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A whole year to fish hard
  |  First Published: December 2014



Happy New Year to all! I’m excited to be at the start of another year with so much fishing ahead of me. I have so many plans that I’m writing them all down and filling pages, otherwise I’d forget!

Every year as the clock counts down people all over the world start making their New Year resolutions and I definitely join in. My resolutions are always fishing based and I normally set out rules and boundaries for the coming year. It may seem strange to put restrictions on where I can fish and what type of fishing I can do, but by the end of the year I have loads more awesome GPS marks and I have improved in certain aspects of my fishing skills.

A quick example for the year that passed was that I banned myself from fishing Bramble reef (the closest), which made me put more effort in working out its neighbour, Britomart reef. I also made a rule that every 3rd trip I had to try somewhere completely new which had me covering ground and fishing different techniques, expanding my skills in working plastics and jigs. Trust me when I say it takes mass will power to not go to your favourite insane fish-filled marks when you have limited time and just want to bend a rod. But because of this rule, I found great bait grounds which held 9 black marlin and a sailfish for the season. Worth it? You bet! So once again I have set my resolutions for 2015 – Bring it on.

Hinchinbrook Channel

Fishing in the channel can be tough this time of year as it can be hot, humid and if we have had plenty of rain the channel will be dirty. If this is the case it will be worth the extra travel time and fuel to head further up the channel until better water is found.

Golden grunter are a great species to target over summer as they seem to call the channel and creeks home before getting back to travelling up and down the coast. Grunter will hang in creeks throughout the channel and sounding out a good hole, setting the anchor and getting some fresh baits out for the incoming tide should see you with a bent rod or two and some tasty fillets for dinner.

Keep your hook size no bigger than a 3/0 as they have smaller mouths and allow them to move off with the bait before striking. Baitrunner style reels are worth looking into if you want to make fishing for grunter (and plenty of other species) easier. Baits can be as simple as live herring and prawns to fresh herring, sardines, prawns or squid. Keep weight to a minimum but make sure your bait is on the bottom as grunter are mainly bottom feeders.

The trusty red devil, mangrove jack, will be hungry and they don’t mind lots of fresh water. Jacks will eat when something is in there face even if they aren’t hungry; it’s this territorial nature they have that makes them the awesome fish they are. Jacks are on top of plenty of anglers’ hit lists as once they get to a certain size they can be near unstoppable on light to medium gear in the snags. Find good structure with baitfish in the area and fish it with lures or live baits and hang on. A ‘jack attack’ can and will leave you standing there gasping for air and wondering what the hell just happened.

Jetty, Islands and Reef

Watch the weather during summer as nasty storms can brew up very quickly and make things quite uncomfortable and if your unlucky, dangerous. These storms normally build during the afternoon and into the evening so it is hard to keep an eye on them when darkness approaches.

Just keep it in mind that you may need to get a good anchor in or shelter in the lee of reefs or islands until it passes. Also double check your bilge pump is working as the wet season down pours can really drop a lot of water quickly.

As a rule, I like to fish deeper in the summer heat for pretty much all species. I’m definitely no trout master but I find that starting in the 28m range and working slowly deeper normally works well in summer. And if it’s a glassy day, I’ll probably look at 35m or more, this goes for reds as well. Reds should be targeted in the late afternoon leading into darkness and if you can time this with a good tide change, then you should be in for a show. As with most species using good fresh bait will out fish store bought squid and fish anytime.

For the sporting types, cobia will be holding on the wrecks and reef points and berley can bring them right up to the back of the boat where a plastic or unweighted bait can be fed into its mouth. Watching a big cobia eat your offering and then scream away is plenty of fun, and where you find one you will nearly always find more.

But for me I have one fish that I want to catch more than anything and that’s a dogtooth tuna. From the research I’ve done, January is the month to be getting into them and every opportunity I get I’ll be out jigging like mad and trolling like a man possessed until I finally beat one. So far I have witnessed their power a few times and really didn’t give them anything to worry about… but this year things will change!

Capitions

1

Jacking in the rain, tropical style!

2

The trout will be hungry, but fish deeper for better results in the hotter months.

3

Seeing red in summer – these guys are pretty hard to beat on the table.

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