Fish revel in Fitzroy Fresh
  |  First Published: April 2007

Where has summer gone or did it come at all? In coastal Capricornia we have had incredibly mild temperatures for this time of year. The usual rain has only come occasionally, keeping the grass green but not filling the creeks or dams.

However the Fitzroy River, with one of Australia’s biggest catchments, was flushed out by all the rain that came down from the very wet Mackay area and the results are starting to show. Barramundi, grunter, fingermark, bream and salmon are revelling in the refreshed conditions and some of the mud crabs caught lately have been very high quality. In previous years mud crabs were quite scarce in April and this year the only notable difference was the amount of fresh in the system.

The Fitzroy River, Coorooman, Pumpkin, Ross and Waterpark creeks as well as Corio, Shoalwater and Stanage bays are all worth trying. The mouths of the creeks and little tributaries have worked the best and the coming weeks should be no different. The prawns have been growing at decent rate, and some of the biggest river prawns seen in ages have come home consistently after working the mud banks and small drains along the river edge.

As we head into autumn many of our favourite estuary species will slow considerably and become harder to find.

Grunter have once again been taken in the Causeway Lake, Coorooman Creek and Waterpark Creek. Though they haven’t reached bragging quality, a grunter of 1.5-3kg is a top table fish. Around here they are a popular target species for both inside and outside fishers.

Barramundi are becoming a more viable option in cool months particularly in the impoundments. Callide, Awoonga and Monduran plus all the dams in the Mackay region are within a few hours’ travel. Last year, even in the heart of June’s cold grip, barras were caught on a regular basis.

Tactics must change though and shallow water takes the place of the deeper areas. Modified shallow divers worked from shore out to the boat in the warmer parts of the dam (usually the side the wind is blowing towards) can increase your odds of capturing a trophy-sized fish.

This is the time of year for bream fans to hunt those huge snodgers that reach to over 2kg with almost monotonous regularity. From Port Alma and into The Narrows any of the serious snags, structures and rock walls will hold healthy populations of big bream most of the time. Yabbies, pilchards, mullet flesh strips and of course local river prawns are the preferred baits for bream chasers.

Plastics have had a great impact on angling styles and bream fishers seem to be leading the charge after watching the ABT Bream Series on TV. A few of the sportfish boys have them wired and even live and fresh baits pale compared to lures once the school is switched on. The shrimp imitations in light brown pumpkin seed colour are my favourite at the moment, particularly during first and last light.

I have found that berley still has a place with lure fishing as it excites the fish and gets their juices flowing. Bran, pollard or millrun soaked in tuna oil or the excess blood and oils from a block of pilchards, released in small quantities gets all the species in the area fired up for a feed.

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