Seeing red on the reefs!
  |  First Published: January 2016

The New Year is already here, and the resolutions have been penned – most of which will be short lived. No doubt there are a few out there who indulged a little too much and embarrassed themselves at the work Christmas party. No need to hide in shame though! There’s a whole year to make up for any impropriety!

The holiday season is in full swing and we have seen a great number of boaties on the water enjoying our beautiful watery back yard. We’ve also seen some wild action. A fellow ocean goer, who obviously didn’t do his research before heading out on the blue, ignored the warning markers, which resulted in a dangerous accident while travelling at speed across a shallow fringing reef. The Whitsundays are riddled with reefs and rocks, and while they are beautiful, they are a lot less welcome when you run aground. Hitting these areas can result in a damaged boat, damaged ego and worse, injury to yourself and your passengers. Before heading out on unfamiliar waters, always do your research, and consult appropriate charts and literature on the area you intend to go out and have fun. This will ensure your trip will be enjoyable, and not leave you red faced or worse.

Terrific fun has been had in the past month with good reports of fishing both in our local estuaries, and offshore. The local estuaries have produced fantastic numbers of the usual suspects including mangrove jack, bream and flathead. This should continue into the coming month. Mudcrabs have been a little hit and miss over the past month as we haven’t seen too much rain, but there are still a few getting around which should result in a few feeds. Once some decent rain falls (fingers crossed) the crabs should start moving in more numbers, so target them around this time.

Fishing among the islands has produced solid numbers of coral trout, sweetlip and nannygai. Look for these tasty little morsels in the usual haunts – fringing reefs, rocky points and small island shoals. The outer islands and shoals have been smashed by huge numbers of cobia that fight hard and taste great! Cobia are delicious, whether prepared as sashimi or cooked. Among the cobia we have caught excellent numbers of large-mouth nannygai and red emperor. Large-mouth nannygai to 13kg have graced us with their presence and really test out our gear and stamina with their huge powerful lunges and aggressive fight. On average they have been around 4-6 kilos, which is still a significant size.

Gold spot cod are still out and about, and are good to take for a delicious feed. I’m sure some of you are still yelling “Griffo, you’re mad!” – but hopefully my last report on the old hard done by gold spot encouraged you to go against all you know and take that leap of faith, stepping into the dark realm of eating a cod. We should expect the same fishing this month so drop some well-rigged flesh baits to the bottom out there and hold on.

One thing on our agenda has been overnight trips to the outer Great Barrier Reef. On these trips we have experienced good fishing, mixed with a few slower days. We’ve had good numbers of red throat emperor, but the coral trout have been hard work. Some large Spanish mackerel and GT have been loitering around the reef edges so a little slow troll or cast may be in order.

Several of our clients have undertaken the task of doing battle with these brutes of the blue. Casting large poppers and stickbaits into the pressure points of the reefs should see you land some mighty GT this month. But be prepared to be humiliated. They really are one of the best sportfish to grace our oceans. For a little less exploding-muscle style fishing, there are solid numbers of longtail and mac tuna still around. Keep an eye out for birds working the bait schools and you shouldn’t be too far away from a battle with a tuna. Metal slugs cast just ahead of the schools with a fast retrieve is probably the easiest way to snag a few.

Remember to slip slop slap this month, and drink plenty of fluids (not beer) as it really starts to heat up. You don’t want to find yourself burning to a crisp, becoming dehydrated and ruining a good trip out.

Good luck with the New Years resolutions and bring on another good year of fishing.

• If you’re interested in a game, sport or reef fishing charters around the Whitsundays, give Luke a call on 0429 724 822 or email --e-mail address hidden--

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