The opening of barra season seemed an eternity away, but finally the closed season is over and our beloved and ferocious target species is back on the Central Queensland hit list. The weather in January was decent enough for many anglers to get out and catch a few good ones. The estuaries fish nicely, and the freshwater areas perform well in the afternoons.
Closed season is over for our region as of midday 1 February. With the gates closed throughout most of summer, the Fitzy is extremely salty all the way through to the 400m mark, which means the fish will certainly be active. There are many great places to target in close vicinity to the city’s boat ramps, incuding the rocks at the 400m mark, the rocks around the two bridges, and the deep channel just down from Gavial Creek. The salmon have responded to lightly weighted plastics and flies. Use a prawn-like or small minnow pattern. There have been numerous mangrove jacks caught around the area recently, most of them react to soft plastics like gulp shrimp and minnows and hardbodies like Luckycraft Pointers and Atomic Shiners.
The creeks and beaches have reportedly fired for large bream and flathead in the deeper parts of the water. Areas to target for flathead are channel mouths or drop-offs in the channel, from knee-deep water rapidly dropping to water over a metre deep. The bream on the other hand, especially the pikey bream have been a very common catch for people heading down to places like Wild Cattle Creek, The Narrows and Coorooman, along with Moses perch and the odd grunter. Cod have been in the thousands and will take almost any lure or bait thrown at them. The best places to target the majority of these estuary species would be headlands along the beaches, and on a calm day can even result in queenfish and trevally. Medium running bream styled hardbodies have worked well – use a natural baitfish pattern to achieve good results. These lures typically dive 1-2m and are around 40-50mm long.
The combination of summer heat, light rain to storms, and abundance of small baitfish has turned the fresh right up. The best areas are around the lilies or tree lines where baitfish gathers and predator fish like barra and tarpon, even catfish and large perch come to hunt. These species can successfully be targeted on surface using walk-the-dog style action with stickbaits, rather than poppers, which haven’t worked as well due to a lack of rain. Sub-surface plastics like a lightly weighted ZMan or Atomic Plazos worked around the edges of the structure with a slow roll or slow twitch can trigger a strike.
The crabs are extremely active and filled to the brim with meat. A recent influx of freshwater in the system should keep the crabbing at the port going strong as the water upstream carries a lot of muck and dead organisms that crabs like to feed on. Check out your local tackle store for any advice, or for the lowdown on the rules and regulations.
Remember – fish light, get the bite.Reads: 394