The storms in late January and those forecast for the first few weeks of February should kick-start the opening of barra season.
Hot, dirty, muggy conditions usually make barra chew their heads off. Afternoon thunderstorms are a major barra activity period and spark barra into a feeding frenzy. If you’re going to test this theory be very careful especially when you’re holding a 6’ graphite lightning rod.
When chasing mangrove jacks and fingermark recently there were more sightings and the odd hook up of quality barra particularly in the river. The run-off from the northern rivers and creeks usually leaves the river fairly dirty and many of the other species depart leaving only barra and king salmon. Hopefully the barra will have finished spawning and will slowly begin to move back to their home range and spread out a bit.
When there is a big localized flow the smaller fish will probably try and move into the fresh to fatten up. The bigger fish cover a wider area before the large females head downstream into the saltier extremes for winter. One or two spots from the previous year have changed completely and now there is a lot of fish that weren’t there before.
When trying to find new areas to fish, a whole day's tides trial is best. Watch the sounder noting depths and features that could work on later parts of the tide. GPS is the way to go or take a photo of the bank where the features are so you can find them next time. Time spent looking for additional structures is well spent when you reap the dividends in the future. More than a few times these spots have proven to be the difference between feast and famine.
Baitfish and prawns tend to be very quiet and livies can be hard to come by after the rain. Those of us that live down the beach can hit Ross Creek, Rosslyn Bay Harbour and Barwells Creek to pick up some great live bait before heading to Rockhampton where the majority of the better barra are still holding. The young Rocky locals have a ‘Plan B’ when bait is scarce, they catch bony bream in the creek behind Stockland or at The Woolwash. Although bony bream are a freshwater fish they live more than long enough in the slightly diluted salt water to be a great barra bait. Lures also have a high ranking in nailing barramundi so you won’t be left without options.
Average sized prawns were caught at lots of places last week with plenty of the local creeks showing signs of a decent season mounting. There should be a few prawns along Greenslopes and Solero, during the low tides on the moon. Soon they will probably be big enough for a decent feed, if we don't get too much rain. Then they move out of our reach into Keppel Bay. You will see the old blokes brigade working the incoming tide as the prawns move right into the beach. Remember to keep only one 10L bucket of prawns, not the bigger 20L bucket. Prawns probably grow about 25mm a week when the water has the right amount of fresh, it doesn’t take long from pee wees to kings.
Salmon are starting to run in the river after a quieter than usual period. I was in town on the weekend and I saw a very healthy specimen caught from the rocks over the road from The Criterion on Quay St. Reports Kings are chewing down along the mudbanks heading downstream from town. Grunter are another species showing signs of being in good supply in coming weeks with several quality fish caught on prawns in The Fitzroy River, Coorooman Creek and the odd one at Corbett's Landing. Corio Bay and Waterpark Creek showed a bit of promise with some queenies and small trevally taken on Flashas just inside the heads. Down at Coorooman Creek there was some activity with the odd barra caught while targeting salmon at the timbers and up the back at a couple of the rock bars. The occasional fingermark made an appearance over the tides. Bream, flathead, blubberlip and whiting should be the pick of the rest.
The run-off from The Fitzroy after rain is quite substantial and affects all the fishing along the Capricorn Coast. When the barrage gates are open the flow can reach as far north as The Pinnacles and Corio Bay. It only takes a few days for water clarity return to normal providing we don’t get a southeaster in the meantime to keep the bay brown. Barren, Man & Wife and Outer will have better shows than the closer islands due to the dirty water in the bay.
Lots of fish are within easy range for most of the tinnies in Rocky and Yeppoon. There are stacks of mackerel, sweeties, cod, parrot, trevally, cobia or coral trout at different spots all around the local islands on most days.
The calm offs that we’ve been waiting for allow plenty of escape for the summer mackerel and reef fish run to get some attention. It is possible to score top Spanish mackerel at Farnborough, Iron Pot, Ritamada and Corio heads, though the better quality sized fish are at the wider grounds. Great catches of school mackerel are available just off the local beaches and headlands on the calmer mornings. Doggies have started moving in from the wider areas. They will increase until they will be at nearly all the local doggie hotspots. The odd school of spotted mackerel has been moving into the bay in small numbers and as March draws nearer spotties are going to start showing up at some of their usual spots. Spotties don't normally hang around for long until later in the year so keep your ears to the ground.
Coral trout are the favourite of lots of local anglers in summer and they’re in numbers and size right around The Keppels. From previous experience depth won’t make a lot of difference as long as there is cover. The shale type rock structures and reef give trout shelter and great ambush spots. Floating down lightly weighted baits or casting deep divers and soft plastics can often draw strikes from trout. Fingermark, moses perch, matty cod and sweetlip showed us that using nearly anything on the right day would give you a return.
Moses perch will grab a well presented Flasha.
Doggy mackerel of all sizes love structure.
Joyce Barry landed this red jew behind The Keppels.Reads: 650