Just after I wrote last month’s column, our region finally received a very welcome drenching. Over 600mm in 10 days was enough to get the flood plains running and our lagoons full. It also gave our barra the much-needed trigger to go and spawn, and we can tell because all the big girls disappeared from their usual haunts and took some time to return. While we have been having a ball catching smaller fish on lures, the bigger fish are only just starting to show up again. The few we have caught have been long and skinny, showing that they did finally drop their eggs. Hopefully they have given the recruitment cycle a good kickstart once again.
Casting hardbodies around the rivers that have freshwater catchments has been productive, with around 10-20 barra in the 55-80cm bracket per session. While they aren’t monsters, they are certainly a lot of fun. Having a good barra smash a hardbody lure on the retrieve always gets the adrenalin going. Our barra should start to settle down and get back to their normal routines over the coming weeks.
Mangrove jacks have been in plague proportions. Chasing jacks is not something I normally do with our charters these days, seeing as the barra demand is so high, but recently I got a chance to go have some fun on these little brutes. I can’t remember how many we caught but was well over 20 for the session, and sometimes up to 10 fish would follow our surface lures out. It’s an exciting way to fish for them, as opposed to the old fashioned mullet strips and pillies.
Golden snapper (fingermark) virtually disappeared when we got the big inundation of freshwater, which is what they normally do in this situation. They have returned slowly during the past few weeks and should be back to normal as soon as more salty water returns. If you are going to target them you should try small soft vibes and live herring for the best results. They will still mostly be in deeper waters for another month or two. Missionary Bay has been producing the better results so far, especially while the channel has been cleaning up after the rains.
While we have been targeting school-sized barra on the flats of late we have noticed an abundance of tripletail working the dirty water edges. They are normally found hanging around floating structure or pylons, and are an easy target with a hardbody lure as they are suckers for them. Tripletails are popular with flyfishers too as they are great fighters and pull as hard as any fish twice their size. Some people might think they look a little ugly, but they are certainly unique and very tasty on the dinner table.
Fishing during May should be much the same, but we may see some early Spaniards arrive in the channel and inshore islands, and the northern bluefin tuna should come in closer to the coast. Metal slices are the way to go for both species, however large slices are better for Spaniards and small slices better for the blues.
Another species that may arrive just as the water starts to cool a little is the golden trevally. They are a versatile sportfish and can be targeted off deeper headlands with vibes and plastics as well as trolling the reef edges around the islands. They will also be seen up on the shallow reef flats with their tails waving out of the water while they forage for small crabs and the like. This is a great time to target them on fly.
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