Another year is almost gone, and I hope we’ve all been able to store away some fantastic fishing memories over the year. December in Mackay is always hot, humid – and depending on the wind, we’ll either have an offshore bonanza or have to head for the dams and creeks for our fishing fix.
Close inshore, the harbour walls have been on fire with doggies and spotted mackerel continually harassing the schools of small baitfish that the northerly and easterly winds have driven close inshore. Unfortunately, access is now restricted to the south wall only but plenty of shore based anglers have been having a ball from the dogleg in the main wall to the end. Pilchards or live herring have been the preferred baits, while lure casters have been scoring plenty with metal and plastic vibes.
The fish are deeper in the water column than usual so your best bet is to use a small sinker when bait fishing or, if luring, cast out and let the lure sink almost to the bottom. Once the lure clears the rocks in the wall, it becomes safe to let the lure sink as by then you are fishing over a sand bottom with no structure.
There has been the odd day when grey mackerel have turned up, but as always they seem to drift in and go at a moments notice. Plenty of northern blue and mac tuna have been in the mix also with a smattering of large (20kg+) cobia thrown in as well. Surprisingly, there have been few reports of trevally on the bait but the mega queenies have been showing up along the wall.
For the small boat angler, the calm northerly winds of a morning open up all sorts of areas, from the Lamberts Beach headland right down to Hay Point and easily accessible from the harbour ramp in a 4 metre tinnie. It is not all about pelagics though as some very nice blueys have been showing up around Slade Island and to the south hard in at Flat and Round Top islands. Big prawns, light sinkers and heavy line is the recommended way to hook and stop these bruisers. A 50% landed to hooked ratio is good going on blues as they hit really hard and are motoring as they hit and headed for the rocks.
Further offshore the bigger trailer boats have been having a ball on trout lippers and nannygais in the shallower waters and pilchards and squid have been the go to bait. Out in the shipping channel the reds have also been on the job with quality fish coming in from the deeper water, and there have been some monster cod mixed in with the reds. There are still a few quality Spanish about and a gar or pilchard drifted out the back of the boat is likely to score a Spanish which makes a great ice box “filler”
Creek fishing is also going well and should continue to the end of the year. The success of creek fishing will be dependent on rain, but with the short sharp storms we’ve had through November, the creeks are getting some fresh run which is stirring up the baitfish and prawns – this can only be good news. Barra are off the target list until 1 December but there are plenty of other opportunities to score a good feed of top fighting fish.
Those really hot sticky humid days, with hardly a breath of wind are gold for anglers chasing jacks in the creeks. They love the heat and have been really active through November with both lures and live baits scoring plenty of fish. Look for the jacks on the big heavy snags, and around rocks on the run in and at the top of the tide. Some barra will be hooked while chasing jacks and if caught on bait just cut the line with the fish still in the water. Plastic vibes have been one of the most successful lures in the creeks and they seem to catch everything.
There are plenty of flathead and bream still around in the creeks with the lizards favouring the sandy flats and the pikies in close to cover. Grunter and whiting are also in the creeks in good numbers and both can be found at high tide over the sand and mud flats where they forage for yabbies. Any low rubble rock particularly towards the mouth of the creeks will usually yield a grunter or two towards full tide. The bigger tides towards the end of December usually produce good numbers of grunter right up on the flats.
Excellent damn fishing is the only way to describe Kinchant and Teemburra dams at the moment! Both are absolutely firing with huge barra coming from both spots. How good are these two dams? Less than 40 minutes drive from the centre of Mackay, stocked with large numbers of barra and sooties and regularly producing fish way over the metre mark – it doesn’t get much better than this!
Kinchant is the preferred option for lake trollers as there is lots of open water really suited to slow trolling big minnows or really big paddletail plastics. Work along just outside the edges of the weed beds, and be prepared to hang on as bragging rights for fish out of Kinchant come now with barra over 1.2m and there are plenty of monsters in the dam. The best times to get out there are late in the afternoon, into the evening and at daylight – additionally; most anglers favour the nights close to the full moon. Talk to the guys in the local tackle shops, as they are in the know as to what lures are the hot ones at any time. Make a few purchases and you can be guaranteed you will get good, up to date info as all of the staff are very keen fishos.
Teemburra Dam has finally started to fish consistently – not a word I would use for it over the last couple of years as it has been very hot and cold. So far this summer though, the barra have decided to be very co-operative and are smashing lures like there is no tomorrow. The fish are everywhere, out on the flats at the mouth of Teemburra and Middle creeks, in the timber in the side arms and bays, and right on the prominent points in the main body of the dam.
Big squidgy slick rigs in black and gold are one of the most reliable plastics in Teemburra, but anglers are finding that the barra respond to the ever producing plastic vibes worked close to the bottom and with a sink and draw action. Look for colour and sizes that roughly equate to a 75-100mm long bony bream and you won’t go too far wrong.
For the hard body lure tosser, have a mix of shallow divers like B52s and gold bombers and some that will work down to around 3m, as most of the barra are caught in water less than 5m deep. For a real buzz, get onto some surface fishing for these mighty fish and use lures like the Tango Dancers in the biggest size, or Z-Man pop frogz – again in the larger sizes. Surface luring can be productive all day, but is better at night or periods of low light. At night it is best to fish the open points with surface lures and the timbered areas on the western side of the dam work well early morning or late afternoon.
Surface strikes from barra are explosive affairs and they will often hit just beside the boat, which is really heart stopping stuff in the dark! Walk the dog style and retrieve as slow as you can, keep the lure working as this seem to switch on the barra, but a lot of the hits come when the lure is stationary. I love the pop frogz as they can be worked with a super slow motion, or sped up and skittered across the surface. However you fish them, when stopped the legs dangle and wiggle which seems to turn on the barra and sooty. At night the white frog is the easiest to see and it also works really well during the day, with the added benefit that they can be used over lilies and weed beds without the dreaded treble tangles – a top lure there is no doubt.
The dilemma facing Mackay area anglers during December, is just where to fish? Offshore, inshore, mangrove creeks, or red hot dams, we have it all and there are plenty of options and opportunities to round out the year on a high note. So why not come and join us in paradise? See you at the ramp.Reads: 615