Wet heats up the estuary fishing
  |  First Published: February 2015

The monsoon season is upon us and, fingers-crossed, we receive some much needed rain. Some pretty ordinary weather hampered us out on the blue recently, and the fishing has been hard work too.

This rain has hotted up the estuaries though, with great numbers of delicious mud crabs being caught. Look for the run out tide when setting your crab pots as this is generally a good time to catch them. Keep in mind that you only take what you need and release the rest for future catches. Just because you catch 20 crabs doesn’t mean you should keep them all. With more fishing pressure these days, it’s a good idea to conserve our waterways and oceans so future generations can enjoy it also.

Some pretty wild conditions out wide have put a halt to fishing the wider grounds for most anglers, however, with so many islands up here in the beautiful Whitsundays, there is always a sheltered place to wet a line. In saying that a lot of these sheltered spots are fringing reefs and bommies. Some great catches of coral trout have been caught, which is always a welcomed addition to the esky. These tasty barrels of goodness often fall for a whole pilchard fished on the bottom, in close to the reefs and bommies. However, if you can catch a fusilier, these make fantasic live bait and tend to catch the bigger coral trout.

Be mindful that if you do catch a large one, you might want to release it as these larger models can be carriers of ciguatera. We usually release coral trout that are over 75cm, just to be safe. This poison affects a lot of the reef species, including large Spanish mackerel.

To our delight we are still seeing good numbers of the Spanish mackerel around. They always put up a great fight and are an impressive fish to catch, and even better on the fang. While trolling for these guys is usually the norm, we have been mixing it up a little lately and have been having great success on jigs using light spin gear. Mark the bait schools up on your sounder and drop your jig down through the school cranking it back up as fast as you can. We are finding that less is usually more in this situation and working on the theory, ‘elephants eat peanuts’ – meaning that your jig doesn’t have to be a foot long and half a kilo to catch these speedsters. A lot of our success comes from spinning up small 40-60g slugs, rigged up on mono leader. You may lose some gear using the mono, but you will find your strike rate will improve dramatically.

Another key ingredient for improving your hook ups is to think about the hook you use on the slug. The small trebles that come on the slugs will usually be crushed by the chomping mackerel resulting in poor hook up rates. Running a strong, single hook of appropriate size to match the lure, with a nice wide gape will ensure a good hook up deep into the fish’s mouth. Equalling a strong hold on the fish so you can get it back to the boat. Also, by using this technique you will increase your variety of by-catch as well.

Talking about by-catch, the most prolific fish we have been catching are the cobia. Great numbers are still around the islands and shoals and put up an epic fight. Remember to not mistake this fish for a shark, as it is easy to do. A tell-tale sign you have one on is the powerful bursts, followed by the fish racing you to the top and heading for the surface wide of your boat. When this fish starts to head towards you, you will have to crank your reel flat out to keep up to prevent your hook from dislodging. Once at the boat, make sure you keep clear of hooks and such as these fish are very erratic once landed.

That’s it from us, hopefully we see some great rainfall totals over the next month, and some good weather for fishing. If you are lucky enough to head out for a fish, keep safe and be courteous to others also out enjoying this fantastic pastime. Cheers.

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