The distance between now and Christmas is an ever shortening one, so Suntag decided to get in early and think ahead to the fishing opportunities to come in 2016. As we are unashamed data, it seems appropriate that we dig into the data and see what it can tell us about the fishing opportunities on offer.
In order to keep this exercise relevant, we are only looking at data since 1 January 2013, so it’s recent data and only sites where there have been at least 100 fish tagged. We are using several measures – average size of fish recorded, % legal and catch per person per day. In terms of ranking we are ranking on average size.
If your area isn’t on the list and you think it should be – join Suntag, get tagging and prove us wrong!
Where to go – for big barra, impoundments and Gladstone region. Best chance of scoring a barra – Fitzroy River or Wiepa.
Over the past 20 years there has been a divide between the impoundment barra scene and wild barra. This is reflected for example in the fact that ANSA Queensland has separate categories for impoundment barra and wild barra in its annual length completion. There should be some consternation in ANSA over the fact that the leader in ‘wild’ barra section for the length competition are from the Calliope River and are almost certainly Awoonga escapees.
Around four years ago the place to be was definitely the Fitzroy River, but that fishery has pegged back some. With the NFZ, five years time may be a very different story. As of now though, the bigger barra are still in the impoundments or escapees. The Fitzroy River end of Curtis Island is also good for the big barra. That was one wild barra area that fired for bigger barra during the bounty and has consistently delivered over the past 2 years.
Weipa is the obvious hidden gem, the average sizes are smaller but the catch rates are much higher than anywhere else in the state.
King Ash Bay is another hidden gem, especially if you can manage longer boat travel. King Ash Bay has the advantage of a huge range of exciting species to pass the time with when the barra aren’t on the bite. If you aren’t myopic about your barra, you would be hard pressed to find a site with as many opportunities for freaky fishing.
Where to go – Brisbane River or Rockhampton.
Suntag is data poor on king threadfin outside of Rockhampton and Brisbane. In part, that is because thready tactics have been mastered among fishers in those areas but are yet to make it out wider. Expect that to change over time. Fishers have had good success in the Mary River region as well but unfortunately no tagging has been done.
Brisbane is still the thready capital when it comes to size, though they are getting to be harder work.
Right now though, if you want some thready action the only place to be thinking is the Fitzroy. The catch this year at the bounty nearly exceeded all previous catches at the bounty combined. With no nets in the New Year, there will be no better place to get your thready fix.
The Nicholson River region in the gulf country could be the well-hidden gem. Looking at the commercial catch records this has been a consistent producer of threadfin and really you can’t get more ‘away’ from it.
Where to go – Gladstone Region or Baffle Creek.
There is less of a difference in the mangrove jack fisheries across the state than for barra, where there is a big variance on catch rates and sizes. When it comes to fishing experience the jack, has it all, no wonder they are so heavily targeted.
If a wider array of species is in your thinking, Gladstone should be top of the list in terms of targeting Jacks. If food species with a better than average chance of a jack is in your thinking the Baffle Creek is hard to pass up. Trinity Inlet is one of the areas marked as an NFZ and as such would be another to add to the list if you are heading up to Cairns.
Hinchinbrook Channel has always been one of the go to places for jacks, but the catch rates have fallen off after the cyclone a few years back. As cycles go, Hinchinbrook will make a come back and there is still a lot of good fishing as evidenced by one our Hall of Fame taggers heading that way twice in recent months.
Where to go – Bundaberg or Maryborough and Hervey Bay.
Gladstone keeps throwing up surprises when it comes to fishing data. For an environment that has been heavily industrialised it has come up trumps for more species than any other. Despite every reason to suggest otherwise, Gladstone might just be the go to fishing destination in the coming year. The catch rate for Gladstone is inflated by the Boyne Tannum Hookup but the average is still pretty eye-catching.
After that, the Burnett River is definitely the first choice site. An excellent catch rate and average as well as good offshore and inshore fishing otherwise means plenty of ways to fill in your time. A mild climate and beach camping make it a very attractive package, especially for fishing families.
Hervey Bay is the pick of the hidden gems. While the data is a little light on, the average 337mm is excellent. Looking at surrounding catch rates, the whole region is excellent for bream and only a short drive from Brisbane. Given all the options the Frazer coast snagging some serious bream is as good an excuse as any to take advantage.
Where to go – Gladstone.
Going back in time, Moreton Bay and the Gold Coast was definitely the go to place for flathead. The Gold Coast Flathead Classic is one of the bigger events on the calendar. Moreton Bay is still a great place to find fish smaller then 700mm but Bundaberg and Rodds Bay lead the field by a large margin in that department.
Yet again, though it’s Gladstone that has powered on in terms of flathead with three sites out of five having the three biggest averages. Must be something in the water…
While we have less data, the Mary River average of 601mm once again makes that Frazer Coast region a great place to try your luck.
Where to go – Baroon Pocket, Lake Moogerah or Lake Samsonvale
If you are thinking of a little bass impoundment action there are plenty of options. If it’s size you are looking for, the larger impoundments such as Somerset and Wivenhoe (not listed but the average is 410mm) are the best options.
Overall though, it’s the smaller impoundments around Brisbane that have been the best balanced performers. With average sizes climbing over the past couple of years and superior catch rates for the regulars, it’s hard to pass them by. Just watch the peak tourist seasons though as traffic can get fierce.
For some testing old school bass fishing, try Wallaville on the Upper Burnett. While there have been only 65 fish recorded there in that date range, the average size is 465mm.
|Location||No.||% legal||% >1m||Average (mm)||No./person/day|
|Peter Faust Dam||138||93||25||881||2.7|
|Location||No.||% legal||% >900mm||Average (mm)||No./person/day|
|Port of Brisbane||160||98||78||976||3.4|
|Location||No.||% legal||% >400mm||Average (mm)||No./person/day|
|Location||No.||% legal||% >350mm||Average (mm)||No./person/day|
|North Moreton Bay||113||95||9||291||3.0|
|South Moreton Bay||551||68||3||264||4.3|
|Location||No.||% legal||Average (mm)||No./person/day|
|Location||No.||% legal||% >450mm||Average (mm)||No./person/day|