February is a very hot month, which can shut down a few estuary fishing options. With storms and constant hot days the smaller creeks can be either too hot or too fresh and dirty so it’s a good time to head to the bigger systems like the Baffle, Burnett and even down to the Burrum River.
For the lure fisher it’s a good time to get up early and fish shallow water snags, before doing a bit of trolling in the deeper holes as the sun starts to bite and then getting off the water after 11am until late in the afternoon.
It seems that the Burnett just keeps on producing the goods and an early morning troll around the north wall and around the dumping ground should see you into a few mackerel. For the super keen, casting some big Halco Rooster Poppers at the wreck on the north wall as the sun rises should see some good queenfish and trevally action. As the sun rises these fish will move into the deeper water in the main channel and can be located with a good sounder. Dropping some big plastics in amongst these fish is a great way of getting some more action as the day heats up.
Further up river the holes near the ferry crossing fish very well at daybreak. Trolling deep diving minnows or jigging Prawnstars around the rocky bombies is a great way to get fish on the move here.
The upper reaches of the Baffle will probably be very fresh or very hot so it’s a good time to hit the middle reaches of the system. The ferry crossing area can be very productive this time of the year. An early start casting lures around the islands down from the ferry crossing should see some nice jacks, cod and plenty of flathead on the move. My favourite plastic for this area is a Berkley 4” Minnow Grub in either the clear or the purple colours work them across the shallow sand and down into the deeper drop-offs this usually attracts a few flathead and trevally.
Further down river the old boiling down rock ledge will certainly be worth a crack for some jacks and cod especially if some baitfish are hanging around the point. The shallow water around the smaller islands in the lower reaches will produce a few flathead and trevally on plastics if worked early in the morning – again look for schools of baitfish and concentrate on fishing around them.
Now that the holidays are over the Burrum is a good option this time of the year. Concentrate on the deeper water early in the morning using deeper diving lures.
I have been fishing this area for many years and have found that the better fishing is done on the last of the run-out tide and the first of the run-in and if this happens at 5am you’re in with a better chance of a good session. You really need to be putting the boat in at daybreak to avoid the heat and fish the better spots like the black bank and the mouth of the Gregory. Otherwise the glaring heat, boat noise and traffic will force you from the water.
If you want to sneak up a creek try the top of the Gregory there are plenty of rock bars and fallen trees that will hold good jacks and the odd barra there will also be plenty of big bream so try a few surface lures and work them slowly. The river mouth will have plenty of flathead and the best way to put a few in the boat is by trolling a couple of shallow diving lures around the edges of the main channels. Small shallow lures like the Tilsan Bass and the Mann’s Stretch Five have caught plenty of flatties throughout this system.
I was fortunate enough to have a week away and fish Lake Proserpine in the ABT BARRA tour. It was a great learning experience trying to put a plan together where you have to cast and retrieve for 7 hours in a dam. Then once you had hooked a fish you only had half a chance to land it.
My fishing partner Brad (Chainsaw) Cooper and I caught some great barra on Halco Scorpions trolling points and bays prior to the tournament. We used our trolling path on the GPS to pinpoint where fish were holding. This was my first trip with my Matrix 87 colour sounder in the freshwater and it took a little while to figure out what the barra looked like in the open water on the sounder. The barra showed up on the sounder as suspended stripes stacked on top of each other when they weren’t moving. When they were on the move they looked like larger bass.
I did manage to get one barra by fishing under the electric motor where the fish were moving in and out of the sounder beam. I rigged a 5’’ Berkley Jerk Shad plastic and jigged it in front of one fish for about ten minutes before the barra just couldn’t resist it. That barra went 105cm and was taken on 14lb Fireline on my spin rod. And yes, it did give me some curry; fortunately my fishing partner was a good net man. I finally managed to take some money from ABT and the whole experience was a great one. I will certainly be booking in to do the whole tour next year.Reads: 501