Loving the Net Free Zone
  |  First Published: April 2017

This is a great time of year to target every species you could possibly think of finding in Central Queensland. Everything is pretty active. A lot of the freshwater feeder creeks are dried up or running low due to the severe lack of rain in the region over summer.

With the heat brings high water temperatures, making predatory fish very active. The longer the water temperature stays a little higher, the easier it will be to fish.

Fitzroy and the Narrows

The river has been fishing well with plenty of 70cm barra being pulled in. There have been many people smashing their first metre-mark barra, and a few reports of 130cm fish.

A recent report, marking one year since the net free zones have been in place, has shown that the catch rate for barramundi has improved well over 100%, with the average size of the fish sky rocketing also. These results are a huge win for the region.

A lot of the barra have been pulled within the city reaches all the way down to Devils Elbow, but the bigger ones have been more common down at the Port, Narrows and Thompson Point areas. As usual for this time of year, many barra are being captured moving up into the areas they can’t normally get to on low tide. Some land-based anglers have been choosing to run live perch for their barra, which is a very effective bait. It is not uncommon to pick up threadies and sharks this way too.

Unfortunately, it is slim pickings for perch at the moment as the majority of areas they normally reside in have dried up due to the lack of rain. This means there has been no recruitment in the area and there are no fish to be found.

The barra and threadfin are in high numbers, but note that as the months get colder fish will move a little deeper so you might have hunt for them a little more.

Anglers are having success landing barra with lures while trolling in 6-8ft of water using natural colours like herring and mullet. Diving sizes that have been working well are anything in the 2-5ft range. Generally, lures work well placed 20-30m behind the boat and trolled at around 4knots. If casting lures is more your style, some great fish have been pulled using hard body vibes cast into structure along the banks.

Rivers and Creeks

Local creeks leading into the river are still trickling with fresh water runoff. If you can find where this water meets the tidal saltwater you are in for some brilliant fishing.

The most predominant fish you’ll find in the rivers are barramundi. Flicking around 5-7cm hardbody lures or live baiting are the more productive ways of fishing these areas. Along with barra, many other saltwater species such as bream and flathead will be sitting up the back of the saltwater creeks readily available to target.


The lack of rain has made fishing freshwater areas a little more difficult but people are still having success, you just need to work a little harder to find good grounds. Common areas such as the bridges in the Woolwash Lagoon have been heavily fished and are not holding as many fish as normal, but this will change if we get a decent dose of rain. Taking a walk along the bank and having a crack at the lilies and fallen trees is finding success, especially with small plastics and hardbodies. In this case we found the SX-40, Pointer 48 and 3” GrubZ were bringing in the goods as they closely matched the smaller bait hanging in these areas.


Crabbing has had mixed reports lately. Some people are getting heaps and others getting a few but not many have come into the shop with poor results. The common bait at the moment is still mullet heads in a pack but if you can get a hold of reef frames, these work very, very well.

Keep the
We all love to post our fishing pictures to social media but did you know you can help keep the nets out once and for all. Every picture you post online from the region make sure you add the tag ‘#lovingmyNFZ’. This helps everyone keep track of the positive impact the net free zones are having, and hopefully we’ll see more put in place along the coast. The NFZs are not just for barra, they keep all commercial nets out of the specified areas. This means that they aren’t taking mullet, mackerel and a whole swag of other species that are normally netted, leaving more fish for recreational anglers.
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