until February, then the close islands will continue to give up good numbers of fish with plenty of blueys on the chew leading up to Christmas. Good numbers of grassy lippers, cod, big Moses perch and stripeys have been coming in around Seaforth as well as the odd trout in close.
The odd golden snapper has also been caught in the rugged rocky areas, but the ratio of hooked to landed fish isn’t great. Dirty water however will see this bite shut down pretty quickly so get out there while the conditions are good.
For January, I suggest all local anglers make a New Year resolution to get out on the water more and enjoy the great lifestyle and fishing that we have here in Paradise. I am resolving to do more beach fishing with a light spin stick and some small vibes and blades for some laid back fun in the sun.
See you at the ramp.Reads: 483