Critters moving up the creeks
  |  First Published: October 2016

At the moment, there are so many options available to the local anglers; it’s just more a matter of deciding where to go.

The creeks and the river are fishing well, and offshore reports have been very pleasing. October usually has a fair run of decent weather, and there are so many options available with the amount of species on the chew. Quite often we get light southeasterlies in the morning and northeasterlies in the afternoon. This makes for comfortable offshore trips, where the majority of our wide fishing is done from east to north of Yeppoon.

Coral trout are here in good quantity from the deep water blue-spots to the barred-cheeks in very shallow waters. Barred-cheek trout can be pretty easy to find in the waters around all of our local islands and most of the headlands heading north from Rockhampton. Look around either coral or rock structures from a couple of metres to 20m or more where they face into prevailing conditions. They also prefer shaly plate type rock structures where they have cover from the sides and above. They will sit looking out watching for a feed to come to them. We have found that the majority of trout will sit on the pressure side of a feature and we seem to get very few on the lee side. As a rule, the bigger barred-cheeks are in the deeper parts of their range while you can catch just under to just legals in as little as two metres of water. There are lots of spearos and other fishers around The Keppels, so the bigger fish are always a bit harder to find, however most of them disregard spots that definitely hold fish.

My suggestion is to try any of the rubble country away from all the other boats and remember the country facing into the conditions is best. Many of our trout are still coming from plastics and the more natural colours have been working the best. The larger prawn colours in paddle-tail style are my go-to at the moment. The only issue we are finding is the tremendous amount of wire-netting and gold-spot cod around.

Vibes are another great trout catcher where you can get them close to the bottom. Their issue is the cost when you tally the losses at the end of the day. Trout will take nearly any type of lure you can get to the zone, although we still get a few that take lures and baits meant for mackerel at times.

Blue-spot or footballer trout have come in a bit from the deep country lately and more captures are occurring in the waters just past the islands in 20-30m. Live baits and big fresh slabs are the preferred presentations, although many trout get taken on a common old pilly. The option of a reasonable sized livey takes all the pickers and smaller fish out of play. When you do get something on a big livey, it’s usually a substantial fish, even when it isn’t a trout. Our red emperor spots hold quality trout closer to the structures than the rubblier country preferred by the reds.

Largemouth nannygai are in form of late and this time of year is normally prime time. They can be taken among the big reds at the wider fern country at about 60m or more. They also come in quite close to the pinnacle type spots, the ferny rubble patches, and all of the wrecks. If you don’t have set spots and are travelling any distance to chase other stuff, it pays to check out the contours. The little contour circles on the charts signal there is some type of feature, whether it’s a rise or a hole. These are the places to look for a number of species and any time these combine with bait schools there should be reds, nannies or some other predators in the close proximity.

Some of the local northern grunter spots are great nanny grounds too, and you will find the nannies around the bigger part of the structures, while the grunters are often sitting under the current in the trenches or in the pressure waves in front of the structure. Most of the favourite offshore species are very active at the moment, from sweetlip to parrot, reds and jobfish.

King threadfin fishing has improved and they are moving up the river. As the water is returning to normal, the baitfish have started returning and with them the other fish such as barramundi and king threadfin. There are some top spots where they can be either trolled or cast to almost into the town reaches. The best chance of catching threadies is to watch your sounder and locate the schools.

Downstream from the bridges near the moored boats is one of the better areas, and the stretch from Gavial Creek downstream is the other excellent spot. When the river is dirty, use the brighter colour lures and when the water is cleaner, use natural colours. Vibes are by far the weapon of choice for the better part of the salmon chasers.

Some of the areas where the king schools hold can be trolled with divers that run just shy of the bottom. We found that rattlers caught more fish in the dirty water. Live bait is usually pretty hard to find in the river, so we catch it from the beach on the way up to Rocky, unless there are prawns about. I still like to have a cast into any of the muddy running gutters along the river banks, because not only is there a chance of a salmon, but barra often wait for a feed in the same place.

Barramundi did eventually slow down a bit around the region and are well and truly on the increase again. The bigger fish are moving back into the estuaries. Maybe it’s just the better sounders and sidescan units we have at our fingertips now that make the difference, because I have never seen this amount of barra schooled up in holes. Several of the bigger systems with holes near the mouths have had schools of large barramundi, although the hard part was getting them to take a lure or a bait. We would locate the school and cast everything that could reach them and get no lookers. Sometimes, they would move out of the way of a lure! We tried different tides, weather conditions and all the variables we could think of without success. Then all of a sudden, they would go on the chew for a short period and stop again. Now that the weather has warmed a little bit and they are on the move, it won’t take long until the catch rate takes a hike.

Golden snapper (fingermark), mangrove jack, whiting, bream and flathead are the species feeding well at the moment, so it looks like it is going to be a great month.

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