It has been a relatively slow wet season for many areas in the tropics. We have periods of hope then it doesn’t seem to get a kick along. I hope that changes because we sure need it.
We haven’t had proper wet seasons since 2011 and this has certainly had an impact on the barra cycle. They have their boom years and then they slide into the barra drought years. The more you get poor wet seasons, the more of a barra drought you will experience. We can only hope that the rain we need is yet to come.
Speaking of barra droughts, the opening of the season this year was very scratchy for most anglers. Some regions up here are experiencing minor floodwater run-off which has injected some nasty coloured swamp water to move downstream.
Many of the barra have spread out and do abnormal things when conditions like this prevail. Sometimes you will see them head down tail up just travelling in the current and other times free jump in the middle of nowhere. During these times you can never find them in traditional areas. It can make them hard to target when they do these things.
The main species that I have heard reports about has been mangrove jack. They don’t mind a change in water salinity and water quality. A lot of fish around the 45-48cm mark are around too, so average size has been good in the tropics. Sometimes the jacks will be further upstream than other times.
To narrow them down, try flicking small 4” lures and plastics tight into the mangrove roots or small gutters that appear along banks, especially if there are any overhangs or isolated snag areas. If there are no fish in the downstream areas during the run-out tide, make your way upstream and try a 20 min session here and there at any of the likely spots. Eventually you will find the right part of the creek and start getting bites.
Jacks are still a target fish for many anglers to put food on the table, but there has been a growing trend among specialist jack anglers to release all of them, which is so good to see. You hear about a few anglers that are barra freaks with barra being the iconic sportfish, but some anglers have got the jack scene covered and use techniques that have a lot to do with cast angles, and lures and plastics that are very different to some of the stuff many of us were brought up with.
Locals have been getting into big schools of grunter and the odd threadfin chewing on all the jelly prawns at the beachfront in Cardwell. Just keep an eye out for the local crocs. They’re mostly not interested in humans and always come to the rockbeds off the marina and grab a turtle. Crocs eat heaps of them and its makes you wonder how long the pressure of them hitting the local turtles will impact on numbers.
Apart from keeping a keen eye on the water, the Cardwell beachfront has been a popular spot for anglers for many years and some good fish are caught there as well. Sometimes juvenile threadies will get among the prawns and they become victims of the castnets as they are not a hardy species and they mesh easy. If you start catching threadies and the prawning is no good, give it away and conserve some of the threadfin stocks. It’s mainly visiting anglers that aren’t aware of what this species is and they use them for livies as well without realising that they have minimum legal size, which means you cant use them for bait.
My predictions for March remain inconclusive. There are so many variables that can occur during this period of the year. The closest forecast would be pretty much the same for February but possibly an improvement on the barra fishing front.
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