Threadfin salmon and big grunters are still fair game in the estuaries but as closed season is upon us, barra are off limits as a target species unless you venture to places such as Lake Awoonga. The beaches are packed with whiting and bream in the gutters ready for the Christmas break.
In the past month some terrific threadfin ‘king’ salmon have been caught along the Fitzroy as well as the odd mulloway. These fish have been pulled off rock patches and rubble beds and will most likely stay available in these areas until after Christmas. A great place that many locals know and non-locals will easily recognise is the deep drop-offs past gavial creek on the southern side of the river. The narrows have also been quite productive with a few large jack reported from locals caught up amongst the timbers and mangroves. During the December period, the mangrove jacks become a heavily targeted species as a substitute barra. Many anglers choose to use smaller, more heavily weighted lures to entice the jacks but are still able to cast them with their standard barra gear. Some great lures include, Lucky Craft Pointer XD78, Atomic Plazos Prong and Zman 4” SwimmerZ. The suspending Lucky Craft can be worked with a few twitches at the snag, left for a bit and slow rolled back. The Atomic Prongs can be worked similarly, however, when left they will sink rather than suspend. Finally, the 4” SwimmerZ can be worked with varying lift and drop techniques to get the paddle tail working.
The local rivers, creeks and beaches will be fished heavier in the holiday period, as they are more accessible to anglers. Take this into consideration when planning your next trip, the beaches will have a higher number of people and the boat ramps will be no different. Deeper gutters and drop-offs have been fishing well and this will certainly not change through the next month, species like cod, flathead, and bream are dominant at the moment but the estuaries are full of other species to catch as well. Giant herring have become an increasingly common catch, which is a great sign for the local systems and adds another species to target for the day. Giant herring are also a good species to chase for anyone looking to get into flyfishing. As the water heats up in the middle of the afternoon, most species will move down into the deeper pockets of water, or to the shadows cast down by roots and mangroves or out into the cooler beach waters. Through November there have been massive amounts of prawns and herring in the systems, the prawns are still smaller but there are many reasonable sized herring in the systems.
Knowing what’s in the system at any point in time is essential to not only baitfishing but also lurefishing. Matching the hatch is the key phrase many people use, and there are many herring coloured lures and prawn imitation lures on the market to get you starteda. Using a lure that matches the bait source will increase your odds of hooking your next fish.
Tarpon are in high population and in the summer months just on dusk they really give any lure a beating. Never caught a fish on a lure before? Grab a small one – in many cases, small curl tails with as light a weight as possible are great – and slowly retrieve the lure back around tree lines or lily beds, working the lure the whole time. Many fish will go for curl tail plastics, the tail is active, which makes the lure look like a small, alive and healthy fish a predator would want to eat. Some days the water is just on fire with ripples and activity from fish, especially on really humid days with a shower of rain in the afternoon. Anything will work in these conditions, from lightly rigged to small hardbody minnows, and surface lures – they are just going off.
If you want to catch a crab or two, the best bait is mullet head with catfish a close second. Fortunately, mullet head can be bought from anywhere and take no time at all to rig a pot up with them. A simple bait clip between the eyes and the mullet head is good to go. Recently, the crabs have started coming back in big numbers but have been a little small. A week or so into December and they should get a fair amount of meat back on them as they start to feed well again.
I am a big believer in the motto ‘limit your kill – not kill your limit.’ This is important to remember at all times as the limits serve to protect fish populations so they can recover and continue to thrive. Christmas is also a great time to take kids or mates out fishing and teach them about this great pastime, hobby, and for many of us, a lifestyle.
I hope all the readers have a great time fishing and safe travels over the holiday period.
Fish light, get the bite!Reads: 525