Tackle a GT – mouthguards are mandatory!
  |  First Published: April 2016

Finally some decent rain has fallen this month giving our farmers a little relief and putting a smile on the local barra fishers’ faces. We saw some minor flooding, which resulted in pockets of fresh run-off, luring many of the local fishers out of the pub, and hooking straight into some great barra fishing.

Trying your hand for a leaping barramundi this month should see you rewarded. I can hear you saying, “Griffo you lunatic! I’m new to barra fishing. Where can I find one?”

There are many places where the mighty chrome warriors like to hang out. Good places to start looking are the small drains of running water that feed the main creeks and rivers, right up in the upper reaches of the estuary systems, especially during times of heavy rainfall and flooding. A well-placed bait or lure around the mouth (where the drain/gutter meets the main system) of the aforementioned drains should grace you with the presence of a head shaking leap and punishing fight with a barramundi. But don’t get disheartened if you lose a few, as they are renowned for launching clear of the water, shaking those hooks free, and leaving a bad taste in your mouth.

That rain I mentioned earlier has increased mudcrab activity, resulting in pretty much everyone bagging a few delicious crustaceous. Drop in a few pots while you’re lurking around hunting down that barra. Even as I write this article, I am enjoying for some sweet sweet mudcrab goodness – lucky me!

Some good fish have been caught throughout the islands. We are seeing sweetlip, large-mouth nannygai to 10kg, small-mouth nannygai, along with red emperor. The deeper waters to around 70m have been holding the larger fish, while the shallower shoals seem to be holding the more average-sized models. Goldband snapper are around in patches as well, which is a welcome sight to our eyes as they fight very hard for their size and are an incredibly tasty fish to boot! You will usually find them in among those red fish on the deeper shoals over 60m, more toward the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef has fished well, producing great numbers of quality fish. Coral trout, red-throat emperor and red emperor have really been on the bite, to the delight of those who enjoy a fresh feed of fish. If you are lucky enough to venture out this month, get these three species on your hit list.

Some large bait schools have been present around the reefs, which has encouraged many to start dragging around lures and baits, and others to start hurling around artificials. These large bait schools have been holding a wide variety of fish including longtail tuna, mac tuna, Spanish mackerel, GT and marlin, to name a few usual suspects. Finding large bait schools out at the reef this month should see you in a tussle with at least one of these species.

The GT have fired up on the reef edges and have really put the punters and the gear to the test. Large fish to 40kg have been boated, with many larger fish destroying gear, egos and wallets. To find these brutes is quite simple, just look for some nice fast moving water on a pressure point of the reef, and look for bait schools holding up in the backwater. A common baitfish found here are fusiliers. This is a great place to start if you see them hanging tightly together in a large group.

Cast large poppers and stickbaits at the reef edge where the bait is holding. Make sure you are ready, as once you hook-up they will try to pull your arms out of their sockets with powerful surges and due to the immense drag pressure required to stop them busting you up on the sharp coral as they head for home! Battling them to deep water as soon as physically possible is the key, keeping them away from the sharp structures in the shallows. This will give you the best chance of landing that fish of a lifetime – if you aren’t already lying on the floor, veins blown out your forehead, waving your white flag above your head in agony.

I often get a first hand look at a lot of people who seriously underestimate the sheer power of these fish. They usually have a little chuckle when they see the size of the terminal tackle we use for them. Then it’s us that get to have the last laugh watching them fight a runaway GT. I know a lot of people who actually have a workout program at the gym before going on trips chasing GT – even anglers who wear mouthguards to stop their teeth from chipping! Gluttons for punishment I say.

Speaking of gluttonous, I’m off to eat the rest of my mud crabs. Good luck if you are heading out this month to enjoy the paradise we call home!

• 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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