Putting in time and effort brings rewards
  |  First Published: March 2017

Finally it is February and the barra season is open. Boat ramps were packed and lures and livies hit just about every snag between Turkey and the Fitzroy. Some exciting sessions were had for those that put in the time and effort.

All the artificial structures like the Boyne and Calliope bridges have been holding fish, especially at night. Big plastics seem to be the standout lures recently. The likes of Castaic, Lunker City and locally made Happy Rocks are fantastic.

Coliseum Inlet has been producing quality fish throughout February with good numbers of jacks, barra, flathead and black jew being reported. The deeper holes with rubble bottom will all hold jew at certain times and have been known to produce some big golden snapper. Live baiting these deep holes seems to produce the best fish. If all else fails there’s always plenty of whiting to be caught in the system. Try micro poppers for a bit of fun!

The Boyne River has been fishing well with solid catches of jacks and barra during February. Most of the rock bars in the Boyne will hold jacks and barra. Some of the better fish have been coming from the main bridge at night. Working the light lines with big plastics and deep diving hardbodies such as the Lethal Lures 6m diving Barra Slayer Elite. Local guide Justin Nye from Gladstone Fly and Sportfishing has been continually producing the goods by surface fishing throughout the system for everything from trevally and queenfish to barra and jacks.

Plenty of big black jew are getting around the harbour at present with some massive fish being landed throughout February. Any deep water and structure will hold these brutes of the ocean. Some of the more well-known spots are the hole behind Tide Island and the drop-off inside Gatcombe Heads. The standout bait has been local squid when it’s available and cuttlefish head. Some of the best barra of the season have been taken in the harbour. Once again big plastics and deep diving hardbodies have been the standouts when it comes to lures.

Plenty of grunter are still popping up throughout Toolooa bends and the narrows with the odd blue and threadfin in amongst them. Expect more and more blue salmon to start popping up as the weather starts to cool.

Awoonga Dam is still very hit and miss. Those that put the time and effort into the place are getting good results. The positive thing is that we are seeing a lot of different size fish being landed. From little rats to fish around the magic 120cm mark. Touch wood it won’t be too long before we start seeing the place getting back to its former glory days.

The weather has been ordinary of late with only small windows of opportunity to get outside. Those that have been lucky enough to get out have found red-throat everywhere! Most boats have been bagging out within the first hour or two and then spending the rest of the day looking for other fish such as trout and emperor. When you can get through the redthroat, the trout have all been of good size. Try using big plastics or livies to get the better trout, especially when the red-throat have been as thick as they are. Making a small detour to jig some lives from the shipping leads or bait grounds will certainly pay for itself when it comes to the quality of fish in the ice box at the end up the day. The guys that have been throwing stickbaits and poppers have been catching some real trophy fish of late with some massive GTs getting around. You don’t have to go all the way to the reef to catch these buses of the ocean. Reports of 30kg+ GTs from the shipping leads and the rocks out the back of Facing Island are not uncommon.

The crabs have finally started to move! A little more rain over the coming month should really get them going just in time for Easter. The likes of Grahams Creek, 7 Mile Creek and Turkey Beach have been producing the best quality crabs.

I recently spent a day exploring some fresh water creeks and lagoons not to far north of Gladstone. This would have to be one of my favourite styles of fishing. Loading up a mate’s 3m tinnie and launching it in places that have probably never seen a boat before is pretty exciting. It was only five minutes after we launched the tinnie into the first lagoon that we had our first strike. It was an unexpected strike as I was just running my lure back and forth beside the boat when a little barra came flying out from under the boat and nailed my Lucky Craft Tone Splash. Unfortunately the hooks didn’t set, but it certainly got the blood pumping and spirits high for whatever was to come next. We weren’t disappointed – it was on! We had hit after hit on surface but with only a few small fish landed, it was time to try something different. Big plastics didn’t seem to be working and bigger shallow running hardbodies were attracting a few follows, but nothing was having a proper go. We decided to downsize the gear and give the new Rapala Twitchin’ Mullet a go. It only took two casts for my mate to land a nice fat healthy barra measuring in at 83cm. The smaller profile on these lures and the fact they can run good hooks makes them a great option for times like this when the fish are only taking smaller baits. Another five fish all around the 70-80cm mark were landed before we decided to pack up and head home.

It was certainly a very exciting session, something I’ll definitely be doing again in near future and something I’d recommend everyone try.

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