The lure of the west?
  |  First Published: December 2007

Typical summer conditions have ensured plenty of good fishing opportunities lately and that should continue throughout the month of December, as we get closer to the rainy season.

Offshore, calm conditions have meant most anglers have taken a trip to the close reefs to stock up on some coral trout fillets and bag a few reds on the rubble patches during the night runs. If heading out for an afternoon, evening or overnighter trip beware of storms at this time of the year. Be aware of the third and final finfish closure of the year for reef fishing, which occurs from December 3-11 inclusive.

Inshore, the last month has been a beauty with plenty of quality fish being taken and in December the action should continue. December is the perfect month to try and pin a few fingermark or their cousins, the mangrove jacks, and there have been plenty of both taken recently. The jacks have been taking well presented lures, both hardbodies and plastics or fresh cut baits drifted into some mangrove structure on the rising tide.

The fingermark are taking slow trolled deep running lures (4m and 5m RMG) through the day and choice live baits fished into the deep holes and structure during the night time. Prime time for live baiting the fingermark is either side of the tide changes with the high tide period usually being the most productive. The smaller neap tides after the moons are also better for these fish.

Over the next couple of months there will also be some good salmon about, both blues and kings, particularly off the beaches. An excellent way to finish off a day is to spend an hour or so at sunset relaxing on one of the many local beaches drifting out a fresh cut bait or livey for a salmon. This style of fishing is perfect for a change during the barramundi closed season and could score you a salmon or even the elusive tripletail or jumping cod. Leave your best quality baitcaster at home for these occasions.

A good outfit for this task is a 7ft spinning rod matched with a spinning reel capable of holding a couple of hundred metres of 6kg mono which will handle most of what you are after. Use about 60cm of 40lb mono trace with your favourite 3/0 of 4/0 long shank hook, below a number 3 or 4 ball sinker and swivel.

If you still haven’t caught your first big barra, then hitting the fresh water impoundments such as Lake Tinaroo is an ideal time to nail your first metre plus barramundi. December is absolutely prime time and the 4-5 days leading up to the full moon on December 23. I prefer to fish the afternoon and then continue through into the night until the moon is nice and high.

Casting fizzers, gold bombers and other shallow hardbodies around the edges of the lake and particularly lilly pad areas under the moonlight is a great summertime fishing option. This can be done from your tinny or, if you like, on foot from any of the extensive and accessible shorelines around the dam with your backpack.

The wet season build up is always a fascinating one when you notice the subtle changes that occur within the inshore marine environments at this time of the year. The bait schools thin out and become very scarce in our rivers and then we start noticing millions of tiny new bait schools appearing, signalling the arrival of the new seasons’ hatch.

At this time of year when the tides are small and the weather is so hot and still, the warm smaller creeks can be lifeless. In these conditions the fishing can be far more productive in deeper water and also at night or very early morning for lure fishing when conditions are a little cooler.

If there is an increase in the storm activity there can be some not so subtle overnight deluges that will turn the rivers red and make for some pretty challenging fishing conditions at very short notice. Heavy shower activity can turn the rivers to flood and flush out remaining bait schools right down to the river mouths where they can be dispersed.

The period before the rains can bring a few surprises as there are always some really big fish hanging around through the summer months and they can turn up unexpectedly. Very little rain will see the incursion of tidal salt water well up into the normally fresh water precincts of the rivers, bringing with it some large visiting predators such as queenfish, big GT’s and the occasional extra large barracuda to liven up your day.

Till next month…enjoy your Christmas and New Year and good fishing to you.

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