Winter at Weipa is Hot
  |  First Published: June 2007

Winter in Weipa is not the slow fishing season everyone thinks. Winter can, and does, produce some fo the best fishing you are likely to encounter anywhere in Australia. And if you’re into light tackle sport or fly fishing offshore, then you would be absolute stark raving mad not to visit Weipa in the cooler months.

The average day temperature in winter is still 31C, so it’s still pretty warm, but it’s the night temperatures that make life so wonderful in Weipa during winter. Cool nights of 18-19C make sleeping a lot easier for tired anglers and finally the air conditioners can go off and have a break for a few months. The water temperature cools a bit too and the rivers can drop up to 10C – but don’t let that deter you from fishing. This cooler water brings a new wave of fish onto the bite and it’s still action stations.

What’s been happening

We’ve been flat out like a lizard drinking the last few weeks with clients coming and going and doping their best to take home a lure or two from the hundreds they bring up.

In early May I hosted regular client Bill Little and his son Greg for a week of solid lure casting at the snags. Bill is a passionate lure caster and that’s all he ever wants to do when he visits Weipa. During his week long charter we had the chance to fish the Pine, Mission, Hey and Embley rivers and found some sensational action. The best barra day saw Bill and Greg catching just over 40 barra up to 75cm on all sorts of lures. Shallow runners, deep runners and soft plastics all worked well on the barra.

There were other highlights too.

The boys got stuck into some great threadfin salmon. These hard fighters were all caught on cast lures and they measured up to 80cm. These are prime table fare and the boys kept a couple for a feed and released the rest. However the most meritorious catch of the week was made by Bill who hooked a massive 20kg groper on a Rapala X-Rap from a deep snag. The fish had him in and out of the snags a couple of times before the fish finally swam free. The fish was landed, the lure saved from a certain death and the fish released to terrorise some more baitfish.

Along with the barra, threadfin and groper, the pair also landed some quality jacks, the first of the bigger queenfish, a few pesky catfish and some cod of various species. All in all it was a great week of lure casting the rivers that I’d expect to continue into June.

If you’re into bait fishing, the fingermark in the rivers have been going off. Live mud herring have been the best bait with fingermark up to 65cm coming aboard regularly. If barra are your live bait target, get hold of some big mullet and look for a deep hole. The barra caught on live baits have been exceptional with fish approaching 90cm being hooked and occasionally landed.

Offshore the fishing has become really consistent.

Down toward Boyd Bay the tuna have balled up the bait and it’s not a good time to be a baitfish south of Weipa. Mixed in with the tuna have been half a dozen species of trevally, mackerel and cobia. And the best part of all is if the fish are not up smashing the baitfish they’ll be underneath the bait just waiting for a hapless baitfish to drop below the school.

The tuna have been standard Weipa models, with a 4kg fish being about average. This is the perfect size for 4kg threadline tackle, but I’d recommend a bit heavier as the sharks are doing their thing on any hooked fish and one in two gets chewed up by the sharks. The mackerel have been great with fish up to 15kg turning up regularly. These mackerel have been taken by anglers jigging metal lures beneath the bait schools or by anglers fishing float baits while reef bashing. They’ve turned many keen soft plastic fishers into mad keen metal chuckers recently so the mackerel have been a good diversion.

Mixed in with mackerel have been numerous cobia to 15kg. It’s been the best cobia year for a long time with almost every trip to the south producing at least one cobia. This has coincided with numbers of manta rays arriving. Casting flies and lures at the manta rays has been very rewarding for anglers looking to target cobia but it’s been the use of lightly weighted soft plastic that has really turned some heads this year. Like a fly, soft plastic fishers have been using light weights to make the plastic drift down slower than a lead slug. This slower drop through the water really appeals to the cobia and they’ve been greedily chewing back all sorts of plastics. The best so far have been the 7” Berkly Gulp jerkshads matched to 1/4oz TT Lures jigheads.

June Expectations

This month I’d expect the deeper reefs to fish well for baitfishers with fingermark, tuskfish and the occasional black jew all coming aboard. The best baits will be fresh squid and tuna fillets collected on site. This time of year it’s always worth putting a floater out the back for a Spaniard as you just never know.

The bait balls really tightening with the tuna and trevally really hammering the bait. It’s a special moment to see a foaming bait ball being worked over by tuna and trevally and when you can present this to anglers who are too tired to cast anymore – all the better.

Water temperatures are still pretty high at 28C in the rivers so July should still be a great month for lure casting the snags and rock bars for barra, jacks and queenies. The mouths of the creeks and rivers will also hold giant herring and tarpon, so some top water fun will really be the reward for fishing in June.

We still have occasional places for groups of 6-9 anglers later in the year, so log onto www.weipafishing.com or give me a call on (07) 4069 9064 or drop me an email on --e-mail address hidden-- to find out if we can get you iknto some of the best fishing action going.

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