Thanks to Cyclone Larry and a lot of follow up rain, Koombooloomba Dam has risen around 40% and the Tully River has been given a bit of a flushing. When the river clears up a bit, it should start producing some excellent sooty grunter and jungle perch fishing.
For new comers to the Tully, it’s an easy 140km drive south of Cairns or 210km north of Townsville, so it’s certainly possible to make a day trip out of it if you’re staying in either of those regional cities. Upon entering the township of Tully, simply follow the signs to the Tully Gorge.
You don’t need a boat or a canoe to fish this river, although a canoe would certainly give you greater access to some of the prime fishing spots. Just remember that there are some large crocs in this system and with the recent rains they will have pushed themselves further upstream and may turn up in unexpected spots.
Accessing the river is fairly simple just look for some large white numbers on the roadway. These are the evacuation points for whitewater rafters and they provide pain free entrance to the waterway. Make sure that you don’t park your vehicle in the middle of these evacuation points in case they’re needed.
As for the fishing tackle go light bream style with a handful of small surface lures – the noisier the better. I like to use a 1-3kg Strudwick Softbodz coupled with a Shimano Stradic 1000 loaded up with 4lb Berkley Fireline and 6lb fluorocarbon leader. I prefer to use surface lures when targeting sooties and jungle perch for two main reasons. The first is that it’s pretty hard to get one of these things caught up on unseen snags, but my main reason is for pure delight – I get a kick out of seeing these lures getting smashed on the top water.
My latest addition to the tackle box is a C’ultiva GOBO popper topped off with Owner hooks. It’s 6cm long and weighs slightly over 6g and is very reasonable price wise. On my most recent trips it’s accounted for over 40 jungle perch and has been inhaled by countless numbers of sooties and tarpon. Thanks to the Owner hooks, the hook-up to strike ratio is fairly high and even the tarpon have difficulty in shaking the lure during their aerial acrobatics. I would make the suggestion that you may like to consider crushing the barbs, as sooties will frequently inhale all three points of the treble. It certainly makes it easier to extract the lure with minimal damage to the fish and even your fingers at times.
Give the Tully a go and you won’t be disappointed. However make sure you have heaps of insect repellent and a good pair of shoes suitable for walking the stones. The mosquitoes and march flies are pretty friendly at times and the rocks are very slippery.Reads: 3313