We anglers are a die-hard bunch. Lately conditions have been poor, but on those days when the conditions have been merely uncomfortable rather than dangerous we’ve still seen the boat ramps chockers.
That transitional period between seasons sees fluctuations in water temps. There has been a fair amount of variation recently, and the activity of river species has reflected this. Before the barra closure some cracking specimens were caught, and I was lucky enough to snaffle a 105cm salty casting from the shore in the Ross. I was using a 4” Atomic Shad, sinking it down and hopping it off the bottom. It was just after the neap tides that we had mid September and the water was still clear, so I dipped the tail of the shad in Chartreuse Quick Coat Worm Dip to add a little contrast, and it just looked sexy in the water. When it comes to the best lure colours to use in dirty or clear water, I’ve found there’s a pattern forming. In the dirty water the red colour has been out-fishing chartreuse and pink, and the reverse has been true in clearer waters. This trend has become a little more obvious in recent weeks. Customising lures to prevailing conditions does increase strike rates for sure.
The numbers of grunter have been increasing, and the average size hasn't been too bad, averaging around 50cm. These fish are very popular with anglers who appreciate good table fare. Fingermark are a common bycatch in the shallower grunter territory, as are blue salmon. Fresh squid baits are a goer for the choppers and grunter, while peeled prawn baits take plenty of bream and salmon.
Whiting are a bit more scarce now, and the size is down in comparison to last month, but worm baits seem to be the pick for the flats. Some nice goldens are cruising the flats, and are providing great sport for those fishing with plastics and fly.
Jacks are playing the game now, and there have been plenty of lure losses for those underestimating these fish in the sticks. An average benchmark of 20lb braid and 30lb leader on a quality casting reel should extract the majority of the jacks, but you won't win them all. That’s the reality of jack lure casting.
There are still plenty of mackerel around, and trolling diving lures has been bringing a fair percentage aboard, with the deeper versions doing most of the damage. The size of the mackerel hasn't been as consistently large as earlier in the year; we’re seeing more table-sized fish of between 7-10kg fish. Finding Nannies hasn't been to hard if you have some good marks, and largies up to 9kg have been far from uncommon. The best bites have been in the afternoon though, and sparrow fart starts haven't been necessary to catch fish. Bigger baits are the norm at the moment, and the Sharks have been a drama still, so doing the sporting thing isn't going to put too many in the boat.
Trout, sweetlip, red-throat, and red fish have been a bit hard to nail down, but if a good patch of fish on the sounder doesn't produce, try again a couple of hours later, and you might find a big change. There are still some Billfish around and one guy was telling me about two sails that followed the hard bodies to the boat this week, but didn't hit the lures, so a couple of down rigged, skirted Gar may be the go for them.
The annual Lions Club Family Fishing Comp was held at Lucinda on the weekend of 25-26 September. Even though numbers were down slightly due to a few unforeseen factors, those who did show up caught some nice fish and had a great time. The wind was woeful, and very few boats went out wide, but even those who did found it tough going. Inshore fishing for the smaller boats was a little bit more civilised though, and plenty of Grunter, Bream and other northern estuary species like Jacks were weighed in. It wasn't all about the fishing though, and other events such as the Mud Crab tying and Prawn eating comps got the crowd involved and was great fun. There was even a fashion parade for the ladies in the crowd, but none of the blokes seemed to upset about having to watch that. I've included a few pics for those interested and the winners and details of the comp are on the Net.
It's coming into mating season for the crocs. I experienced a real case of 'sphincter pucker' recently as a 10-12ft croc launched from the water at me, not once but three times, even though I had moved away from it. It happened where the highway crosses Cattle Creek near Ingham, and it would be irresponsible of me to not let people know about this mongrel beast. It's a convenient location for people to pull up roadside for a rest or a fish, and holidaying anglers could easily make the mistake of getting too close to the water.
On this occasion I didn’t anticipate any danger; what saved me was my habit of staying up high or back from the water’s edge far enough to be out of reach… thank God! The bank I was standing on was around 1.2m above the water and I’m sure if I’d been an ant’s nuts lower, I'd have been in real trouble. The speed at which the croc launched itself, and the distance it made it up the bank on the strike was incredible. On the first lunge I felt the wind puff from a slamming jaw in front of my shins. I scrambled backward as it launched itself a second and then a third time. The third attempt was particularly nasty – he came straight up like a missile, hitting his bottom jaw on the bank in front of me.
I now have one thing to say and that is this: don’t get down at water level or hang fish over the side of the boat to release them!
At 10-12ft long this croc wasn't a monster, but after seeing the speed and power of this brute I don't think even me at 124kg would have had a chance if he got me in the water. The only comforting thought is that the second mouthful of me would have tasted like poo.
I managed to get some screenshots from the video I was taking when he had his third attempt, and it took me ages to get them just right because the speed at which it happened was insane. You might think I’m making too big a deal out of this, but I believe it’s vital for people to know how real the risks are.
So keep your wits about you on the water’s edge. The crocs can’t get you if you don’t give them the opportunity.Reads: 400