Time for the prawn march to start
  |  First Published: March 2007

In March large numbers of banana prawns will move into the shallow water and become available to the average angler with a cast net.

All you need is a cast net, esky (ice optional) and a boat. Prawns will show up in different areas in March but the best areas to try are the mouths of the local creeks and rivers. The sand flats near mouth of the Brisbane River and across into Bramble Bay are also good areas to target.

Sand and mud crabs will still be around in good numbers near the mouth of the river, Boggy and Bulimba Creeks and towards the Gateway Bridge. Big tides and fresh bait are the keys to consistently catching good feeds of crabs.

Bream are being caught around the newly reclaimed section at the mouth and in all the usual spots like Pinkenba’s Sunken Wall, rock wall and most of the rocky reefy areas.

Whiting are being caught around the river mouth and any of the sandy banks from the Gateway Bridge to the Boat Passage. Live worms and yabbies are the best baits for whiting.

Snapper catches have been patchy lately. You can bag out easily one day and then the next day the fish have disappeared. Areas like the Hamilton stretch, the shipping terminals at the mouth and the new marina under the Gateway Bridge seem to have the best numbers of legal fish. There are plenty of under-size snapper around the mouth but larger fish have been cagey.

Mackerel and the tuna species have been around the bay in good numbers this season thanks to the large bait schools. Small slugs, soft plastics (rigged with 10cm of wire to stop bite offs), live baits or dead baits like pilchards have been working well.

I’ve received lots of emails asking about land-based fishing options around the Brisbane River. Over the next few months I will outline some good land-based areas that hold plenty of fish.

This month I will concentrate around the Boat Passage. This is the section of the river between White Island and Fishermans Island, just off the main arm of the river towards the mouth. This area holds all the usual estuary species like bream, flathead, cod, luderick, Moses perch and whiting but there might be the odd mangrove jack if you’re lucky (and you can stop it).

The Boat Passage can be fished on every tide and at any time – if the sand flies and mozzies don’t drive you crazy. The most commonly targeted species in this area are bream, flathead and whiting.

Bream like structure and this area is covered in prime bream holding areas. Tidal flow and rocks are the keys to catching bream here so lots of re-rigging and removing snags is normal when fishing the Passage.

Most anglers cast their baits away from the rocks into the current only to have them settle under a rock and get snagged. The best way to fish the rocks is to sit as close to the water as possible and use a long bream/whiting style rod (11-13ft) that provides maximum control of your bait. When using these rods I can fish baits at different distances from the rocks by simply adjusting the angle of the rod to the rocks.

I use prawns when fishing for bream and my rig is very simple. Start by peeling a few prawns and creating a small berley in the shallows. Don’t use too much berley as each bait starts the process again. I usually don’t cast my line but just place the bait on the water and slowly backwind the bait at the speed of the current until it settles on the bottom. If I don’t have a bite within 60 seconds I will slowly lift the rod and let the bait rejoin the current flow and before lowering my bait to another position. You can repeat this process at different depths by changing the sinker size and the angle of the rod until a pattern emerges. By using small size 4 hooks and covering the entire hook with bait, snags are not as much of a problem.

When fishing two baits for bream, allow the fish to pick at the prawns until they move off with the bait before striking. This is when the long, soft tapers of bream/whiting style rods really come into their own. The bream can eat the baits without feeling any resistance on the line to put them off.

Whiting and flathead can be caught on the sand and mud flats on either side of the bridge. I like to wade these shallow flats casting worms, yabbies and fresh stripbaits in search of feed. Theses shallows can come alive at times, especially in the cooler months with schools of tailor smashing bait in the shallows.

Estuary cod and jacks live around the bridge’s pylons and along the rocks. Live baits like small poddy mullet and herring fished around the bottom of the pylons will also produce fish. This area has an incredible amount of tidal flow, so successfully fishing live baits is best done when the tide stops flowing. The Passage has unusual tidal flows which affect the still periods in this area and some days the flow really does not stop enough to fish livies.

passage tips

• Good tides are highs in the early morning and early evening;

• Crabs can be caught on the sandy areas on both sides of the bridge;

• Keep your baits fresh;

• Long rods and light bait presentations are the keys;

• Keep your baits as close to the structure as possible;

• Take mozzie spray; and

• Take your rubbish home with you or leave it in the bins provided.

Next month I will concentrate on fishing around the mouth of Breakfast Creek. Lots of anglers fish this area and excellent catches of lots of species come from this little section of the river.

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