Brilliant Barra Action
  |  First Published: March 2006

Townsville has had stinking hot days with coastal humidity similar to that of a sauna recently. The night-time weather is only slightly more comfortable with air-conditioning sales at an all time high. As a fisherman, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

All of Queensland’s summer species are now on anglers wish lists as the prime time to target them has finally arrived. Hopefully by mid March the monsoon rains we have been missing will have arrived.

Last month saw some great barramundi caught and released from local rivers and creeks.

The Haughton River south of Townsville produced the really hot sessions in January of smaller thrashing barra for both lure and bait fisherman. The hot tip around town is to work the drop-offs on one of the many sandbars at the mouth or around bends. If you’re willing and able to fish the twilight hours the same areas will hold feeding fish as the tide falls forcing the bait back into the main river.

The same principle is used when fishing a large rising tide. Baitfish move out of the main river onto the sandbars to escape from predators that are moving in to feed. If the tides coincide with dawn or dusk your chances are greatly improved. This is because with low light conditions fish tend to feed more freely, and they will attack baits or lures that may not be perfect and otherwise remain uneaten during full daylight.

Estuary fishermen have been complaining of plenty of under sized barra captures. The best way to avoid this is to use larger baits, like 10” strips of mullet or whiting or troll larger lures instead of casting. When it comes to fishing Townsville’s creeks it is all about location, location, location. Snags, rocks, drop-offs and man-made structure offer protection from predators and if there is significant current flow there should be all types of fish from small bait to large predators, such as barra, close by.

If we get flooding rain and the weirs begin flowing then Apliens Weir in Annandale will be the number one big barra spot around Townsville. Big freshwater barra are forced over the weir wall and saltwater barra make their way up stream to the bottom of the wall to feed on the excess bait and to spawn in the brackish run-off water.

‘No run, no fun’ certainly rings true out on the wild blue. Reef and pelagic fish all like to feed during tidal movements, so watch out for current lines around reef edges and coral bombies. These are the areas to sound around and look for fish concentrations. Deeper water between reefs with some bottom structure such as wrecks, shale, shoals or even coral are also worth a good look.

Coral trout and red throat emperor have made up most of the blue water catches with a few reds thrown in more as an incidental capture rather than a target species. As the water cools towards the end of the month the red emperor and large mouth nannygais should come back into the shallower shoals and wrecks. This will give small boat anglers a fair shot at a trophy red.

I’m still fishing nights, targeting large fingermark. Clients have found the night-time temperatures more bearable than the humid days we’ve been getting. Live squid and mullet are by far the better baits to use on running or dropper rigs. Use as small a sinker as possible just to keep the bait on the bottom while not letting our fingers feel the weight of the sinker when they are being finicky and not smashing the baits.

Cape Cleveland, 20 Foot Rock, 4 Foot Rock and Maggie Island headlands are all still holding good numbers of fingers and are well worth the effort if you’re keen on a challenge! Big fingermark are renowned for making short work of inferior tackle or busting up anglers when they are not ready for the power of their runs.

10kg gear is the recommended minimum for targeting fingers around such heavy structure. Don’t be discouraged if you lose more than you catch as it’s a fine line between being to close to cover and the fish busting the line or being to far away and not getting any bites.

Remember that fingermark are a very slow growing fish, a 70cm fish may be over fifteen years old and only just starting to breed. Please consider releasing any finger over the 80cm mark as this will ensure the restocking of your favourite spot. We all still want to be fishing in ten or twenty years!!

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