Northern delights
  |  First Published: May 2015

With the threats of cyclones and the one again off again likelihood of rain, it's been a bit up and down weather wise, but for some of those who have been out lately there have been some good fish in the rivers on the high tides.

Both lures and livebaits are being taken by barra and jacks, although the bigger tides and murkier water has seen livebaits shine as the standout option. With heaps of tiny prawns on offer in the upper reaches of the rivers and creeks in recent weeks it shouldn't be too long before we get another run of big grunter. If lures are your thing try the small Atomic Prongs around the sandy and muddy entrances to the rivers and creeks. It’s a lure and area that is a reliable producer of quality grunter. The 3 ¼” Atomic Plaso Paddle Tails are producing the bigger specimens at the time of writing, and the motor oil, radioactive rooster and new penny seem to be the most consistent colours, as long as they are worked along the bottom.

The bycatch can be substantial also, including fingermark, flathead, jacks and barra. However if there are snags close by some hook-ups may end in tears because the secret to this deep water micro lure thing is to use ultra light line and leaders. Around 6lb braid and 2m of 12-15lb fluorocarbon leader are just about right for these smaller lures. When using these lures in deeper water a 1/4oz jighead featuring a 1-1/0 size hook is ideal. Grunter have a relatively small mouth, and too heavy a handed approach will often pull the hook from the soft mouth. As a result a soft tipped rod and light line is the way to go.

Barra time

The shallower locations have had big barra cruising at the turn of low tide, more than likely looking for an easy feed in the warmer water. What they may be lacking in numbers they are certainly make up for in size. I hooked what I believe was my biggest barra ever the other day, and after a quick 30 second hook-up it threw the lure back at me. I say hook-up not battle, because I honestly don't think it even knew it was hooked.

Tides early in the month should be good for both the lure casters chasing jacks in the upper reaches of the rivers, and also for barra towards the river mouths and headlands. But if we get a bit of rain, or any rain at all for that matter, it should fire things up for the river barra. Later in the month the tides are more suited to the fishing the headlands, and early starts should be rewarding for those who hit the water early. A general rule of thumb for me is, the bigger tides with medium run means big fish near the river mouths, while on the smaller tides they tend to push upstream. This is only my opinion though, and not a hard and fast rule.

GT power

Some big GTs are hanging around the shallower reefs, and Dan Watts that works in our Akwa Marine store in South Townsville caught a heap of 25kg fish recently not far from Maggie Island. Apparently they had most of their hook-ups on slugs and slices worked up from the bottom. In the river mouths there have been small mackerel and a few wolf herring (wolfies) smacking lures, a possible indicator that an early Spanish season may just be around the corner. Luckily we have a heap of wolf herring in store, both at the Proserpine Akwa Marine and also the South Townsville Akwa Marine, stores. Sizes range from the small 35cm models to the 700mm big mackerel lollies. There has been a swing towards anglers buying the smaller wolfies, this could be due to the fact that there’s been quite a few cases recently of ciguatera. Ciguatera is more common in large mackerel, and large mackerel are more inclined to be caught on larger size wolfies. Personally, if a Mack is over about 12kg, there is no way I'll be taking home with me. There have been some decent mackeral caught on the deeper reefs, but consistency has been hard to come by, with fish there one day and not the next.

Choppers on the chew.

If the water keeps on clearing there should be some nice choppers (aka fingermark) on offer for anglers that hit the water early. A hugely structure and feature orientated species, new technologies such as Minn Kota Spot lock have made it easier than ever to stay on fingermark hold locations. If you stay on the spot you’ll stay on the fish, and as a result catch more fish.

Presenting a lure to a fish that is not in the slightest bit nervous is the best way to get smashed, and on the shallower marks, clunking your petrol motor in and out of gear has a tendency to spook to fish. Spooked fish tend to be shy on the strike, and they seem to swipe at lures, often missing the hooks or hooking up on outside the mouth, which can pull free during the fight. Casting and retrieving 2oz Mumbler styled lures should work well this month as the water cools a little, and the strong action of the Mumblers has a tendency to wake them up and get them biting.

Mac attack

If you are heading out to the reef it will be worth keeping an eye open for feeding schools of mack tuna, so make sure you have a spin rod with a small Halco Twisty or Outcast at the ready. Mack tuna make great bait, so if you catch one don’t bleed it as you want all that blood in the bait. Potent, blood filled baits can be the secret to kicking a bite into gear sometimes.

When rigging baits like mack tuna I like to cut them into a 6" long triangular shaped, and rig them on a 8/0-10/0 Gamakatsu circle or Octopus hook pinned through the narrow end. This ensures no choking of the hook point on the take.

If you just want to bend a rod then throwing small Tilsans or plastics around the breakwalls and rocky points should see you catch plenty of trevally. Another way to catch a few fish that is both peaceful and productive is fishing baits of the beach. And if you pick your trip to coincide with a high tide around 7 or 8pm there’s a good chance of catching a decent fish.

Anyway, go your hardest and good luck for the next few weeks.

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