In the last few months it has certainly cooled off, especially in the mornings and at night. For a while there it seemed as though winter was never going to set in, as we were having humid days with rain nearly every night.
The fishing has become a lot tougher in the channel and it has certainly been the case of making plenty of casts for little reward, but it’s a good thing that Hinchinbrook offers such amazing scenery, so a fish is a bonus. The bluewater fishing has been on fire, which is normally the case during winter, all we need is the wind to be kind and the rods will bend.
If you’re going to fish the channel, don’t be thinking you are going to have mind-blowing sessions. It is slower and tougher because of the cooler and clearer water. For those fishing with lures and plastics, it is very important to make pin point casts and I find a slow retrieve can still get bites. I like to use soft plastics and blades.
Use light gear and keep the lures close to the bottom. Grunter, mangrove jack, barra and golden snapper all love eating a vibe or plastic.
Bait fishing is always a safe option that should always get results. Taking the time to gather some fresh baits and being patient in your chosen spot should pay off. This time of year normally has plenty of small to mid-range prawns flicking around the drains, and these are the gun bait. Fish can’t resist a live or fresh prawn kicking around, so choose a creek mouth at low tide and fish the first few hours of the run-in. you could also head up a creek and fish a junction at the start of the run-out tide. The secret is to be fishing in areas that fish will pass through or be forced into due to water rising or falling. These spots will regularly produce fish and Hinchinbrook is full of these areas.
Winter months are also great for trolling for barra and jacks. Both these fish will be hanging deep in structure on the bottom. They may not be actively feeding, but if you troll lures over their heads enough they will eventually get annoyed and have a closer look. It is most important that whatever lure you choose to troll is only slightly running off the bottom. For instance, if the water depth is 6m, your lure should run at 5m. Using your rod tip to enhance your lures swimming action and the depth it runs is also important. Raising the rod tip high will make your lure swim upwards and a lower rod tip will have your lure diving deep. I prefer to find a stretch of a few hundred metres that holds good structure and bait and troll this back and forth many times instead of just trolling aimlessly.
I haven’t spent much time out on the bluewater recently, but the sessions I have had have been awesome. The stand out fish for me has been the golden trevally and a recent trip saw four anglers in two boats easily land 30+ big goldens. It was mayhem and I would have to put that day in the top three fishing sessions I have ever witnessed.
Golden trevally will happily eat most plastics and jigs, but the stand out on that day was the 60g Vector micro-jig from TT lures. Golden trevally feed close to the bottom, so if you want to chase these fish, it is important to keep your offering in this zone. The technique that worked on this particular day was simply a slow lift of the jig off the bottom about a metre and using the rod tip to lower it slowly back to the bottom.
There has been a few mackerel caught, but in comparison to the previous years it has been slower. I don’t know enough about this species to understand why numbers are down, but I would guess it has a lot to do with the lack of wet season flooding rains.
As always, the north end of Bramble Reef has been the Spanish mackerel hot spot, and trolling lures and floating pilchards have been the best techniques. The secret for catching mackerel is simple; find the bait and you will find the fish. Mackerel are ravenous feeders at this time of year, so they will stay close to the food. Strong currents will give away these locations, as it will force baitfish to stack up.
Nannygai have been about in the deep, but the best bite time is the afternoon and evening. Big squid baits on dropper rigs is all you need, but they will happily eat big flesh baits as well. Nannygai are not dirty fighters, but you want to be using strong gear to turn their head off the bottom and get them into the boat before the sharks find them.Reads: 242