Along with the water, the fishing has been heating up too! The offshore stuff has really kicked into gear now. The numbers of fish aren't ground breaking, but everyone is apparently having a ball.
Townsville Game fishing Clubs annual Billfish Tournament is currently being held and the weather isn't terrific but it has been kind enough to allow some of the smaller boats in the fleet to compete. Both marlin and sails are being taken on a range of baits and lures, and it will be interesting to hear the final tally.
One thing is for sure, there will be plenty of snip offs because the Spanish mackerel have been thick in patches. There have been several accounts of massive schools rising up under the boats out wider towards the marlin grounds and closer reefs. Unweighted baits, like pillies and gar, are bringing many undone, and there have been some good sized fish mixed in with them.
The reefies are playing the game, and one of our Akwa Pro Tackle regulars was saying that he tried several different locations on the one trip, and bagged out on trout, large mouth, and similar. He also hit a patch of legal sized red emperor in 8m of water, and this is the second report of shallow reds in a couple of days, so don't be surprised what turns up in the box.
Another out of the ordinary occurrence of late is the small jacks that are showing up on the outer reef in 18-20m of water. One customer was saying he pulled two 40cm jacks on a two hook rig 50 miles off Townsville, while another caught a 45cm model. These are the smallest I've ever heard of and whether it has something to do with lack of rain over the last couple of years, or some other natural phenomenon I don't know, but they are bailing from the rivers early for some reason.
Doggie mackerel are still about, but not in the numbers that they were last month. All the local haunts have been a bit unreliable, but there have been enough to keep the die-hards happy. Smoking fish is becoming extremely popular, and doggies are on the top of the list of species due to their oily flesh. Other fish that go well in the smoker are GT, goldens and queenies.
The rivers have been fishing quite well on most days when the tide hasn't been roaring, but on the bigger tides, the flooded mangroves on the flats have been going well for Barra. I went for a flick the other day around a spot that normally produces quite well on the bigger tides, but only managed a few fruitless bites with only a couple of the smaller models hooking up. The bait was getting smashed around me by all sorts of things, and hundreds of metres away showering bait could be heard and seen. It was absolutely spectacular, and there were barra, salmon, GT, sharks and god knows what else hitting bait hard, but it didn't seem to help my efforts much. Dredging has been continuing in the harbour which has stirred the normally clear waters of the bay, and many of the lure fishing locations have been just too dirty to bother with, but bait has still been producing, and being as thick as it has lately, is very easy to gather.
The water has jumped up 9ºC on average, and this should fair well with the river fish and get the jacks and barra on the chew big time. The jacks in the river haven't been plentiful, but have been fat and smashing lures hard. By the time the next report is due I would expect them to have really switched on, and I can't wait!
We often have days just spent chasing the jacks and, even though the barra are a common by-catch species, it's the jacks in the snags that get the heart pumping. The faithful Atomic Prong 4" model is still my pick for the jacks when they're feeding up tight in the mangrove roots, and the weedless EWG 1/4oz jighead is just the right weight to get that all important flapping tail working on the drop, and reach the depths when flicked up into a drain and worked back along the deep edges.
It's no secret that red fish such as jacks love red lures, and we have just got the new red crayfish coloured 52mm Scorpion in stock specifically for the jack fans. The same lure works a treat on the sooties up in the fresh, and JP have trouble resisting them as well. This newly introduced colour is sure to become a favourite for jack casters over the next few months, and is buoyant enough to allow anglers to upgrade trebles without sinking it when the need arises.
Other requisite lures for jacks are the Tilsan Barra and the Tilsan Bass, and it's anyone's guess which will be the better on any given day, but is worth trying both to form a pattern. Strong actions at slow speeds is the key, and slow float rates also helps entice them out from under their lairs and branches.
Flatties, whiting and bream are still showing for the guys putting in the effort to get good baits. Fresh pumped yabbies are a great bait for these three bread and butter species. Some of the flatties have been over the 70cm mark, so just keep in mind that these bigger breeding females must be released unharmed.
If you want to keep up with the weekly fishing reports I do a report every Thursday for those wanting the latest updates, and you can find it by looking for Akwa Marine Boating Fishing Yachting. If you have any questions about the local area or need any advice on where and what is biting drop in and have a look or leave a question and I'll get back to you s soon as I can.Reads: 315