Good weather brings rewards
  |  First Published: September 2007

What a difference some good weather can make. Townsville has seen some great periods of calm between trade wind patterns that nearly blew us off the map. As a result the fishing reports have been consistently good.

The offshore reefs have been producing some top catches. Davis reef has had the best of the trout reports with recreational and charter fisherman claiming bag limit catches on most trips. Closer to town Lodestone and Keeper reefs have enjoyed a bit of resurgence with good mixed bags of reef and pelagic fish. The majority of catches coming from the deeper structure off the reef platforms. This is where a good sounder is almost mandatory for reef boats, finding structure and bait can be a bit of an art with an old black and white sounder.

Every winter some unusual catches tend to show up, this year Wayne Dippel managed to find very large wahoo and yellowfin tuna while trolling a northern reef system. Big baits trolled from a downrigger meant for Spanish mackerel were the undoing of these great fish, hopefully we may see some more as the size of the bait schools in bowling green bay seem to be a good sign for a bumper season. Sailfish schools are starting to turn up bowling green but as yet I haven’t heard of any black marlin being tagged.

Spanish mackerel are still making up the most of inshore catches and 20k fish have not been rare. The Mack patches and shark shoal have as always produced, while salamander reef and its surrounding rocks back towards cape Cleveland have definitely fished better this year than those offshore hotspots. Keep in mind as it gets closer to the spawning run these speedsters will be getting closer to Rib reef. I wouldn’t be surprised if later this month the fishing around Albino, Paluma, Haymen and Chilcott rocks really starts to fire as mackerel school off Palm Island on the spawning migration.

The reports of good catches of inshore reds have been quiet, but the shallower rubble pads, wrecks and rocks have produced possibly the best grunter fishing for a decade. Halifax bay from west point out is the most popular, although cape Cleveland has also been producing good fish. Grunter to 70cm have been caught regularly but the average size would be around 60cm. If land based or beach fishing you can expect this average to be down a little more but it would appear that the numbers of fish more than make up for the size.

Beaches to the north and south of town are holding big schools of grunter, mainly due to the abundance of bait such as pink nippers and yabbies. Catches of good grunter are still being taken along the strand for those willing to brave the night tides and cooler temps. As always live bait is the best, fresh bait or good quality frozen baits will still give you a fair shot at a reasonable feed and some great fun.

The benefits of fishing beaches out of Townsville becomes evident when you’re targeting flathead or whiting as both species are in plague proportions on undisturbed gutters and yabby beds. I’m sure most readers would remember pumping yabbies as a kid, now you’ve got a good excuse to take your kids to the beach for some fun.

The estuaries around Townsville have been fishing reasonably well with winter barra catches still ticking over, although as the water warms we can expect catch rates to rise. Hopefully, the good run of salmon that we have experienced this winter continues right through spring. The pick of the estuaries has been the Haughton River as the shallower water is easily warmed on clear days and stirs the fish into feeding. It’s no surprise to see most of Townsville’s fishing guides all fishing this system lately and by all reports putting clients onto some excellent fish.

Please take note that the regulatory impact statement for the inshore finfish plan will be released on September 1 and fisheries have informed me that they will only accept comments for 28 days after its release before returning to the minister for changing of the legislation. So if there is something in there that you do not agree with, then now is the time to have your say.

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