August is a very pleasant time of the year to be fishing up on the eastern side of the Gulf.
Temperatures have tapered off a little and the southeasterly trade winds that were battering the East Coast are now blowing offshore into the Gulf, making for pleasant conditions all round.
After the late wet season experienced up in the cape, the transition from wet to dry happened almost overnight. Rain scuds stopped coming through so regularly, water started clearing up and the schools of bait and small pelagic fish began moving up the rivers.
We have now reached the transition from barra fishing to the range of other options available this time of year. However, barra and king salmon have still been biting well at drain outlets on the last half of the run-out tide.
Up here, systems such as the Love and Ward rivers have shallow lake areas before turning into the river proper. Besides holding good numbers of baitfish, these shallow lake areas allow the water to remain that little bit warmer than the rivers, especially when very shallow water runs out over the flats. When a little bit of breeze mixes the warmer (dirtier) and cooler (cleaner) water together, anchoring up to fish the colour change with shallow running lures has worked well.
Threadfin salmon have also been munching on prawns and tiny baitfish around these shallow drains. It can be frustrating when you can see plenty of fish, struggle for hook ups and then miss out as they spit the lure back at your head.
Recently we anchored up to fish a large drain that poured out mullet from a long shallow flat. Barra were queuing up on the outskirts of the run-off, smashing anything that swam by. My lure landed in almost the same spot six times, and was hit straight away. Poppers were working in the middle of the day, with some fantastic surface strikes taking larger than average fish.
Two weeks later the same drain fired as warm water poured off the huge flat, carrying a thick jelly prawn soup into deeper water. Threadfin salmon were leaping over themselves to gorge on the plentiful little crustaceans. Live mullet, strip baits, poppers and minnows were all ignored on the whole, with only four nice salmon (out of the hundreds working) hitting the deck. Salmon have beautiful white flesh accentuated by their prawn diet makes them a desirable target. Most of them were around the 90cm mark and they pulled like trucks.
Jacks and saratoga have begun to make their presence felt as the water clarity improves. Saratoga have been caught well and truly into the brackish and mangrove lined sections of the cleaner systems. Most have come from the shaded mouths of tiny feeder creeks, on shallow rattling lures just flicked around on the surface
Bait is everywhere, both inshore and outside, at this time of year. The weather has been patchy with fairly strong southerly breezes making the outside water a bit lumpy, but tuna, trevally, queenfish and small mackerel have all been available for anglers. These species should continue to fire over the coming months, making the slight lull in the barra fishing this time of year pass quickly.Reads: 772