Heat abates, barra attack
  |  First Published: March 2008

Soon the tropical heat of summer should start abating, not really anywhere near the coolness of winter but the humidity of our summer should well and truly drop off.

Barra reports in Townsville have been coming thick and fast from local guides with catches of trophy fish over the magic metre mark being caught almost daily on the better tides. Fish over the 1.3m mark have once again put Townsville’s underrated fishery on the to-do list for many visiting anglers. Good quality barramundi in the 60-80cm mark have kept punters more than busy with many of their numbers being equal to cricket scores for some of our batsman.

So how does the average angler get amongst the thick of the action? For a start think about the size of barra you want to catch and, accordingly, the size your bait. For example, if you are chasing a fish to eat try using baits that allow you to target that sized fish. On average, for a 70cm fish use baits up to about six inches down to about four inches. But for a trophy barra at this time of year, try using 10-12 inch long mullet or whiting. But remember that elephants eat peanuts too!

It is all about discrimination. Big live prawn at this time of the year will attract the attention of almost every species of fish in the creek from bream, cod, trevally and even flathead. Sometimes you will have to feed all of these fish before you can get to your target species, so why not discriminate against these unwanted fish by using baits that most if not all of these fish will leave alone for the barra to find.

Fish your live fish baits on running sinker rigs either bridle rigged or just hooked through the lips or nose. This allows your bait to live longer and for it to look more natural with its nose into the current.

So where have the best fish been coming from? To the south of Townsville, the Haughton River has been firing. This predominantly shallow creek has been closed to gill netting for almost ten years and although there are many creeks in the area that are much deeper than this river, the Haughton has a good covering of structure not only on the banks but it is also littered with snags, rocks and sandbars all of which are favourite hangouts of big barra.

Closer to Townsville Crocodile Creek has been producing good catches on the right tides. Just be aware of the weather if you are going to run across the bay as a nasty afternoon sea breeze can make for an interesting trip home. Crocodile creek is one of my favourite lure fishing creeks in our immediate area as it again has plenty of structure, some great gutter country and open flats outside the mouth.

To the north Crystal and Cattle creeks are shining beacons for barra fishers as they both offer lure fishing that is very hard to match on the east coast of Queensland. Crystal Creek has a very shallow mouth that is only navigable on high tide for even small tinnies and a single lane wooden log ramp that also needs a little water to use. Although this small creek is the starting point for plenty of anglers heading to Cattle Creek they seldom seem to fish here and prefer the challenge of heading up the coast. That’s their loss and hot sessions on jacks and barra are quite common if the schools of queen fish and tarpon are not in plague proportions.

However if you are prepared to go a couple of miles up the coast the rewards can be worth the trip. Cattle and Eleanor creeks are very long systems and are quite easy to navigate once inside the shallow mouths. The trip up the coast in open water deters most anglers, so these systems do not get the pressure that the easily accessible creeks and rivers can experience. Fish this area the same as any other creek in our area: find the structure, current and bait in one area and then use your sounder to spot the fish and target fish you want to catch instead of catching everything else before getting what want.

Offshore has been a little hit and miss for most boats as very few reef systems have been consistently firing. Those prepared to travel well out to the most distant reefs have found great fishing of almost untouched variety. Trout, lippers, reds, trevally and tuna have all been turning up in large numbers and sizes but be aware the distances travelled can be expensive when the fuel bill comes in.

However, it is only money and when you get to have a super hot session on good quality reef fish the costs are rarely remembered – the photos speak for themselves.

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