Time for a change
  |  First Published: May 2017

Last month was a little hit and miss up here in Lucinda. There were great days and then there were the long slogs where everything looks perfect but the fish didn’t want to play the game. Hopefully this month will bring some consistency like it normally does. May signals the start of cooling water temps but can also bring clear skies and periods of good weather.

The best thing about this time of year is the availability of all species. Up the channel the barra and jacks will be feeding up before the cooler water shuts them down for a few months. The blue-water will be teeming with GTs and queenies and the mackerel will be harassing bait schools from the islands and shoals out to the reef.

Lucinda escaped any impact from Cyclone Debbie and it will be interesting to see if the Coral Sea is going to produce any more significant events before the season ends.


Finding a pattern that was consistent to catch fish proved difficult over the last few months. Talking to plenty of local fishers proved to follow the same trend in how hit and miss the barra fishing has been. Finding lots of small rat barra hasn’t been hard but the better quality fish have been very few and far between. It gets me wondering if the lack of any substantial wet seasons over the last few years is the reason behind not getting as many of those 70-90cm fish. Fishing the drains on the outgoing tides has been the better method to getting some chrome on the boat. This means you can keep moving around and hope to stumble onto a drain with plenty of bait and barra actively feeding. Shallow diving lures such as Gold Bombers or the ever-reliable soft plastics such as ZMan SwimmerZ will get eaten. Don’t go too heavy when choosing jigheads for working plastics in drains – remember barra look up when feeding.

Fishing drains is very easy as there is normally not much structure around to get snagged on, hence why this is the best way for people to start using lures and plastics. Landing your offering in the sand or mud and working it into the drain area is fine, and don’t be surprised if it gets hit in very shallow water. If you’re lucky enough it’s very possible to see barra with their backs out of the water in super shallow water hunting mullet. A well-aimed cast and you should definitely get some action.

Mangrove jack are still about but the consistent great numbers we were catching has dropped dramatically. I much prefer the back end of the year for jacks when the water is clearer and starting to warm back up after winter. I was shown some pictures from a couple of old time locals that had a great few days using fresh mullet strips way up the top of small creeks. They had landed several fish in the 45cm + range and were only fishing a channel that was 1.5 meters deep. This goes to show you don’t need deep water or wide creeks to get good fish.

Silver javelin fish (grunter) are still showing up for those fishing in the deep holes up the creeks. Using squid or fresh sardines is the best option and the afternoon and night-hours is when the better fish seem to be caught. Another quick tip for grunter is to make sure you are not using too larger hook as they have small mouths. A 3/0 is all that’s needed and allow a little slack line when they bite as they will mouth the bait as they swim off with it and trying to set the hook to early will just pull it out.

Jetty, Islands and Reef

It has been one of the best years for coral trout captures in both the recreational and commercial fisheries. The amount of boats coming back with esky loads of trout has been terrific but on the other hand most probably not doing our fish stocks any good. Fishing the deep ledges off the weather face (side of reef that faces the open ocean) of the reef systems seems to be where the best action is. Fresh fish baits or the ever reliable pilchard will get bites it’s just a matter of turning their heads away from their coral homes. Using fast action rods that load up quickly and really putting some hurt on them immediately will win you most fights. A lot of anglers still use hand lines for trout especially as it doesn’t allow the fish to get the upper hand on the strike.

Nannygai, as always, have been caught in good numbers out in the deep. It can be very frustrating finding plenty of fish on the sounder but they wont bite. If this happens it is best to keep moving and make sure you revisit this spot later in the day or night. Like all fish they have feeding times and I can almost guarantee if you find somewhere stacked with fish they will bite that evening or around a tide change. Do yourself a favour and use good fresh baits as it is the small details that can mean a boat full of fish or just a couple.

Mackerel time is now upon us. Getting out there for a few hours in the morning and trolling a few fish up is great fun and provides fish for your freezer and most probably your friend’s freezers too. Deep diving lures that are capable of staying in the water when trolled around the 8km hour mark are necessary. Mackerel are pelagic fish which means they move fast and in most cases the faster your offering is moving the more likely they are to chase it and eat it. If you are specifically chasing mackerel I would also suggest using a small amount of wire trace to eliminate losing a lot of gear. Learning to make your own wire traces is easy and will save you some dollars.

Off the beaten track

The Lucinda area also boasts some terrific sweetwater options for those that love some adventure. Simply packing a backpack with a small selection of gear and some water bottles and setting out in search of small creeks can provide some great fishing and breathtaking scenery. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea as it can be extremely hard work and a lot of care must be taken with crocs and snakes but the thrill of watching jungle perch and sooty grunter come out of nowhere to attack your lure is epic. Do a bit of research and a lot of map studying and make sure to always try to fish with someone as nearly any spot you walk will have none or very limited phone reception. Crawling out of a creek after an accident would be no fun and is a real possibility.

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