Fishing in the New Year
  |  First Published: December 2016

As another year passes, I like to set myself some goals for the New Year. Last year I wanted a 60cm mangrove jack from my local waters, which is a tough challenge in NQ. I didn’t achieve this, but got a couple around the 58cm mark – close, but can’t tick that box yet. 2017 for me will be learning a lot more about impoundment barra

One of the biggest factors for epic fishing also takes place in the New Year – the wet season. Fingers are crossed all over the country for rain, and NQ needs it bad. Fishing Lucinda in January is normally a safe time to make the trip, and as in most cases, the heavy rains have not begun yet. It also can fish very well, with hot, humid days and the odd thunderstorm getting the fish active. Happy New Year to all the readers, and lets get stuck into some great 2017 fishing!


Barra are still off limits until next month, and hopefully there has been a lot of early rain to help in their spawning. The usual targets of mangrove jack, grunter and fingermark are the fish to chase, and they all should be biting their heads off. The bonus of threadfin salmon adds all the more reason to get out and spend some time on the water. In early December I stumbled upon a big school of threadfin up a tiny creek and they stayed in this spot for two days, and I kept visiting – this was so much fun, and I hope this means they’re on their way into the channel for a feed.

Threadfin will take live baits, and occasionally dead baits, but chasing them with lures, plastics and blades is your best bet. They are not a species I have caught much of, but everyone regards them as one of the pickiest eaters. So trying to match what they’re feeding on can be the secret to success. A good quality sounder will also make finding fish and good fishing locations easier.

The jacks, as usual, have been biting their heads off. The fresh water can make them difficult to locate, so if there has been a bit of rain, it’s best to shoot on up into the Benjamin Flats area – this will provide clean water that still has plenty of hungry fish. Benjamin Flats is a huge area, and it’s easy to get lost there have been plenty of stories of visiting anglers getting lost as they try find there way at night. Your best bet is to make sure it is marked in your GPS unit. There is a boat ramp at Fishers Creek that allows easier access into Benjamin Flats – you’ll want about 1.7m to get back onto the ramp without to much hassle.

Jetty, Islands and Reef

The weather can be pretty good in January. Allowing for early morning departures and making sure you’re back in before the summer NE sea breeze is a good idea. I haven’t been on the blue water for some time, but I have heard great reports of big red emperor and large mouth nannies being caught in the close spots in the shipping lane. There isn’t much substantial bottom structure out there, but if you look around you are sure to find some small lumps and bumps.

Trophy fish are often caught on the smallest patch of bottom, so it pays to stop and drop a few quality baits on it. The best baits are often fresh fish fillets such as hussar, but squid and cuttlefish get their fair share of emperor. Big hooks are a must, and a lot of gun red anglers use a set of two or three hook gangs – this allows a straight natural bait presentation and also more chance of sinking a hook into that prize fish.

There has been plenty of action on the jetty in the early mornings. Cobia have been hanging around causing a nuisance, and a worked 7” scented jerk shad will get eaten. Cobia are one of the most persistent and annoying fish to get boat side. They normally give you one quick net or gaff shot, then they circle the boat constantly, never giving up. The GTs have been a bit hit and miss, with some sessions providing great results and others leaving you fishless. I like to start at the very end of the jetty and use the current or wind to push me down within casting distance, while casting poppers through the other side. Nearly all fish hit the popper, as it comes out from the shade and in tight to the pylons.

It’s a crazy few minutes while you attempt to wrestle a rampaging 20kg+ GT from an encrusted pylon. Fingermark bream have also been biting well on the smaller tides – getting some live squid and sending them to the bottom should see you hooked up to these amazing fish. They fight hard so make sure you are using gear that means you can put a little hurt on hard running fish.

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