Another year nearly gone and am hoping everyone has had their share of bent rods and screaming drags. Everyone should have written out their Christmas wish lists and accidently left them in plain sight for the other half to see. So after an insane few months here at Lucinda, let’s get down to business and see what will be bending rods this month.
The channel will be on fire in many ways as it will be stinking hot and humid and the fish should be biting their heads off. As barra are off limits, the mangrove jack will be top of the list with golden snapper (fingermark) and grunter. The best time to be chasing those red dogs is the first few hours of the incoming tide.
If you pay attention you can normally hear and see them harassing bait schools in close to the mangroves. The tricky part is to be able to present your lure or plastic close enough to get their attention and the hit.
Mangrove jacks hit hard and fast and they will run straight for cover, so it is very important for you to be on the ball. I like to plan my rod angles and always be ready to use the boat if possible to help you get the advantage. I will always have the electric motor set on a fast speed and the foot doesn’t go far from the control.
If they make it back into their home, you can quickly go in attempt to pull them out (trust me, they will make it home plenty of times).
The thing I enjoy the most about chasing mangrove jacks is the tricky casting you need in most situations. And those casts where you just shake your head and smile, as you know that if a jack hits you now… there is nothing you can do.
I have probably wrote this several times, but if you haven’t tried the new Snakelockz jigheads from TT lures you are missing out. They are deadly and perfect for jack fishing into tight structure. If you are not bumping your lure or plastic into the snags or swimming them through and over some horrible country, you are not in the right spot for jacks.
Bait fishers can get into the jack action by gathering some fresh bait or the humble half pilchard. Fishing them unweighted and allowing them to wash into the snags with the wind or current will see you get into some action. Live baits also work well for jacks and fishing them under a float will allow for less snagging.
Golden snapper will still be about in the channel but the better fish will be in deeper waters off headlands and wrecks over summer. Smaller schooling size fish can still be caught in good numbers, especially at night. The Hinchinbrook Channel is littered with deep channels and rocky gravel areas, which will have golden snapper in residence. These same spots should also see you hooking up to big oceanic grunter (javelin fish) and the odd black jew or threadfin salmon. From reports the threadfin have been quite but this is normal, as we haven’t had a decent wet season for years.
Hot and humid afternoons popping the jetty will tire you out but the rewards can be insane as during summer the big GT take up residence. The best days to chase GT are the slightly windier days, as you will normally have the jetty to yourself, a little rain squall at times will help as well.
It is better to stay some distance off the area you are going to fish as you don’t want to spook them. Check the wind and current and set up drifts where you can lob casts into and under the jetty… and hang on. It is always brutal battling GT but fighting them around the jetty is hectic. You want to be prepared with good gear and strong knots, and trust me when I say, GT will find any weakness in your gear quickly.
The Palm islands will offer some awesome longtail tuna action if you can manage to chase down a school. Longtail can be the most annoying tuna to chase down as they will be smashing the heck out of bait schools until you get close enough for a cast, then disappear only to appear where you just came from. But once hooked up, they offer terrific fun, with long braid-stealing runs and stubborn below boat circle work. Throwing small slugs or small plastics is the best method, but somtimes lobbing small poppers can also work a treat as it will sometimes attract their attention away from the bait there feeding on.
It’s action stations out on the reef if weather allows you to get out there. During summer it is really only the locals at the ramp so the fishing pressure is more relaxed. The deeper areas normally produce better catches as fish seem to move deeper following the suitable water temperatures.
Trout fishing in water around 28-35m should see you spending some time filleting fish that night. Summer months are also awesome for chasing trophy red fish in the deep water. Make sure you keep a good eye on the horizon as some serious summer storms can brew up quickly and really make things uncomfortable. There is something about dropping the anchor into 60m and sending some big baits down for reds as the sun sets.
For the sports fishing nuts (I put my hand up) the shelf is calling with plenty of line burners all lining up to test the drag systems of your reels. Dogtooth tuna are schooled up and hungry so dropping knife jigs into 120m, gritting your teeth, and getting your jig on is not for the faint-hearted, but oh-so-exciting when that jig gets smashed. I can already hear the braid screaming off the reel and feel the back hurting just remembering the brutal battles that took place last year.Reads: 504