Rain glorious rain
  |  First Published: March 2015

The wet season has arrived with plenty of rain giving all our saltwater and freshwater systems a good flush out, scouring out new banks, covering some old sand banks, and importantly giving all the systems a new lease of life with plenty of bait and that is always good for the fishery.

The big news around Mackay, like it has been for many of the east coast locations, is the great barra fishing that’s been around since the season opened. Regardless of whether it’s live bait or lures anglers have been having a ball with good numbers and sizes of barra being caught in almost every saltwater creek in the district.

Barra Bounty

After the huge February tides the estuaries and creeks will settle down and will alternate between clear and discoloured water, depending of course on the amount of rain and run off. Where small gullies and drains run into the main creeks having a cast in the discoloured water for barra is always worth a shot. For the live bait anglers, this is the spot to lob a couple of live prawns up into the gully and slowly let the bait drift out into the main stream.

The rains have seen good numbers of prawns in the creeks and they are an excellent live or fresh bait for just about anything that swims. One of the down sides of live prawns is that every undersize bream or grunter will snaffle them, which can get a bit frustrating at times. Other good live baits are small mullet and whiting which don’t attract the ‘pickers’ like prawns do.

Good barra have been showing up right in the centre of Mackay with some nice fish falling to live baits under the Forgan Bridge, but a better bet is the highway bridge further upstream. The rocks just near the bridge can be accessed on foot on the lower parts of the tide, but to fish the bridge itself a boat is needed. Around the rocks is a top spot for lure fishing on a falling tide, and even more so at night with the bridge lights casting shadows on the water. Paddle tails, plastic prawns and vibes will all score well here but many lures are lost on the rocks, Rigging weedless will reduce the losses though, and floating/diving hard bodies are also popular here.

Down stream at the V has been surprisingly quieter than the bridges, with this usually reliable spot known for producing horse barra, with metre plus fish a regular capture on the run out.

Plenty of quality barra have been caught in the Cape Palmerston creeks and Sarina Inlet/Plane Creek has also been fishing well for barra. To the north the usual spots of Reliance, Constant, and Murray Creeks have all produced good numbers and sizes of barra on both live bait and lures. Constant Creek’s King Hole is once again proving to be a hot spot for barra and king salmon.

Dam it!

The dams have also been firing well with some absolute horses coming from Kinchant Dam while Teemburra Dam is fishing more reliably than during the later part of 2014 when it was a bit hit and miss. Persistence definitely pays off when barra fishing the dams, and it pays putting in plenty of time on a prominent headland as the barra will be there or will move into these areas from deeper water nearby.

Those anglers who have side scan imaging sounders are amazed at the numbers and sizes of big fish in our dams and regular stockings by MAFSA are helping to keep it that way. MTA regular Phil Lyons has had a couple of ripper sessions at Teemburra lately boating 10-20 barra per session, and up to 110cm in size, which is pretty hot barra fishing anywhere. Phil’s tip is to use black and gold Squidgies slow rolled around the prominent points where there is good weed growth. It’s not all about the barra though with some monster sooties being caught on barra gear. It won’t be long before someone confirms a 60cm plus sooty, as mid 50s fish seem to be relatively commonplace (even though I still haven’t broken my personal 50cm barrier).

By the time this issue hits the stands, MAFSA should have the sooty breeding season underway, with hatchery director Kieron Galletly confident the upgraded and modernised equipment will see his target of 60,000 sooties achieved this summer. Thanks to great support from Wests Tigers Mackay RLFC, MAFSA now has state-of-art monitoring equipment that will give real time data on the hatchery environment and hopefully provide sufficent warning when things go awry to avert a disaster. Fingers crossed for successful spawning.

In the Creeks

Down in the creeks the jacks have been going bananas with some nice fish coming from the bridges in the Pioneer River on live baits. Elsewhere the jacks are hammering livies and lures in the top reaches of Murray and St Helens area creeks, with good numbers also being reported around Seaforth. Many jacks can be found in the smaller creeks in the area, like McReadys and Bakers Creeks near Mackay, but these can be hard to fish as they tend to be almost dry on low tide.

Grunter have also been on fire in the estuaries and creeks and I expect this will continue through March and April. They favour gravel beds and anywhere there is a bit of rubble on the bottom and they forage among the rocks/rubble looking for small crabs and fish. They can also be taken on top of rock walls at high tide when they will move right up into shallow water to forage, but they are skittish and a quiet approach is needed when targeting them there.

March often sees the Mackay area deluged and that situation makes fishing difficult but not impossible. The beaches can fish quite well during these periods of flooding and snub nose dart or permit are one fish that seems to thrive on this dirty weather. Hot spots for the dart or oyster crackers as they are also known are the mouth of the Pioneer River, the harbour beaches and around the Eimeo/Shoal Point areas. I think with the rough weather they more easily get a feed of the small pippies (eugaries) we have in this region, but most of the catches seem to be on live whiting or a bunch of prawns or yabbies. They are well worth checking out and a talk with the guys in the local tackle outlets will put you on the right track.

Offshore fishing is very weather dependant and there will be a lot of time during March when the big rigs are sitting on trailers instead of heading out to sea, but regardless of the weather Mackay always has angling opportunities and plenty of variety. See you at the ramp.

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