Lock and load – Lucinda’s set to sizzle drags
  |  First Published: June 2015

Due to the lack of a Wet season and a seemingly early onset of winter, the fishing changed quickly here at Lucinda. I was fishing the creeks hard and a secret little spot of mine was offering mind-blowing mangrove jack and barra fishing every session, but I was witnessing the water temperature drop daily and the creeks were getting clearer.

It was like a switch had been thrown. The jacks disappeared and the barra were in lockdown mode. On the other hand, I was sight casting to schools of blue salmon, and any plastic that got to the bottom was getting smacked by flathead or barred javelin (silver grunter). Yep, it was time to change tactics and start working on new game plans. Read on to learn some little tips to help warm the drags and get those rods bending, as the cooler months here in Lucinda can be red hot in terms of fishing options.

Hinchinbrook Channel

Okay, it is now mandatory to have a rod with a small popper or a metal slug rigged and ready at all times. The reason is simple; as you are cruising up the channel (especially on the runout tide) you will most probably see a school of GTs, queenies or even tuna busting into bait on the edges of the sandbars and the mouths of major creeks and rivers. I still shake my head when I see boats that just keep moving past this type of surface action. Yes, they are not table fish, but this is fun (and also I am happy they didn’t stop as then they are all mine!).

Barra are still available, but getting them to eat is much harder. If you are stealthy you will find them sitting in the mangroves or in a snag, but in most cases inactive and head down, tail up. You can throw an entire tackle box at them and most days they will not even blink. Your best chance is to hit them on tide changes and afternoons, but also try to pick areas that offer warmer water temps to put the odds in your favour. Downsizing lures can help.

Jacks are deep in their snags and bite windows will be small. The first few hours of the run-in tide and baits such as half pilchards or mullet fillets will give you a chance.

The standout species for these cooler months are silver grunter, fingermark and blue salmon. These species can be caught in the same area and I like fishing shallower sand bars with a deep channel within casting range. Herring or sardines are great baits, and you want to fan casts out onto the shallow sandbar and into the channel. The first few hours of the incoming tide are my favourite time to fish.

Jetty, Islands and Reef

I get excited just typing about the fishing that is on offer in the colder waters that are pushing north. Starting at the iconic jetty, it is no secret that it is 1 of the best queenfish spots in north Queensland. The big schools of large queenies will hold in the pylons and feed up on the massive schools of bait that push in closer with the currents. They can be caught all day, but morning or afternoon sessions are the best by far. The less boat traffic the better, as they will be less shy. If the planets align and you get the jetty to yourself, the surface sessions on queenies are mind blowing!

GTs will also be roaming about and make short work of your mid-range queenie gear. In saying that, the resident GTs are really only caught when they make a mistake and don’t power run into the pylons of pain, and that is using whatever elephant slaying gear you want to use.

The Palm Islands and the ocean-facing parts of Hinchinbrook will have mackerel of all species starting to show up. The points of any island are the first places to look, as they will be subject to the strongest currents and pressure points. Bigger tides are better and these will mean strong current lines the bait schools will be forced to sit in along certain areas. You need to find the bait and the mackerel will be close by, trust me. Trolling is the best option. Run a deep lure and a shallow 1 to cover the water column. Eyes should be glued to the sounder for any signs of bait or predatory fish, or the ocean for current lines or bird activity. When fish are located, the troll lures should get belted, or drift through jigging and working plastics with speed. Hang on, as Spanish really know how to warm those drags when they hit the afterburners.

The reef will have Spanish mackerel all over them and sometimes it means you need to move to escape their attention. Bramble Reef is another hotspot for Spanish. When the weather is good, there will be boats everywhere floating pilchards and trolling gars, and they will be smashing them.

Reds will be plentiful on the deeper rubble patches, and anchoring up as the sun starts to drop into the horizon should see rods bend. Trout will be now right up in the shallows and hungry as they prepare for breeding in a few months. Water depths around 15-30m will be best for these tasty fish.

And if all these epic fishing options are not enough, the juvenile black marlin will also start showing up in numbers. Last year was a good year, and I know a small number of anglers (me included) that are bouncing off the walls in anticipation of what this year will bring.

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