Rain, rain – come and play!
  |  First Published: April 2006

The first cyclone of 2006 formed in the Coral Sea in late February. Cyclone Kate didn’t cause any destruction to Mackay or even provide a good dump of rain. By early March I had recorded just over 80mm, which is a start, but won’t help our dams. At least it means a lot less water has to be used to irrigate cane.

The rain will dictate what fishing happens in our area over April and I want to see the place flooded out, dams filled and all the saltwater creeks and systems given a good flush out. This hasn’t happened for a few years and it would be great for all our fisheries – anglers would even get a chance to do some gear maintenance!

So far this year Mackay has been firing on all cylinders in the barra fishery. The combination of hot humid weather, fairly calm winds and lots of baitfish hanging around has seen barra going bananas all over the district.

In the freshwater Eungella, Kinchant and Teemburra dams have all been producing good quality fish with the majority coming from Kinchant. Fish have been caught trolling, lurecasting and on the fly with plenty of 1m+ fish coming aboard. Every angler I have spoken to has been bitten by the Kinchant barra bug and most of them have great catches to show off.

Kinchant Dam

‘Nifty’ Nev Deem and his son Carl have been focusing on dam fishing lately after boating over ten 1m+ barra so far this year – they’re well and truly hooked.

All their barra were caught around the same areas while trolling fairly large lures. Try targeting weedbeds in 4m of water. The boys fished mainly in the late afternoon and into the early evening, with Carl outfishing his dad by 3-4 fish. Of course Nifty spends most of his time driving the boat so he has less chance than Carl.

Teemburra dam

Teemburra hasn’t been firing but fish are there for anglers who put in the time. John Trigg haunts the dam and regularly catches 90cm barra. John’s happy with 6-8 barra a session and is really pleased when he runs across a small 50cm barra because that shows more year classes are coming through.

John rarely trolls for barra and loves getting up in the sticks and heavy timbered area. He often gets stitched up, but that just adds to the fun. Barra are great fun out in the open water, but in amongst the snags they are even better. Fishing here also gives John plenty of chances with sooties.

With all the rain, thunder and lightning around at the moment, I reckon Teemburra is about to go off, especially if there is some substantial run into the dam. Keep those casting arms ready, get those old hooks and be ready!

Eungella Dam

Eungella Dam has been fishing well with plenty of barra on the bite. Most have been caught up in the sticks and there are plenty of quality sooties mixed in with barra. I wonder if we could get some jacks and tarpon stocked – that would make Eungella really interesting! I don’t like our chances of convincing the Government and Fisheries.

Prosperpine river

Saltwater barra have been on the chew from the Broadsound area to Proserpine River which attracts so many Mackay anglers that we can almost claim it as ours. The Proserpine River is a large saltwater system that has flood plains along Gogango. Many of these lagoons, flood plains and drains are passed over while driving the Bruce Highway, so keen anglers lure fish from the roadside.

All the creeks nearer to Mackay are fishing well with plenty of quality grunter, barra and jacks around. Geoff Walsh told me that he missed out on barra and king salmon recently but scored a couple of nice grunter. Geoff fishes Murray Creek and rarely returns empty handed.

Brendan’s Big Barra

A young mate of mine, Brendan Agius, caught one of the best salty barras I’ve heard of in a long time. Try taking a small live mullet and feeding it down current in a likely spot and you’ll probably land a barra.

Brendan did that and caught the barra of a lifetime. He worked the fish until he had it boatside and realised the 30kg fish was way over the legal length. It measured just a whisker over 1.3m – a huge barra in anyone’s language. Several witnesses confirmed the catch but no one had a camera around to record the catch.

The barra was released and we all hope it manages a couple more spawning seasons before its days are over. Fish like that are so precious and can produce up to 250,000 eggs a season.

MAFSA Clinic

Recently the Mackay Area Fish Stocking Authority (MAFSA) conducted a free freshwater fishing clinic along with its membership drive. About 75 anglers turned up to learn about fish stocking, and catching sooties and barra in our dams.

Darren Jennings gave an informative talk on angling for sooties using fly gear, soft plastics and hard-bodied lures. During the question time, a couple of youngsters shared some of their exploits on sooties. It seems that bits of bacon have been finding favour with sooties. It’s great to hear about youngsters getting out and catching the results of MAFSA members’ efforts.

I presented the barra session and enjoyed hearing about other anglers’ efforts and methods during the question time. I was pleased with the number of people who spoke to me about the fantastic job MAFSA has been doing. With a bit of luck my barra session may have helped a few to hook up their first dam barra.

Update on mafsa sooties

In March’s QFM I reported a successful spawning of sooties in the MAFSA hatchery. Unfortunately most of the eggs weren’t viable and out of 100,000 eggs only 5000 fish were produced. They were all released and hopefully another female or two can be injected and induced to spawn.

Keep your eyes on the weather and plan your trips accordingly. Remember just before and straight after a cyclone, fish in salt and fresh water are really on the chew, so don’t miss out.

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