Downpours, Prawns and Barra
  |  First Published: April 2008

After our historic 650mm downpour of rain in around 5 hours on February 15 the town and the fishing in Mackay have been hard hit and swiftly changed for the next few months.

The creeks have had a great flush out which is good for the systems. Down in the salt the influx of fresh water has had a changing effect on the crustacean population. Firstly the crabs have been washed way out to the front of the systems and are more likely to be found on the mud flats rather than in the creeks.

Secondly, there has been a bounty of prawns around in the creeks. Lately many of these prawns have been small, but there is plenty for bait and even a feed if you are lucky. With an abundance of prawns this time of the year, barra and salmon are not far behind.

Prawns are best caught with a cast net. Look for them along the open banks of the estuaries, particularly any small gutters running off the banks. Prawns will tend to hang in these little drains and gutters until they are almost trapped and then they go for the main channel.

Prawns can also be found in any small side gully or gutter further up the creek. If there is an overhanging mangrove at the mouth, a few prawns are almost guaranteed. Best results come from casting in under the overhang, which can sometimes be a bit tricky. Along muddy banks, around small islands and any separate channel are all good spots to get a few prawns.

Once you catch some prawns, it’s time to go barra fishing. Most prawning is done on the run out and at low tide, so you will likely be fishing the tide up.

Look for the forks in the creeks and work them by floating your prawn rig onto the junction with the tide. The rig can be a lightly weighted or unweighted prawn or you can use a float with a small sinker to get the bait down a bit.

Other hot spots to work on the run up tide are rock bars, fallen mangroves, single mangroves on a mud bank and any hole that has been cut off from the main creek. The trick with these is to get there just as the tide is starting to run into them and get your prawn alive and kicking to drift in with the tide.

Don’t be put off with dirty water, as the fish still have to feed and a kicking prawn or two can be heard some distance away by a hungry fish. They will take a live prawn without hesitation.

Anthony and Brendon Agius recently tried their luck in Constant Creek and they had a cracker. The creek was very dirty, but there was enough prawns for live bait, even though they were small. After fishing near the mouth they ended up with 5 keeper barra between them. They also released a few others at long range when they jumped and threw the hook and missed quite a few strikes. The best part of their session was the quality of the barra – all lovely silver salties in good condition around 7–8kg.

Barra should be on the chew for a few weeks yet, particularly with the plentiful supply of prawns around, so anglers can look forward to some good action. Salmon will also not be far away either, and can be found in the same areas as barra.

In freshwater the barra are going nuts, in Teemburra Dam in particular. Kinchant has gone a bit quiet, and I have had no reports on Eungella. Up in Teemburra it’s almost impossible not to catch a barra!

As reported last issue the fish are up on the drowned pasture grass and lantana on the creek flats. Good size barra are being caught a short cast away from the ramp and can be found right through the lake.

Many of the barra are small and many of them are undersize. This is a great sign for next summer, which should be a beauty. The top end of Teemburra Creek is alive with little tackers up to about 550mm long and they are hitting even quite large lures like Bombers.

On the offshore scene, because of all the fresh water around, it is advisable to get well offshore to score well. Unfortunately the weather has been poor with strong southeast winds restricting all but the biggest trailer boats to the marina. When able to get out, though anglers are finding plenty of good fish.

Shawn Pitt and several of his mates had an overnighter recently near Scawfell Island and loaded up with quality red emperor, sweetlip and trout. When the current influx of freshwater has settled down, I expect the close inshore fishing to really fire up.

All anglers should be careful about the amount of debris that is floating around not only in the salt but also in the dams. Remember also in the creeks and estuaries, the channels have all been altered, so it is advisable to proceed slowly and carefully to avoid a busted prop or worse.

As always the only way you will get among our great fishing is to get out onto the water. See you there.

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