October, bring on the mahi mahi
  |  First Published: October 2016

Find some floating debris or a bait school outside our Bunker Group of islands and reefs from October to December, you will find mahimahi. Truly a spectacular pelagic with everything you could want; hard fighting, vivid colour in the water and out, and great eating. These beautiful fish start their local run as the weather warms up, and are most prevalent here in November and December. You won’t find them on our reefs between 1770 and the islands, as they’re normally a deep ocean fish.

We often find them outside Lady Musgrave Island towards the shelf in early summer months. Find some noddy terns, over some floating weed or debris. Cast stickbaits into the action. With a swirl of vivid colour, and if you’re lucky – a surface plunge at your lure, will confirm one of nature’s most colourful predators, the magic mahimahi. The bull mahimahi has a bump like a snapper on its head. The female has a gentle sloping head, but unlike most female of any species, the colour is equally as vivid as the male.

September was flathead city in the local estuaries. Most anglers did well on soft plastics. Eurimbula Creek, just across the bay and 2km by sea from 1770, was fishing better than Round Hill Creek. It’s just a little more difficult to get to. Grey nomads, who represent much of our fishing population, don’t like crossing the bar at Eurimbula and it’s nearly 30km by 4WD. Despite this, it’s worth the trip. The fishing is rewarding and has great variety.

Salmon from the beach, school mulloway in the deep hole near the campground, elbow slapper whiting on the flats, mangrove jack in the holes and flathead on the drop offs into channels make Eurimbula Creek a fishing Nirvana close to 1770. Did I mention barra, November to February? Talking about barra, the thousands of females that were washed over the dam wall at Awoonga, near Gladstone in the floods a few years ago, are still producing offspring in our creeks. This should continue to improve our barra fishing.

If you fish from a kayak, Eurimbula is a half hour paddle from 1770. You’ll do well on the flathead with the stealth fishing a kayak affords. Please remember, it’s closed to crabbing, but locals pick up crabs by placing their pots 100m outside the mouth of the creek, which is legal.

The local trawler wrecks Barcoola, Shannon and Cetacea are supporting the yellowtail king and big trevally schools. They’re great fun on jigs near the wrecks, and when you get them to the surface, you’ll find they have a couple of mates following that can be targeted with stickbaits. If you can get past these thugs, gold-spot cod and other tasty reefies are hanging around the wreck.

A wet winter has changed our ecosystem. I’ve lived in 1770 since 1989 and never seen young prawns flicking in the creek in September. I think the coming months are going to be different fishing in our area. Also strange is the huge flock of cormorants, followed by a dozen pelicans, working unusually large bait schools inhabiting Round Hill Creek. Does this mean a very healthy ecosystem, with no industrial or farming run-off? Or is it a result of regular winter rain? I think the latter.

We know one thing, early prawns and constant bait schools mean excellent fishing in the months to come. It’s official from the grapevine – Spirit of 1770 will become a new fishing wreck. No news is good news in this case. There’s been no news on the local tourist catamaran, which caught fire and sank on its way back to 1770 from Lady Musgrave Island, four months ago. No one was hurt thanks to an excellent local coordinated rescue effort.

The authorities said they were going to salvage it, but that’s now a non-event, apparently. This means we have a large hull gathering marine growth in 30m of water not far from 1770 – that means great fishing. That brings our fishing wreck count within 30 miles of 1770 to four, all sunk after 1993.

Interestingly, our local wrecks all sank in areas containing no reef structure with kilometres of sand around them, meaning zero reef damage. As wrecks do, they create their own ecosystem by growing barnacles, coral, weed and more, then the small fish find shelter and trevally arrive, then kingfish and gold-spot cod. Other reefies follow and you have a fish city, all alone on a sandy bottom for us fishos to have fun.

When camping in 1770, stay at the boaties’ paradise, 1770 Camping Ground. See you at 1770


Trent says, if you can get past these thugs, gold-spot cod and other tasty reefies are hanging around the Shannon wreck.


Trent Jenkins with a Shannon gold-spot cod.


Chris Carnell was smashed by this yellowtail king on the Shannon.

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