Contrast has been a standout technique
  |  First Published: May 2017

While we really needed the rain that Debbie dumped recently, I’m glad we didn’t cop that one. Debbie blew over half of Queensland for days on end. Contrary to all predictions leading up to the event, Townsville missed every drop of water she was expected to deliver.

The rivers and dam water supply desperately needed it, but we escaped that by the skin of our teeth. The devastation it caused wasn’t missed, and maybe next time could order a half sized cyclone, if that’s ok. Our thoughts are with those who suffered the wrath of Debbie and we hope for a quick recovery.

Bay and shoal species are still going quite well. Apart from an outbreak of skin fluke in the grunter over the last week or two, things have been going well. The lure fishing for the grunter has been exceptional.

While we often catch plenty of sub-50cm fish on the softies, the size has been much better. An average of around 55cm has been the norm at the moment, and on light gear, that’s a great fun way to catch a feed. As a bit of a precaution I’d give eating the afflicted specimens a miss though. Eating them is not recommended.

A bit of contrast

The lures that have been working on them more recently are larger than what we generally use for grunter. The 5” Halco Paddle Prawn and Atomic Prongs have been good. The best colours have been the old fall-back pattern of standout colours early in the morning boasting a little contrast in the form of powder-coated pink jigheads. You can also dip the tail of the Prongs in the Quick Coat.

Once the sun gets up a bit and the water’s a bit clean the contrast isn’t as important. There is definitely a pattern in the contrasting colours being more effective during low light periods or at times when the water’s a bit murky. Obviously, before we used it we caught lots of fish on basic colours without the contrast, but I am convinced our catch rate has increased since using it. Not only that, our consistency on certain species has also expanded, such as with the grunter.

While some people will no doubt dismiss these sorts of customising options as pointless or trivial, the fact is that everyone I know who has tried it is a convert. When I first started stuffing around with these sorts of things I was very sceptical about any noticeable differences, but that has all changed now. Golden snapper, or ‘choppers,’ are another species who like a little contrast at times.

It doesn’t stop there either. When talking spinnerbaits, Bassman broke new ground in developing contrasting skirt colours and soft plastic trailers with great effects on inland species such as bass, Murray cod, saratoga, sooty grunter and golden perch. Across the board, contrast has been used in the lure industry for a very good reason. It just works.

Around the Townsville area we often have a lot of stirred water, due to the mud flats and wind that stirs them up. It goes without saying that a lure that can be seen when conditions are less than perfect is more likely to get intercepted.

Offshore, big nannies and trout have been the main species that have graced the decks. Plenty of mackerel and tuna have been caught trolling at high speed.

Sailfish and marlin are surprisingly common at the moment too. There have been plenty of sightings east of Townsville and a few have been tempted trolling gar and mullet. We get a fair idea of what the billies are doing when the 10/0 SL12 Gamakatsu hooks sell out pretty quickly all of a sudden.

Small wolfies have been working a treat on the Spanish over the last couple of weeks, and with the average size of the Spanish being around the 8-10kg mark, the smaller wolfies are just a nice size to tempt them.

Inshore and rivers

Barra have been pretty hard to pinpoint at times even for the fanatics. Apart from trolling the local rivers, anglers heading a bit further north and south of town have been doing the best. Locally speaking, most of the reasonable fish are being taken either at night, or down deep through the day time using plastics and vibes.

Trolling has been accounting for most of the fish in the rivers. With some fresh still running out, the deeper sections of rivers have been the best, from what I’ve heard. I’d think that as the rest escapes a little more, the bait should be back up on top, and so should the barra and jacks.

One tactic that is a proven technique for chasing the jacks in particular is to find the sweet spot, the spot where the run-out tide hits the run-in tide, and then chase it as it goes upstream. The last two times we have been out, this has been the secret to finding active fish.

Since Debbie has nicked off, the wind has still been hanging around. This will be short lived and things should settle down a bit in the next couple of weeks as the offshore water temperatures drop and things become more stable.

On my high horse, Giddy up!

Over the last month we have had many boats roar up to us and if we don’t get out of there, they just drop off the plane and ping our location. It’s getting bad now. This isn’t a once every now and then thing anymore – it’s happening almost every weekend now.

Here’s just one example of how brazen the spot thieves are; we had a couple of blokes the other day in a big flashy bass boat scream up to us at 100km/h, circle us a couple of times then just drop the electric. They were that close you could have just about poked one in the eye with a rod tip! It was disgustingly blatant. It was bloody hard, but we grit our teeth, lifted the electric and left them to it.

You would think that that was bad enough, but no. What made it even worse was that the skipper rang up another guy and bragged about doing it, and then gave him the co-ordinates! I found out that he does it all the time to people, just because he can rush up on them before they get a chance to move off their mark in his big flash boat.

The person in question will undoubtedly know who he is, if he has the intelligence to read a mag, but I’d just about bet both my batteries that he knows exactly how despised he is by other anglers. Maybe he’s too embarrassed to make a big deal about it.

Even my young fella at nine years old couldn’t believe it. My mate Ryan just looked at me and threw his hands in the air in disbelief. It goes to show that the biggest, fastest boat with the latest TV-sized screens and electronics won’t turn you into a good fisher.

I suppose it’s my advantage of working in a tackle shop that I hear of all the incidences that happen. It’s amazing how many times a particular boat is described time after time committing the same offence.

Pinging people because you can’t find fish for yourself should be downright embarrassing. I’m sorry if I sound irate, it’s because I am, and so are countless others with this unbelievably blatant disregard for people’s personal space. If you’re lonely, get a dog. Take up bingo or something. I can tell you right now you’ll make no friends ‘dropping in’ on people.

I have actually started a photo library of boats and people who ‘drop in’ and might even start to return the favour, I think. It’s just so common now that people who resort to these sorts of inconsiderate acts need to understand just how despicable it really is.

We go fishing to get away from the crowds and put in heaps of effort and fuel costs to find these out-of-the-way marks that remove us from the more frequented areas. We don’t own the waterways, but for crying out loud, we try our hardest to remove ourselves from the more well-known spots. I have never seen the problem more prevalent than in the local waters around here. It’s got to be said.

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