Townsville set to fire in May
  |  First Published: May 2006

Townsville’s fishing really fires up in May with a great range of fish on offer and some high profile, big money fishing tournaments scheduled.

Tournament time

The Hinchinbrook Tag and Release Tournament is one of the north’s most prestigious estuary based tournaments. Based in Lucinda, the Ingham Game Fishing Club runs the tournament where competitors target a range of estuary fish in the Hinchinbrook Channel. The tournament is ‘invitation only’ and the numbers of anglers is capped, but participants will have some great stories to tell!

The major open tournament held in May is the Fishing Warehouse Predators Tournament. This event is run by the Townsville Game Fishing Club and boasts a fantastic range of prizes to cover a wide range of species so competitors can target their preferred species.

All species including whiting, bream, red emperor and marlin all are eligible for prizes to the value of $1000 in their own category. Runner up prizes are also available. Anglers are also in the running for lucky entry prizes valued at $11,384. These include a boat, GPS, water coolers, sunnies and cash. With a total prize pool of $36,500 and open entry the Fishing Warehouse Predators Tournament is sure to have anglers from far and wide dropping in a line. If you more information give the boys at the Fishing Warehouse a call on (07) 4779 8399 to receive an entry form.

Larry’s aftermath

Things are slowly returning to normal in north Queensland after Cyclone Larry, and now is the time to look at the silver lining of its terrible destruction. Fortunately, Townsville only received gale force winds that just put offshore fishing on hold. Thanks to these winds a number of new snags have been created in creeks and rivers creating a barra angler’s dream location.

A lot of the weirs north and south of Townsville are flowing better now after all the rain that we received, and freshwater barra can now access some of the tidal reaches that have been previously inaccessible.

Where to fish?

My pick to wet a line this month would be the Haughton River’s expansive fresh water lagoons and billabongs to the south of Townsville. The Townsville Fish Stocking Society has been stocking these waterways for almost ten years, roughly the same amount of time that commercial fishing has been banned from the Haughton, and everything is coming together to make this area an angler’s delight. Access to the Haughton is via Giru with an all tidal, concrete boat ramp. The Haughton River is known for having lots of large sandbanks, so if it’s your first trip down the system be sure to take it steady until you have located all these hazards.

There are plenty of hot spots to drop anchor on with new snags and plenty of holes, drop-offs and rockbars that can be easily located with your sounder.

For bait, try using live prawns in May; any muddy gutters or small creek mouths in the area should be holding plenty of big prawn on the lead up to the new and full moons, so dust off the cast net!

As the water temperature starts to cool this month it’s worth noting that any change in temperature, even a 1, can switch the fish on to feed mode. So, if you’re looking for a new toy to add to your stocks a temperature gauge on your sounder can be a very valuable device. Tie a paternoster rig to hopefully get the larger fish to travel up off the bottom while leaving the pickers closer to the bottom or structure.

Offshore will see the shoals really start to fire with yellow sweetlip, large and small mouth nannygai, red emperor, trevally and Spanish mackerel. Any small coral bombies or bait schools will be an area to try as will larger structure such as rocks, wrecks or headlands.

Inside Halifax and Cleveland bays the smaller mackerel species, such as school and doggie mackerel, will have turned up. The weedbeds off the mouth of Alligator Creek are a local hot spot that are easy to find, just look for the group of boats. The western side of Magnetic Island also has bragging rights to schools of mackerel with Burdekin and bay rocks the easiest to find while any structure in this area will be home to numbers of fish.

Pilchards are the number one choice for local experts with live greenback herring a close second. I believe school mackerel are at their best fresh, so there is no need to take your bag limit today when they are still out there to be caught tomorrow.

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