It has always amazed me how quickly you can get warmed up in winter when that rod loads up as a fast powerful fish rips off some line. It’s winter time in Lucinda and the bluewater is where the fun is at.
The channel can become quite tough to consistently find fish, so all eyes are on the weather forecasts. Fingers crossed the best days are when you’re not stuck at work, and I can guarantee you that plenty of the locals keep a few sick days up their sleeve just in case the weather is perfect.
Up until this month, it had been a typical windy few months with some above average rainfall thrown in as well. Winter is dictated with strong southerly winds that can seem to blow relentlessly for weeks on end. This can cause a sense of cabin fever and is very annoying, as there are plenty of fish out there that need to be caught. The only positive I can say about the constant bad weather is the fact that the fish stocks haven’t been affected. Let’s see what July has to offer here in Lucinda.
Times can be very tough fishing the channel at this time of year. Chasing grunter is the best way to get a feed consistently. Fishing the mouths of creeks on the run-in tide using soft baits such as prawns or squid should see some tasty fillets on the dinner table. Grunter are great fish, as they fight well and taste amazing with pearly white flesh. They can be difficult to hook due to the fact that they have small mouths, and normally carry the bait in their mouths while moving off slowly before swallowing it. It’s very important to allow them to take some line before striking, and bait runner style reels are perfect for grunter fishing. The ability to feed line to fish with very little tension means a natural presentation. After a fish has moved off with the bait, a solid hook set should hopefully see a bent rod.
They’re not a glamour species, but the bream fishing during winter is crazy. The humble pikey bream turns into an aggressive thug and will attack big live baits set for barra. In addition, the amount of times your lure or plastic will get slammed when fishing the snags and drains by bream will shock you. I’ve called them for mangrove jack so many times and it’s a bit embarrassing when a bream comes to the surface. Those who want to have loads of fun, downsizing your gear and chasing pikey bream will help pass time between barra and jacks. Using small soft plastics such as ZMan 3” MinnowZ rigged on light jigheads and flicked around rocky areas and snags should see you having lots of fun.
The major problem when downsizing gear is the smokings you get when a solid jack or barra gets in on the action. Pikey bream fight well on light gear, but jacks will demolish you very quickly, so a lot of luck and skill is required to extract them when fishing heavy structures.
The iconic Lucinda sugar loader jetty will be on fire during July. This 6km long fish-attracting device has hundreds of pylons that attracts bait fish, which in turn brings predators.
It’s no secret that the jetty is one of the best places to catch big queenfish in NQ. On a good day, it is very easy to land double figures of metre plus queenies, and on a slow day you should still land a couple. Working plastics quickly through the water column is the easiest and most effective way to entice these fish to bite. Make sure your plastic gets to the bottom, then rip it to the boat with speed and the odd twitch. If queenies are following but not eating, wind quicker, or add a big pause, making them run into it and instinctively open their mouths.
Queenfish are amazing fun, as they rip drag and jump around like crazy. Make sure you’re ready with quick rod work work, as the fight can get very hectic when they are close to the boat.
Golden snapper should also be hanging around the bottom, so finding them on the sounder and working plastics and jigs should see you attached to these steam trains. Golden snapper fight very well, with strong runs along the bottom. They are not particularly dirty fighters, but the areas they live normally mean your line will come in close proximity to nasty structures that will mean game over very quickly should they rub the line. If you can turn them a little and get them fighting off the bottom, you are in with a great chance of landing one of the best looking and eating fish on offer. Just a reminder that golden snapper do not release well when caught in water with depths greater then around 8m. Any fish caught deeper should be taken care of correctly, eaten and enjoyed.
Sometimes the weather is just going to be a consistent pain, and if this is the case, I suggest maybe getting off the beaten track. Chasing some of north Queensland’s sweetwater natives such as jungle perch and sooty grunter is a great way to spend the day or week.
A sense of adventure and plenty of time looking at maps will show you plenty of streams that potentially could hold fishing gold. A light spin rod and a backpack with some small lures and plastics will be all you need. Both JPs and sooties love eating off surface, so small poppers will provide some epic strikes right in front of your eyes.Reads: 935