March Means Good Fishing!
  |  First Published: March 2006

March is the time to catch a barra in the Gulf. The water should be pumping off the flats and wetlands and the drains and feeder creeks will all moving food into the river. All the tiny fish and crustaceans should be being washed in and have provided the catalyst for some barra action.

An active monsoonal trough resulted in big tides, dirty water and plenty of wind for the beginning of this year’s barra season. Despite the slow start there are a few eager fish around.

March brings a feeding free-for-all. Grunter will be in feeding on the flats and queenfish will be appearing around the Sand Island.

Wet Season Update

January saw a nice kick start to the wet season with a couple of monsoonal trough visiting the entire north of Australia.

What’s on the Cards

Normally March sees the start of the pelagic run at Karumba. Queenfish arrive at the Sand Island and begin to hunt baitfish, making them a target for lure and flyfishers. The odd Spaniard is also found following the schools of smaller queenfish around, so if you’re baitfishing in the deeper water it would pay to float out a pilchard. Other large pelagics such as cobia and those thuggish GTs also arrive at this time of year.

Fingermark should also make an offshore appearance. Fishing places like the end of the channel and any other area offshore with a bit of broken bottom will see these beautiful fish taking squid and mullet fillet baits. If you’re lucky enough to find a school try dropping down a jig or a Prawnstar for a bit of fun.

Grunter should be around the place but there is no way that I am going to offer any sought of a prediction.

Crabs are also worth a try but their quality can be a bit dodgy. Check them carefully as there are plenty of empties in their midst with commercial fisherman chasing them as well.

Successful Barra Breeding

Our local Gulf Barramundi Restocking Organisation has had one of its most successful periods breeding barra fingerlings. While numbers can’t be exact it’s believed to be something like several hundred thousand. The fish were apparently well and truly in the mood; hopefully the same can be said for the rest of the wild population. Perhaps they all knew the rain was coming?

Customs to the Rescue

After the influx of Foreign Fishing Vessels into the Gulf over the past 12 months it seems that now there will be an increase in the Customs presence as well. The following is a press release forwarded to me for inclusion in QFM by Customs.

Big increase in border protection for northern Australia

34 new Customs officers and four tactical response vessels will be deployed at key ports in a significant boost to border protection in Northern Australia. The announcement was made in late October 2005 by Fisheries Minister Senator Ian Macdonald and Customs Minister Senator Chris Ellison.

The new Customs positions will include six new positions in Broome, six on Thursday Island and 16 deployed between Darwin and Gove, while six officers will oversee the programme. The new vessels will be based in Darwin, Gove, Thursday Island and Broome.

This will enable Customs and the Royal Australian Navy to apprehend more foreign fishing boats and crews for investigation and prosecution. In 2005 there was a 67% increase in the number of actions taken by Customs and Navy vessels against illegal foreign fishing vessels.

Customs will also assume responsibility for receiving foreign fishermen at arrival ports and transferring them quickly and securely to existing detention facilities in Western Australia and South Australia, pending the establishment of a new Darwin detention centre in mid-2006.

The new staff and vessels are part of an $88 million funding boost announced by the Howard Government.

There you have it folks. See you after the wet!

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