Know where to look in Hinchinbrook
  |  First Published: August 2016

In recent weeks, we have seen fluctuations in weather and water temperature that many shallow water demersal species are not too fond of. Some days are brilliant and others just don’t produce at all. This is the case with every winter season in the tropics, as we are prone to the colder wind bursts on some occasions. Then it warms up again before another cold front hits.

At least down south it stays cold most of the time. The fluctuations we get up here are a bit more spread apart and that’s what hurts the inshore species. When this occurs, you may be better off targeting queenfish, golden trevally and Spaniards. Give the barra and golden snapper a miss.

Species that don’t mind the cold and the weather changes are golden trevally, diamond trevally and northern bluefin tuna. All these can be caught around the inner islands as well areas in the shipping channel, such as wrecks, shoals and wonky holes. Most of these species are fond of metal slices. The trevally are also good on vibes or plastics when they are closer to the bottom, during periods of smaller tide movement.

The estuaries have been a little up and down. I have still managed some nice barra in the 90cm bracket on better days, though. I’ve heard of drain fishers having some reasonable sessions too, but good days have been sporadic. Barra need a lot going in their favour to bite consistently during winter.

Other estuary species have had mixed results too. Golden snapper, grunter and salmon show up here and there. If any one species has been a little more consistent, it’s the mangrove jack. They are still an easy catch in winter because they don’t move around or leave the estuaries. They always stay home where they have good cover. In other words, they are a species that’s always there. You just have to persist on the harder days, and enjoy the rewards on the good days.

During August we enter the prime period for bluewater fishing, namely the juvenile black marlin and sailfish. The small black marlin are found around bait schools in the shipping lane, or what’s known as the inner lagoon of the Great Barrier Reef. The bait schools are usually yakkas and pilchards.

A good indicator to look for is gannets working an area. Always maintain a watch on them, if you can see them in the distance. As soon as one bird dives in, you know there’s definitely bait there. Head on over and have a good look around, while maintaining a troll pattern of skipping gar and swimming baits. Use gar or mullet for the swimming baits. Try not to troll directly through the bait schools and instead keep your baits just wide of them, if at all possible.

Sailfish can also be found in these areas, but the best place to look for them is on the deeper waters around reef entrances. The southern end of most reefs up here seems to be a preferred location. The exact same bait patterns work for sailfish and it’s always handy to keep some live yakkas at the ready, to drop back to any fussy fish. This applies to both species.

As far as the estuaries go in August, it will be much of the same scenario. As the coldest month for us, I’m sure we will see some shutdown periods once again. We have released our new site, www.fishsmarter.com.au, and there is good free content on there for those wanting to learn a few tips and tricks. We also have our online masterclasses, with their own private forums, and we have an open forum for visitors to the site too. We’ll be building the site further to include more free content and more species masterclasses.


Pelagics such as queenfish love these changing winter conditions.


Still some nice barras around when we get stable conditions.

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