Hot summer fishing has jacked up
  |  First Published: December 2016

Grunter are showing up in all the estuaries and are not a bad sized fish at present. Connors Creek through to the Narrows and Port Alma area of the river are doing very well. Pirates Point to Nerimbera is also turning out quality fish, and the trick here is to find the big white channel line markers on the banks, and watch your sounder as you come over the undulating bottom when you head towards the next marker.

This is prime grunter country because they can get out of the flow and get a feed without wasting energy. The area from Devils Elbow towards town is starting to produce again after the floodgates have been closed. The cleaner water has made it up into the town reaches and with it comes the grunter and king salmon. Grunter love big prawns over everything else, then yabbies and fresh flesh baits. I use a heavier bream rig with a fairly long trace as a rule, so the baits move around quite freely.

In recent times we have started putting out bigger baits on one or two heavy rods to handle the big black jew, which have been destroying our light gear while grunter fishing in the river. The surprising thing is that we have caught more during the day than at night and the moon doesn’t seem to influence them like the black jew offshore. Like all of our other grunter spots, it is possible to score a decent golden snapper as a very welcome by-catch. Even in the creeks and all of our offshore grunter spots you will find a number of golden snapper.

Coorooman Creek has a load of cockle bed rubble patches and deep holes where the grunter come on in big numbers and size, especially around the full moon and new moons. Waterpark Creek is very similar, and the best spot is the stretches down from Corbetts Landing to past the shacks. The Horseshoe at Kellys holds grunter at times but boat traffic can put them off the chew and send them to quieter locations.

Like last year, the cleaner water towards town has bought in very large schools of king salmon. Within a week or two of the barrage gates closing, the system took on another look from the dirty brown flowing mud to a shade of green. This signalled that the bait and all its followers would be moving upstream as well. The king are very active either side of Gavial Creek and can easily be found on your sounder. Trolling lures that run around 5m are probably the most productive, although it does get boing with the ease of scoring salmon, so we switch to vibes and blades.

Transam and Threadybuster style vibes can produce good captures of king while they are schooling. We have been playing around with blade vibes and found that kings like them, and when we drift away from the schools it isn’t uncommon to nail grunter. Most of the anglers who target king are into catch and release, which is pleasing when we think of what the river will be like in the future now that we have the net free zones in play too.

Mangrove jack have been reported in more catches lately than I can ever remember. Likely it’s the way we all have evolved in our fishing styles as opposed to growing numbers. I think they have always been here and the majority of locals have never fished for them in the way that the anglers in known jack hotspots do. A couple of recent excursions with some of the anglers around Bundy and Mackay have changed how I fish, or more likely expanded the range I fish. Most of my good mates are lure fishers with their specialties varying from flathead to barra, jacks and golden snapper. We all approach a stretch of water from a different perspective and read the systems structures differently too.

I’ve found, as primarily a barramundi lure fisher, that the main reason I was missing out on jacks is I was going to deep in depth and not deep enough into timber or under overhanging mangroves. Sure I have landed lots over the years as a fluky by-catch rather than trying to catch them. Now after quite a lot of practice and technique changes, my rate has improved. Using plastics, due to their versatility, there has been quite an evolution considering the forty odd years I’ve spent using hardbodies for everything from bream to wahoo.

Learning to fish like the anglers from other areas, has opened up so much more country that was virtually unfishable prior to the new style plastics and rigs becoming more available. The best thing for anyone who wants to target jack with plastics, is to get one of the many CDs on the market and study how and where to cast. With a bit of practice you can increase your captures and your enjoyment considerably.

There are lots of local systems that hold jacks, including Coorooman Creek, Pumpkin Creek, the Narrows and all the creeks running along Curtis Island, Corio and the Causeway Lake. The Causeway has always been a jack spot for the live baiters because of the many rock bars that surround the lake.

Blue salmon have arrived at plenty of locations along the coast in recent weeks and should be here for a while. They will take plastics, hardbodies and baits. Over the years we have used everything from pillies on gangs to yabbies, prawns, beach worms, herring and poddy mullet to catch them. The most likely spot is ‘The Timbers’ at Coorooman Creek, but at the moment Rundles, Long Beach, Pumpkin Creek, Ritamada Kinka Creek, Ross Creek, Barwells Creek and Corio Bay have numbers.

Inside the harbour is the easiest place to score salmon, especially when the bay is clean and there is plenty of herrings or northern pillies that come in and out of the harbour with the tides. At times, flicking an unweighted pilly between the Freedom Flyer and The Co-op can provide a good feed in no time. Fishing around the entrance can be very rewarding, by just throwing Pegrons, flashas or twisters wherever you see the bait schools.

Red Emperor, large mouth nannygai, grassy sweetlip, red throat and spangled emperor, coral trout, cod, hussar and parrot should be in supply enough to keep us all happy, provided the weather plays its part. The smaller tides have made fore better fishing as expected because you get a slower drift with far less weight to hold bottom. There are plenty of fine reefies in at the closer patches, although the wider areas are fishing the best.

The Christmas Spanish mackerel run is due to show any time now. Outer, Man and Wife and Cape Manifold are spots to try just out of the bay. Whenever the weather drops out we should get a few doggies and greys come into the bay. Cobia are like pests at most of the patches outside the bay and they will be for the next month or so.

Have a great Christmas and all the best for the New Year.

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