Keep that pulse up with exciting summer species
  |  First Published: December 2016

It’s an awesome time of year to be a North Queensland fisher. It doesn’t seem to matter where you go or what you want to chase – there’s always something biting, if you don’t mind the heat too much. With the anticipation of a good wet, the mood has lifted amongst fishos. The freshwater reaches of the Ross are legally fishable during the closed season with the purchase of a SIPS permit, so it’ll be interesting to see how many people give it a go.

The super moon that was all the talk produced some serious fish off the surface for the freshwater specialists. Another lucky angler got a 1.1m monster on fly. It’s actually the second fly-caught 1.1m fish recently and that’s a pretty cool achievement on the long wand.

It doesn’t really matter if it’s the weir waters of the Ross, an impoundment or a small creek or stream, there’s something different about the fresh stuff that relaxes you a bit and brings you back down to earth. It’s probably because there’s so much other stuff to look at while you fish.

The creeks are starving of water, but the fish still need to eat, so I decided to take the young fella to see if he could get his first jungle perch before the rains hopefully come along and dirty the waters. I wondered what was going through his mind while he considered every lure and sat on the bank staring at water. One by one, he went through half the box until he picked something he thought would do the job and then tied it on.

Small barra were a pest, and after about the third one, the chrome flashes up in the shadows showed a bit more promise. There were a few tense moments as I slid the JP up the bank, and there was another one off his bucket list. Not only that, but it was a nice one at 40cm. A few casts later, a 36cm fish was gently unhooked and released, almost reverently by Tannhym.

Still on a high and buzzing from his achievement, he slowly slid down the bank and shot a flat cast up under some trees about 15m away. While he was jabbering away about how awesome JP fishing was, he got slammed by something obviously more serious. I was holding my breath and whispering to myself, “It couldn’t be a jack, could it?” Then that red flash gave it away.

Another first, and often held in higher regard than JPs, freshwater jacks are another prestigious fish to mark off that list of desired species. For a jack, 46cm isn’t bad. On the JP tackle, it was a well-earned fish. He also caught a few snakehead gudgeon – more firsts. All was good. On the drive home, I couldn’t believe how relaxed we both felt. I started to remember why I love that stuff so much.

Over to salt, I just need to highlight the very real risks of ciguatera poisoning at the moment, as there have been several serious cases in recent weeks. The two main culprits have been big trout and big Spanish mackerel. I was talking to one of the victims who was informed that there had actually been three deaths caused by ciguatera poisoning this year and over 30 ICU admittances.

She was saying he had felt a slight paralysis feeling in her legs to start with and over a couple of days it got more severe. Then she stated to have stomach cramps. By the time she made it to hospital, her pulse was down to 36bpm, and she was lucky to have survived this one. We don’t really get out wide to the big fish grounds much, so it’s not really a concern to us, but if your a regular reefy, it could be worth keeping in mind.

Talking to the guys who spend a lot of time way out in the deep stuff, there seems to be an emerging dogtooth tuna fishery out there, and lots of jigs and trolled lures are getting confiscated by these brutal things. They have sort of been a bit of a boredom breaker for marlin fishos out wider, but I get the impression they’re becoming more excited by the doggies than the billfish. I haven’t been out there and my back’s begging me not to, but I think I’ll have to take someone up on their offer and give it a go.

The bottom fishing has really hit its stride now, and large-mouthed nannies and red emperor in the ‘holy crap’ size range are pretty common, if you can get past the bities. The further you go out, the less sharks. This has been the incentive for boats to do more overnighters.

Night has been time to use the cuttlies. Don’t be afraid to use a bait that seems a bit on the big side. Rigging two 10/0 Gamakatsu Suicides about 150mm apart, one on the back of the hood and another pinning the hood and head together improves the hook-up ratio. They’re an extremely sharp and strong hook so you can really give it to them on 80lb braid and 100lb leader.

Soft plastics are still accounting for plenty of fish, but it may be worth holding out on them and sticking to baits, if the sharks and macs are thick. Until recently, the baitfish were thick everywhere. They seem to have thinned out a bit. You can be pretty certain if you see bait on the surface or on the sounder that there will be fish on the chew with them.

Golden snapper are really putting on a show now, and they have become the focus of some of the shallow water specialists that fish from kayaks and small boats. While no monsters at up to 70cm, and regularly around 60cm, they’re great sport and can be released unharmed in under 10m of water. There’s nothing wrong with keeping one or two – they’re top table fair. Just remember, these things are slow growing and an important species.

Finally, the Akwa Pro Tackle store has moved to new premises at 10/232 in the Woolcock Street Complex in Currajong. The move has proven to be a great success and the parking has made all the difference. Boaties can pull up now and get supplies with heaps of parking. Akwa’s been busy stocking up for the Chrissy period, so there’s heaps of specials and a huge range to choose from.

Anyway, I hope you had a great festive season and the big red fella treated you kindly.

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