After almost ten years the wet season has finally arrived arrived. Early February saw the barra season open with torrential downpours. Most fishers were not too concerned about the massive run-off and worked around the floodwaters. Locations like the highway, the weirs at Giru, the middle of Townsville and near the Australian Institute of Marine Science all received heavy pressure. All of these places fired for lure, fly and bait fishers.
If the Ross River weirs still have fresh water spilling over them they will be the best spot for barra this month. The known freshwater sections including Gleesons and Blacks will fish well either side of the weirs so expect to see smaller barra in the fast moving whitewater on the downstream side. Trophy fish should be holding in the deeper holes in front of the weir.
Aplins Weir is popular spot as it is the divider between the fresh and saltwater. Big barra can be found pushing up the creek and this manmade structure gives anglers great access to big fish. As the water levels drop, fish the larger run-in tides as barra tend to move in with the tide and feed as the brackish water reaches the weir.
Offshore the rain has also been well received with many popular baitfish feeding off nutrients flushed out of the creeks. Hopefully we will get more of the great weather we had in late January so the reef and blue water anglers can return out wide. The fishing out of Townsville has been sensational and should continue right through until the trade wind season starts. The usual areas to try include Keeper, Brewer and Lodestone reefs, reports of good trout and redthroat have kept most crews happy while the schools of mid-sized Spaniards have been adding to the mixed bags.
Closer to shore the catch rates on the shoals have dropped in numbers but the larger trophy fish are still being caught regularly enough to keep die hard fisher happy. Small schools of Spanish mackerel and longtail tuna have been covering the shoals areas so keep an eye out for working birds. Large numbers of trevally and Chinaman may be an unwanted catch for most but beginners love to have their arms pulled off by these bulldozers.
The islands around Townsville are also fishing well, if you can get to them. When the weather gods give us a break a trip over to the Palm Island group can be worthwhile. The southern end has Chilcott, Paluma and Albino rocks. These rocks hold good-sized bait schools and pelagics tend to cover this area consistently.
North East Bay is home to some shallow reef flats and seems to hold good numbers of trout. Throwing poppers over these flats is a very proactive and exciting way to fish a new area.
If you have never ventured over to Palm it’s well worth the trip, even just for the scenery. Be aware that the shallow coral flats love propellers. It’s also worth having a look at the green zone maps before and during the trip.
If the inshore water has cleaned up and returned to full salt, fingermark will still be worth a shot until the colder water temperatures arrive with the winter currents. As always find the bait and the fish will not be too far away. Big fingermark love to feed around the dark moon on live baits, especially live squid. If you do snare a trophy fish, release the larger breeding females to protect future stocks. Good quality cameras have done away with the need to kill the fish and bring it home for bragging rights.
Everyone should be aware that Townsville’s largest fishing competition is The Fishing Warehouse Predators tournament. It will be held on the Labour Day long weekend in May and I will keep everyone updated as more information becomes available.Reads: 1202