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Brimming with Barra!
  |  First Published: November 2015



All accounts of fishing across the region have been very exciting and we are getting geared up for a brilliant summer on the water. With the warmer climate comes active fish and the latter side of winter fish spawning cycles.

Offshore

This past month has seen some windy days cross our paths with only a few short windows to get out on the reef. Those fortunate enough to have taken advantage of these trips have resulted in some great catches of coral trout, red throat in excess of 60cm, impressive pelagic action trolling skirted lures and also floating baits. Red emperor are showing up again in numbers both undersized and upwards of 10kg catches around Northwest regions.

Speaking of Northwest, marlin are being taken wide of Broomfield Reef with a 250lb specimen caught and released with by-catches of Spanish mackerel and the spectacular looking and delicious dolphin fish. Adam Amos managed to land an absolute beauty trolling skirted resin head lures handmade by local Matt Mannion of ‘Panttera Lures.’

Rock Cod Shoals is also starting to heat up with good reports of tusk, red throat and parrot caught recently. Local fisherman Chris O’Byrne’s advice was fairly simple when getting to know the area,

“Get to known your sounder and use it, always keep an eye it – find the bait find the fish.” We’ve all heard this, we all intend to do this but discipline is the key.

When fishing rock cod you have to get to know what the current is doing, reef fish love a bit of run and will cruise around the upside of a bommi. Fish the deeper sections 15-30m and you’ll find that's where the quality fish hang out.

Rigs come down to personal preference as to what works best for you, when bottom bouncing use a paternoster rig two 6/0 about 300mm apart and the sinker about below the last hook, the sinker should be just as light as conditions dictate, and using 50lb braid and 60lb leader that stops most fish. Some fish however, that will smash you no matter what you do.

Chris always has a live bait out under a balloon for Spanish mackerel and the use of single strand wire has tripled his catches.

Anchoring up can seem like the right thing to do, however I have also found drifting, although it can be carnage on your tackle does produce the goods. Drifting the edges, finding the fish and re-drifting over these areas can produce a good feed of trout, cobia and red throat.

Estuaries

With the bream and grunter firing up at the tail end of the spawning season and the later season cool weather these species have been in abundance. Calliope and Boyne rivers are still producing good fish.

Peeled prawns or soft plastics are the most popular methods to use in tight to the softer gravel areas. At this time of year you will find them in the deeper waters, however reports have established their position as staying in close to structure and in lower reaches of the rivers. Still getting good reports of mud crab catches but you do have to work for them. Bigger tides and getting up high into creeks seems to be the best working method. The full moon in November should see them become active again – fingers crossed for a good summer of crab catches! Sandies are also being caught around Lillies Beach area.

Lake Awonga

Closed season for Barramundi is now in effect throughout the Queensland east coast from the 1st of November until the 1st of February so it’s now time for us to hit the fresh water impoundments to get our Barra fix.

Recent reports of good catches in our local Barramundi impoundment at Awonga Dam are starting to filter through. A report of 8 barra caught in one session is enough to get the blood boiling and the boat headed towards the dam. One local fisho Christopher Stolk found the best method was to cast at structure (weed beds and snags) using Squidgy Mongrels on 20lb braid. Some bigger fish are holding in the deeper water – try some deep diving lures in darker colours on these occasions.

Sooty grunter are also on the target list over the next month or two as they move into their spawning season. Early reports of catches are coming through already with best success on shrimp bait and fly fishing. As the water heats up the bigger Barra will definitely come out to play and for all the land based fishos there is now boat hire available. Great to see we can all take advantage of this large, complex and very fruitful impoundment. I will be doing a more in-depth report on Awonga in the December issue so make sure you tune in.

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