Barra season has ended and the reef closures have come into effect. The end of the barra season was quite different from other years in that there were fewer fish caught, but there some very nice fish among the stacks of little fellas. The dry has meant that the majority of breeding-size fish in the Fitzroy are further upstream than in previous years.
For the barra addicts like myself, there are other options such as Lake Awoonga, Monduran, Proserpine and other impoundments within a few hours drive. These dams are open all year round and, as you would expect, the barramundi definitely feed better during the warmer months.
In recent times many of the young local guys have been branching out from the norm and targeting other freshwater species like saratoga and sooty grunter. With so many freshwater rivers and creeks within easy distance, it opens up a new world for those of us raised in salt. By next month I will have given it more of a shot and should have a section on how and where within range of Rocky.
The Barra Bounty last month had another good year with most guys getting a barra or two, but the standout was the amount of king threadfin salmon along the length of the river. They have been schooling in huge numbers everywhere. In September they moved right up into town (and they’re still being caught there). There were occasions during the comp when 20 or more boats were all trolling an area and catching salmon like clockwork. The best part about it was that the large majority of fish were released.
We have had some great sessions landing upwards of 25 fish (using barbless hooked lures with all fish released successfully). It’s given me the opportunity to fine-tune my methods and gear to suit different styles of plastics and hardbodies. Most of the guys were trolling rattle-type lures that worked the zone around a metre from the bottom. We tried every sort of lure I owned and the most successful were the natural prawn colours in both the plastics and the hardbodies. Other crews, however, found that different colours in the fluoro range did better for them, and this might indicate that confidence in persisting with a particular lure can pay off. More often than not though, if the fish aren’t hitting your lure, try something else.
Once again the modern sounders were a major advantage in finding where the fish were aggregating. At different locations the fish were holding at different depths, and this was when lure and method selection were also important.
Grunter have had some serious runs this year and they still keep coming – even right up to the town reaches of the Fitzroy River in spots they haven’t been for years. All the regular spots in the river have turned out quality fish lately. Connors Creek and into Port Alma is and area where they are as big as the big yellow offshore fish. In the Nerimbera section is another spot where they school up, particularly when the tide runs pretty hard. The current has created huge undulations like big ripples where the grunter hold beneath the flow, and pick off a feed as it passes.
The old days of heaps of tinnies fishing the hole at Devils Elbow has returned. It is the best indicator that grunter are there in numbers. Look towards the river on the town side of the Lakes Creek meat works – if there are boats there that means the fish are on.
Grunter love rubble patches and cockle beds. Some of our local systems have big patches of small cockles about the size of your little fingernail. Generally they can be found in holes on external bends in a creek or river, and look just like coarse gravel on the sounder. Fingermark also like this type of country.
Coorooman Creek has several good grunter holes, as does Corio Bay and Waterpark Creek. These systems work the same as the river, and the sort of country that grunter like is very consistent across all our estuaries. As usual, prawns are the best bait. Another option for the lure fishers has been 30-40mm chrome or gold vibes. We have also caught grunter on plenty of different plastics in recent times.
Whiting are continuing to feature in catches. Any of the beaches from the mouth of the river right up to army country has a supply of good whiting. Rundles, Long and Keppel Sands beaches have a particularly large number of fish all around the 300mm mark.
Kinka through to Mulambin is another hotspot for school whiting. In the past week or so you can be driving through Yeppoon and see fishers scoring quality fish at the mouth of Ross Creek and around the bluff. Farnborough Beach is worth a shot at any of the many little gutters and features. Corio Bay and Coorooman are other very good spots to try. The best spots in our area are Nine Mile and Three Rivers. The hard access gives the whiting population plenty of recovery time between fishers.
Beachworms and yabbies provide the best whiting baits. I like to fish the incoming tide at my feet right where we catch our bait.
Mahimahi (dolphinfish) are still being caught. Plenty of our recent trips have involved mahimahi encounters, with several fish taken trolling the edge of the scum patches between spots. These fish will find virtually any floating object and make it home until something better comes along. Any time you see floating objects it pays to cast a lure or two past them or take your troll pattern around them. Like many other pelagics, we get more action in the dry years.
Grey, doggy and spotty mackerel have all been going well in previous weeks. All the local spots, especially in the southern end of the bay, have been charging. Farnborough, Bangalee, Findlays, Ironpot, Double Heads, Rita Mada, Wedge, Pelican and Quartz Rock have all had a portion of the catch lately. Spanish mackerel will be about for a while and should be at places like Flat, Perforated, Manifold and the wider shoals.
Cobia are still annoying the mackerel guys at some of the close spots like Liza Jane, Barren, Outer, and Man and Wife. We often take one for the BBQ, especially if the fishing is a little slow.
The Coral Reef Fin Fish Closures for this month are 9-13 November inclusive. Last month the wind didn’t drop below 15-20 for that period so it didn’t affect too many anglers.
There have been only limited opportunities for the serious reef fishers lately. The wider grounds have been putting out some huge reds when the weather has allowed. Nannygai and trout are also in good supply at the closer grounds and the wides.
Red-throat emperor have been a standout, with some large fish landed last month. We scored these fish in water a little deeper than we would usually target them. The red grounds this side of the shoals have produced a fair quantity of red-throat in recent weeks.Reads: 1010