Queenfish are one of the most exiting fish available to everyone. These fish are found all over our local area, often in so close that you can drive to a spot where you can score queenies.
The best place to fish for queenies recently has been the Causeway Lake on the run. During glass offs the Rosslyn Bay Harbour wall, around from the mouth to the jew hole, has also been producing quality queenies. Beach fishing from Sandy Point on the incoming tide has also been hard to beat.
The islands all hold lots of skinnies so when the big tourist cats pull away from the beach and stir up holse in the bottom, queenies will flock in to sort out the disorientated hardies. Corio Heads and Little Corio have been favourite haunts of the tinnie brigade to target quality fish.
In March and April queenies will wait in the mouth of Corio Bay to chase the greenback herrings and hardihead schools moving into the system. Lures from lead slugs to divers, poppers, plastics and livebaits all attract queenfish.
I was out at the heads one day when I saw a bloke trolling at a quick pace. I’ve never trolled for queenies before I so thought he was crazy, until he landed his first fish and then his second shortly after. I tried the same tactic and immediately scored a 4kg skinny.
Queenies are smash and grab merchants when it comes to livebait. They tear into the mobs of hardiheads, herring, bony bream and whitebait. Hardies should be hooked through the lip, while greenbacks and bony bream should be rigged on a 3/0 suicide hook pushed through on top of the eye. This gives the baitfish full movement to catch the queenies focus. In April plenty of 1-2kg golden trevally will follow queenfish around Corio and are an excellent by-catch.
Use high-speed retrieves with poppers and divers because queenfish love to snatch at fast moving things. With slugs and plastics an erratic retrieve, first slow then fast will work well.
Black jew are a favourite of Capricorn anglers in April and through the cooler months. These big hard fighting fish come to spawn in several locations around Yeppoon. Several of these spots are within easy access for just about any size boat in the right conditions. Unlike the areas further north black jew are almost always caught in shallow waters at night in Yeppoon.
Spanish mackerel have been schooling at a few of the outer islands and feeding aggressively. In February they were seen in schools hundreds of metres long, leaping out of the water. The Spaniards that were caught were all fat, very dark and had a thick slime covering which is a good indication that they’re almost ready to travel or spawn. Baitfish in the bay will dictate the size of the lures and troll baits that work the best.
In February the bait schools included 150-200mm rainbow runners and 100mm herring. Bonito and ribbonfish work well as baits but gar and livies will work better. Take bait jigs with you to get fresh livebait when you can.
Spaniards tend to hang a bit deeper as the sun comes up so use downriggers and troll heads to get down to where the fish feeding. We always have a high-speed jig rod handy when trolling because Spanish mackerel will follow a fast chromie and grab a bait on the way past. Taipans, Raiders and Flashas will all work well. The faster you can wind – the more fish you will catch.
The spotted mackerel run at the end of last year and the early run this year seem to have bypassed Yeppoon. We have had a flow of unusually warm currents and poor water clarity that may have pushed the spotties out wide. When we have southeasterlies stirring up the bay, the sand particles cloud the whole water column and mackerel avoid it like the plague.
Places in deeper clearer water unaffected by weather conditions should still have the spotties. The outer edge of the Innamincka Shoals, approx. 109km from Rosslyn Bay Harbour, had some passing schools earlier this year. 2004 was a great year for mackerel and hopefully things will return to normal soon, otherwise only the bigger craft will have a shot at them.
Mucrabs have been around in February. On average April’s bucks are nearly always full and fairly big. We have had an ongoing problem with crab pot raiders and thieves, so the DPI are using microchips again. They have put chips into buck muddies inside set pots in the worst area and then check boats as they return to the ramp. If they have a chipped crab they are nabbed straight away. Previous visits have paid dividends almost immediately. Strategies by the DPI to help prevent sharefarmers will eventually show results one way or the other in crab numbers and lost gear.
Many of the baby barramundi have, with any luck, got past the barrages and made their way into the freshwater to grow before venturing back down to the salt to breed in time to come. Mature barramundi have started to head downstream towards their winter hangouts around the headlands harbour walls and close in islands. There isn’t any rush so they will they just cruise down at their leisure over the next couple of months.
The chances of capturing a big barra are quite good in the bays, creek and river mouths. The warmer days give them the opportunity to fatten up as they slow in the cooler months. Big livebaits are definitely the go although a well presented lure might draw a strike. Mullet, bony bream, whiting and big prawns feature heavily in the barras diet making these the choice for the baitfishers.Reads: 1958