Good news, it’s all changing!
  |  First Published: May 2015

We have yet to have any substantial rainfall and plenty of people are hoping for a last big surprise, but it doesn’t look like it at the moment. It’s a shame as the more run-off we get the better the fishing in Lucinda, like most places. May will definitely see the transition into the cooler months as water temps start dropping dramatically and the fish will change their habits.

Hinchinbrook Channel

A good example of the transition that May will bring, is the species that will show up in better numbers in the channel and creeks. I had been fishing a particular creek for the last few months and had been doing well on barra and jacks, but on the last few occasions it has had mini GT taking up residence on nearly every snag. Not that I’m complaining, as these GT are aggressive and hang in packs so it’s normally action stations once they’re located.

The water is a lot clearer and plenty of tiny jelly prawns are about, which can make chasing barra difficult. I had a morning session where there were barra working in teams to herd up and smash the jelly prawns right in front of my eyes but after throwing everything in my tackle box at them I couldn’t get anything except a few half-hearted nudges which was extremely frustrating. Plenty of live bait fishers have gone home empty-handed for the same reason and the ‘match the hatch’ plan doesn’t work with these tiny prawns as they are so small and impossible to imitate.

The best bet at this time of the year is to plan your sessions for the optimal times. For example a tide change an hour or two before sunset (run-in best) so the water is at its warmest and most fish get active around dusk.

Mangrove jack

The last few months must have been the best mangrove jack fishing I have experienced. Plenty of sessions boating over 10 or so jacks, and losing plenty, was the norm and the first few hours of the run-in tide offered plenty of action.

Stealthily making your way up the creeks you could watch the bait getting smashed and actually see the jacks getting airborne as they snapped their jaws. It really was adrenalin-fuelled fishing and I was feeling sorry for those baitfish. Standout plastics were the 3” Minnowz from Z-Man and the Berkley Ripple Shad; both these plastics rigged on 1/4oz jigheads and cast tight to structure got smacked; most of the time you got to see a flash of red before your rod gets near ripped out of your hands.

Plenty of bait anglers were getting their fair share as well. Lobbing unweighted half pilchards into the snags is a deadly technique.


Grunter have also showed up in great numbers and fishing the creek holes and channel, especially over areas of rubble has seen spectacular numbers being caught. Fresh herring or prawns is the best bait and fishing the night hours will see better numbers and size fish hit the decks.

Grunter fight well and taste great so they are well worth the effort in chasing, they normally move around in packs so a few hours of boredom can quickly change to chaos if they move past you, with all rods going off.

I’m sure I have written the same thing about grunter hundreds of times but it is very important to give them a little line before striking. Grunter always mouth the bait and using smaller (3/0) and very sharp hooks will help get a good solid hook up. They are not dirty fighters and will give a great tussle, especially on lighter lines which is what you should be using anyway as you will get more bites.

Jetty, Islands and Reef

With cooler waters, the pelagic fish will be lining up to attack the numerous bait schools that will come in closer to the mainland. The jetty will have big GT taking up residence and for the sports fishing nuts slowly drifting along lobbing big poppers in between and under the jetty will see you get your arms ripped out of their sockets. Sometimes (rarely) they make a mistake and run the wrong way, which with good quick manoeuvring of the boat and some solid drag and fancy rod work you can steer them into open water and settle into a slugging fest. But I must say, odds are not in your favour no matter what gear you’re using.

The queenfish will also be gathering in good numbers as they have already started to show up. The queenies will stick around for about 3 months before slowly dwindling in numbers so get into them while they’re about. Z-Man 5” StreakZ and JerkshadZ are deadly, as are vibes and smaller metal slugs. Side imaging sounders make locating the better schools easier and it’s almost cheating when you just drive along until you find them.

The reef will be fishing well if conditions allow boats to get out there. The southerlies can be quite persistent at this time of year, keep an eye on the weather and be ready to go as soon as the chance arises. Trout will move up into the shallower water and can be very aggressive, pilchards are probably the best bait for them or if you can catch fusilier and use them as fresh strip baits you are giving yourself a great shot.

Spanish mackerel have already shown up on some reefs in numbers and these fish will disperse onto the rubble grounds, wrecks and around the islands while they feed and get ready to breed. There are plenty of ways to catch mackerel but for me it’s all about high speed jigging. Find mackerel and bait on the sounder, position the boat, drop your jig through the school, then crank it up at speed. There is no such thing as too fast for mackerel.

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