It’s May in Tropical North Queensland and the spray jackets and jumpers should definitely be stowed in the boat for those early morning sessions or those late night journeys. In comparison to the rest of Queensland, Lucinda doesn’t get real cold but flying along in a boat around sunrise or sunset will chill you to the bone, so it pays to layer up.
The good thing is that it will only take an hour or so after that sun rises and temperatures will be tropical perfection again. Add to this the fact that the fishing should be going off and you will be sweating in no time. We ended up getting some decent rain in Lucinda and this has meant the upper catchments and rivers have had a flush, which in turn should equal epic fishing. There is still a chance of a late rain event so fingers crossed. The bigger the wet season the better the fishing for the following years.
Fishing the channel in May can be difficult as water temperatures have started to drop and the water is clearing up. The southerly trade winds have normally started to kick in and they can switch the fish off very quickly.
Barramundi will still be on the cards, but can prove very moody with very short bite windows. I find live baiting, especially around the late afternoon tide change, normally the best method of getting fish into the boat. Finding a small feeder creek or big drain and anchoring across it with some live mullet swimming about as the tide starts to push in should see rods getting bent.
For those wanting to target barra on lures, trolling big hardbodies around the edges of the channel or drop-offs in front of creeks is a good way to pass a few hours and find some fish. The best thing about trolling in Lucinda is the scenery is always breathtaking and makes the time between fish pass quicker.
A handy hint for effective trolling is choosing the right lure in terms of diving depths. In most cases, you will want your lure to be running around a meter off the bottom, as most of the time the barra will be sitting down deep. Obviously, if you are finding fish on your sounder that are sitting shallower, then using a lure to swim at that depth is needed.
Pay attention to your sounder and make changes when necessary, it is near pointless if your lure is ploughing through the bottom most of the time (unless you want flathead) or if your lure is swimming on the surface in 8m of water. And when you find solid fish shows, give them several passes, as you will often get a hit if you annoy them enough.
For the anglers wanting to throw lures and plastics about, then the mighty mangrove jack should still be on the prowl and feeding up before the water drops too much and they go into hibernation.
At this time of year, the water is always a little clearer and it is quite possible to use stealth and sight cast to jacks in the snags. Using poppers or unweighted plastics rigged weedless is an awesome way to get the adrenalin pumping. Witnessing that flash of red before they hit is not easily forgotten. Picking any of the creeks up the channel and working your way upstream with the tide will see you tangle with these aggressive brawlers.
Small to mid-size hardbodied lures and soft plastics rigged weedless are all perfect for jacks. You just want to be able to land casts right in the structure, and as a rule if you are not getting snagged occasionally, you are not getting close enough. Mangrove jacks live right in tight to their chosen ambush spots and although they are aggressive feeders, they tend to not stray too far from their home to feed.
Both silver and golden grunter have been gracing the eskies of those out fishing bait in the rubble areas and creek mouths. These fish are always about in better numbers after we get some rain and run off. Anyone who wants a great chance of getting into these hard-fighting and tasty fish should look no further than the Lucinda service jetty. The hours around the tide changes fish best and tides with only 1-1.5m difference means you can fish all day or night. Any bigger tides and you will need several house bricks as sinkers to stay on bottom as the tide screams through this area. Squid or sardines is the better baits and as always fresh is best.
The jetty will be starting to provide hours of entertainment with big schools of queenies moving in. They can be caught all day, but the afternoon bite is by far the best. Queenies can be caught using a variety of methods, but when they’re in the mood, catching them on surface is by far the best.
If fishing with a few people from the boat and someone hooks up, it should be as easy as the other angers casting or dropping down near the hooked fish and they should be on as well. It’s not uncommon to be unhooking a queenie beside the boat and there be several of its friends just free swimming around it.
Spanish mackerel should now be congregating on the reef points and off the Palm Islands, so heading out for a morning troll while the sun rises is a relaxing and most of the time very rewarding way to put a few tasty Spaniards in the boat. Deep divers that can be trolled around the 6-8km/h mark or slow trolled gar will see action. It is most important to find the baitfish, which will have mackerel in the area at some stage. Just strolling in circles around this bait will see rods getting bent.
This time of year the southeast trades will be consistent and they can be quite nasty, as they will normally whip up bigger seas than the northerlies in summer. So as always, watch the weather and pay attention to what’s happening around you. Good luck and see you on the water.Reads: 600