Smart guide to outsmart fish
  |  First Published: December 2008

The pristine Whitsundays is an excellent place to be in January with plenty of angling options and opportunities available.

The beauty about the Whitsundays is the huge range of tropical fish species to target topped off with majestic surroundings – it’s the angler’s ultimate dream!

Growing up here and fishing the Whitsundays extensively we’ve found that the waters are a hive of different fish and marine life, but that doesn’t mean the fish are easy to catch!

Smart fishing

Smart fishing can be an excellent way to catch more fish in any fishing location and it works very well in this area. Smart fishing is knowing things like what tackle should be used for each species, knowing where your target species feed and what on, and being able to place baits and lures in the right spots.

These can all increase the amount of fish you catch and it’s fairly easy to learn the basics. Once you know about smart fishing your time on the water usually becomes much more rewarding.

Saltwater fishing

There is a range of saltwater fish to target in the area as well as a range of different ways to go about catching them. Outlined below are three top fish species and the techniques used for catching them in the Whitsundays in January.


Flathead are always really fun to catch. They are fairly easy to find too, just look for shallow sandy patches with rocks near the shoreline. If there is shallow rocky point areas with bait and deep water nearby, the chance of flathead is much larger.

One of the best lures for flathead is without a doubt the soft plastic. Flathead just love a soft bait slowly worked past them with an erratic movement – they can’t resist it! One of the most effective baits we’ve found is the Squidgy Stealth Prawn rigged on a light jighead with 10lb fluorocarbon leader. Depending on how sharp the area you’re fishing is – it can be a good option to use light fluorocarbon leader. If there’s heaps of a jagged oysters and other debris that are prime targets for fish to bust you off on, try going with a heavier leader.


Giant Trevally are a great fish to target in January, especially on large surface lures like Nomad Cubera poppers, Ulua stickbaits and Halco Haymaker poppers.

Big GT love hanging around any deep rocky headlands with lots of current and baitfish in big numbers. Cast the bait right up among the rocks and work it back on the surface over the drop-offs into the deep. Trevally will usually eyeball the surface commotion from down deep and rise up very fast to take the bait by surprise – the strikes are usually very feisty!

Big bream

Another fish that are great to target in January are big bream. They can be found around the many types of inshore cover in the Whitsunday area. Man made features such as large boat hulls, jetty pylons, pontoons and rock walls all seem to hold big bream and the more growth on the cover the better it is.

In the estuaries, big bream can be caught on shallow drop-offs, among oyster structure, mangroves, lay down bushes and timber in the water. During high tide, bream love searching the shallowly flooded mangroves for crustaceans and small baitfish. Wind churning the water can also make these shallow mangroves a great place as the turbulence can create a comfortable place for hunting bream.

Squidgy Pro Range flick bait, wriggler, worm and critter soft plastics are great baits to cast and bream love them in the shallows on a lightly weighted jighead.

Impoundment barra

Big barramundi at Peter Faust Dam are an excellent target for January. The temperatures are nice and warm and there’s plenty of surface activity. Early mornings and late afternoon’s can be a truly excellent time for Faust fishing in January. Our favourite times are from 4.30am to 9am as we usually always find a lot of activity during these times.

This is a great time to cast surface lures over the shallows as barramundi will be looking up searching for bony bream and barred grunter feeding on the surface. The Squidgy Boof Frog is another awesome surface lure and works very well with a flat-out or a slower, more subtle rise and sink retrieve.

Trolling is also usually a very productive technique during January with big barramundi feeding in open water, away from the edges. This is when jigging can be a good option – when you mark fish on the sounder, punch in a mark on your GPS and work the area with either casts or vertical presentations. But hold on, as a big fish will bite.

Jigging is an awesome experience!

Overcast conditions can be great in the daylight as it keeps the water dark and comfortable for the fish – this 119cm also seemed to think so and was caught at 10am in 3ft of water.

Impoundment barra are great targets in January, especially around drop-offs as they are usually waiting down deeper in the cooler water.

Big barramundi love eating small baits. This 120cm fish swallowed a 100mm True Blue Squidgy Slick Rig.

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