How much rain we get over February and into March will dictate terms in how many fishing options are at our disposal.
So far the wet season has not kicked in yet, and while the temperature has been excruciatingly hot and with humidity that you could cut with a knife the mass onslaught of rain is still yet to come. What rain we have had has been short and sweet. In saying that the latest news and forecasts are looking like the wet season is about to kick into gear. Bring it on I say, as the bigger the wet, the better the fishing for the rest of the year.
Well confidence is up as I have landed some nice barra since the season opened, but I still remain concerned the closed season in QLD just doesn’t make sense. Our wettest months are always Feb and March meaning barra are not getting the best chance at a good breeding cycle. I have no idea why are our laws are seemingly out of step with the barra’s breeding cycle and the wet season, but I’m assuming Fisheries have some reasoning behind it. I personally believe the closed season should be December to March, with the extra month over the current closed season giving barra more time to spawn without being harassed by anglers. Anyway enough of my thoughts on fisheries management.
Lobbing lures into the drains flooding out of the mangroves is producing plenty of barra in the 50-65cm range with the odd 70cm + model thrown in to keep you on your toes. Gold Bombers are still the go-to lure in this situation, really all that needs to be done is to land the lure right in the middle of the drain and crank it back with the odd pause. Even landing the lure on the mud bank is fine.
For anglers wanting to get into chasing barra, and other species, on lures and fly then targeting the drains in the creeks is the easiest and most productive way of getting fish. Z-man 4” Swimmerz or Berkley Powerbaits rigged on ¼ ounce jigheads and slow rolled out of the drain will get eaten if you throw it enough. Fishing drains located in small creek offshoot on the first couple of hours of the run out tide is a great place and time to begin.
Drag settings are very important in helping stay connected once you hook a fish. I like to use a mid-range setting and use my fingers on the spool to put more pressure if needed. You want enough drag to set the hook, but if you have too much drag you run the risk of ripping the lure out of the fish’s mouth when they take the first couple of powerful runs. If possible just let the fish run and keep the rod tip low. The low rod tip will help minimise them jumping and reduces the likelihood of pulling hooks. Barra are brilliant at throwing your lure straight back at your, especially when they take to the air with their head shaking, gill rattling jumps.
Barra really are a spectacular fish, so take care of them, respect them, and show plenty of care when you are releasing them. Always support their weight and never just hang them from the jaw. Barra 60-70cm in length have amazing white fillets, and when covered in golden batter and served with a cold beer is pure dinning perfection.
Grunter captures have been getting better and fish in the 50-70cm range are quite common. Night sessions up the channel fishing rubbly conglomerate bottom with fresh herring, squid and prawns should see plenty of fish caught. A really good tip for sinking the hook into a grunter is to give them a little line when they first bite. This allows them to take the bait all the way in their mouth before you set the hook. Bait feeder style reels matched with light tipped rods are perfect when chasing grunter. The same grounds may also offer fingermark and if you’re really lucky maybe a black jew or threadfin salmon. For visiting anglers looking for somewhere to start head over to The Bluff at the southern end of the channel, there is plenty of great ground there that holds plenty of great fish.
The jetty has been dishing out its usual punishment for anglers, with GTs angry, hungry, and willing to terrorise bait and lures without too much convincing. I, and many others have spent plenty of enjoyable afternoons and evenings ‘blooping’ poppers through the ‘pillars of pain’. To give the arms a rest from the rampaging GTs drifting and bouncing soft plastics and vibes on the bottom is a great way to hooked up to a fingermark. Gulp 7” Jerkshads are like lollies to fingermark, closely followed by Squid Vicious. Rig them on strong jigheads and make sure they are getting to the bottom.
Reef reports have been pretty good, but as usual some reefs and areas are fishing better than others. The water is warm at the moment so fishing deeper should push odds in your favour, especially in the middle of the day. While reds are firing at night for anglers keen to fish after dark with quality baits. Take care with the unstable weather conditions that is all too regular this time of the year, and remember the weather predictions can be wrong.
We had another trip out wide last month and had fun with green jobfish, GT, dogtooth tuna, and trout caught on jigs. I have heard of a few boats getting some big blacks as well and I believe my next trip out will see me having a go even though I’m currently under gunned in the tackle department. But then again I’ve always liked an angling challenge. So with an eye on the weather and a hope for some serious rain let’s see what Mother Nature has in-store for us weatherwise in March. Fingers crossed she brings rain, and plenty of it.
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