Fishing back from the floods
  |  First Published: April 2008

Offshore trips have become a bit of a health hazard of late. Heavy rain in the Herbert River catchment and the Tully River has pushed thousands of logs into offshore waters making night trips a game of Russian roulette.

I must have avoided about 60 logs on a recent trip offshore, all big enough to sink a decent size boat. I guess that all coastal waters right down to Brisbane will hold many floating nasties after this year’s wet season, so take care when travelling offshore.

The big wet has continued to send a lot of water down Hinchinbrook Channel and that has created mixed results in the estuaries in the last month.

Cardwell Sportfishing Club held its first annual Barra Bonanza fishing competition. The brilliant weather ensured everyone had a great time. The biggest barra was caught by local guru Mark ‘Sharkey’ Jocelyn measuring 95cm, the largest jack was caught by Chris Stoter at 54cm and the Champion Team title went to the ladies from Ingham, Team No-Nuts. This is a great social competition and I will look forward to having a fish next year. The lads told me that there are some bigger sponsors interested in next year’s event.

Missionary Bay is fishing better for fingermark and grunter than the Channel itself. The bay does not receive the freshwater that flows from the Channel so it always fishes well during the wet. However, the barra do like the fresh and are being mainly caught in Hinchinbrook Channel when it floods.

I have noticed that the barra develop some strange habits when the channel is in flood. They seem to go off the bite a bit during the day and head out into deeper water on the flats, but as soon as dusk arrives they head for the nearest gutter or obstruction in the shallows and start crashing the bait schools. When the floodwaters finally clear up properly we will go back to finding them on the deeper ledges and holes in the rivers.

By late April we should see the waterways settle down and get back to some fishing normality. We may even see some early Spaniards come in to pressure points around the inshore islands. Golden trevally should also start to make an appearance in inshore waters and you can sometimes see them feeding on the flats and shallow reef areas. Saltwater flies and soft plastics drifted in front of them are the best techniques when they feed in the shallows.

On a more sour note, the DPI and Fisheries are proposing to re-introduce barra gillnetting in the Hinchinbrook Channel and other areas where the Dugong Protection Areas (DPA) exist. This is absolutely one of the most ridiculous proposals I have ever heard and there is obviously some political interference once again. Apart from Cape York and Weipa, this area is one of the last fishing tourism destinations left on the east coast and this proposal will destroy all the hard work that tour operators and local businesses have put into promoting this region. We need all Queensland anglers to get behind blocking this stupid proposal. This time I hope the fishery administrators’ wake up to themselves before they destroy this asset to tourism. Where are the tourism bodies when you need them!

If you would like to come up and see what the region has to offer and have a fish while you’re here give us a call on 0414341972.

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