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Silly season sails
  |  First Published: December 2015



The silly season is upon us already for another year, and for some people it’s a time for winding down and indulging. For the rest of us, it’s a combination of overindulging and racing to cram everything in before Christmas. My experience is usually the latter!

November finally delivered our usual calmer northerly winds for this time of year, which saw plenty of us able to grab the boat and wallow in our bluewater fix! The fishing has certainly hotted up around the beautiful Whitsundays, and this will continue into the Christmas period. The largemouth nannygai and red emperor have well and truly moved in around the outer islands and reefs, along with the usual suspects for this time of year in the form of cobia and fingermark.

Cobia numbers should be on the increase over December, and we have already seen a fair few come aboard on our charters. Cobia are a fantastic fighting fish and fare well on the table. Tell-tale signs of a cobia fight are brutal lunges toward the bottom followed by a run up to the surface out wide of the boat. Once on the surface, a lot of people mistake these fish for sharks, so keep a sharp eye and always have a second look. A variety of techniques can secure you a fight with these boof-headed brutes. These include trolling lures and baits and vertical jigging, or just bottom fishing with baits. It all depends on the energy you wish to exert!

Another fish which has exerted a lot of our punters’ energy is the awe-inspiring billfish. Some solid numbers have popped up around the Whitsundays over the last month, which is always a welcome sight, especially for us billfishing tragics. I believe they are some of the coolest fish on the planet so I encourage a lot of people to try their hand at chasing them. Don’t be afraid to try something new! Catching a feed of fish doesn’t have to be the be-all and end-all.

The outer reefs have also been fishing well and we have seen numbers of tuna schools increasing over the past month out wide. Truckloads of mac tuna have been smashing up bait schools, along with longtail tuna and Spanish mackerel. As always, look for the birds circling and diving, and try casting small metals, stickbaits and poppers at the bust-ups on the surface. Trolling small skirts and hardbodies are an option for the more relaxed angler. After all, it is that time of year!

ESTUARIES

It’s also the time of year to head down to the estuaries and see what you can catch as the weather heats up. Mud crabs have been around in good numbers and have been quite full, so dropping in a pot is a must. If you do head down to the local creeks for a spot of crabbing and fishing, remember that barramundi are still off limits until 1 February next year. It is important not to disturb these fish over this period.

However, all is not lost! Mangrove jacks and fingermark are making their presence felt, and they’re great fun to target on artificials. Look for sunken snags and rocky/oyster bottom to find these aggressive hunters, and don’t give them an inch. They are one family of fish that can really fight, and they certainly know where home is! During your hunt, if you do manage to snag a bycatch of barra, it’s crucial to release them as soon as possible in a healthy condition. Leaving them in the water while retrieving your hook is generally the best way to go.

Speaking of going, that’s all from me this month. Please remember to have fun out on the water in moderation this silly season, as help is usually far away and you need your wits about you if something does go wrong. Stay safe during the holiday period, merry Christmas I’ll see you in the New Year!

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