Bring on the Heat
  |  First Published: November 2006

As far as I am concerned the weather can’t get hot enough! The balmy TNQ nights signal the start of the fingermark season. Fingermark should stay around until the end of April depending on the water temperature, so it’s a fun-filled time for keen anglers.

Most dedicated fingermark anglers will target the species at night using freshly caught or live squid. A small light hung over the side of the boat or floated in styrofoam will attract the squid to your boat when they can then be scooped, cast netted or jigged.

Generally if there aren’t squid where you have chosen to fish, then there may be very few or no fingermark in the spot and a short move may be necessary. On the other side of the coin, if there are squid in plentiful numbers, the fingermark won’t be too far away.

The areas to try around Townsville include the shipping channel and the Middle Reef markers, Virigo Shoal, Cape Cleveland, Bara and Baby islands, Sallamander Reef, Bay and Burdekin rocks and any of the headlands around Magnetic Island.

Dropper or paternoster rigs are the most popular because of the amount of small mouth nannygai and other under-sized pickers that will be around. These rigs keep your hard earned live bait up off the bottom and hopefully away from these pests. A bonus is that you will catch more fingermark too!

Even though live squid is the number one bait for fingermark, mullet and greenback or mud herring will also account for plenty of fingermark around Townsville and should not be overlooked if the squid are scarce.

Tactics for fighting big fingermark range from going as hard as you can to stop them from busting you up in the closest snag to going as gentle as you can to sneak them away from trouble and into the boat. My advice is to find the tactic that works for you and stick with it.

Handlines have been used for decades with good returns, but a good rod and reel with a minimum of 10kg line (braid or mono) with a 30kg leader is a better option for most these days.

Strong hooks are a must and 7/0 Tru-Turns are my favourite because of their strength and excellent hook-up rate. Again, there are no hard and fast rules on which hook works best, just make sure they are strong!

It is also worth noting that fingermark don’t start spawning until they are around 7 years old and somewhere around 60-70cm. This means 80cm+ fish are extremely valuable to the fishery as breeders and may be up to 15 years old. They species can actually grow up to 25-30 years so please consider releasing the big breeders as photos are enough to prove your prowess.

With the barra season closed, everyone should be releasing any accidental captures and serious anglers won’t be targeting them at all. This allows barra to breed without any stress as a captured barramundi can drop her unfertilised eggs due to overexertion. She will then try to recover by sulking away down deep and all future anglers have missed that spawn of a possible 3 million barra. Please read that last sentence again as that is a lot of future barra that don’t make it into the water. And we still need every fish we can get!

Until next month consider your future in our great sport. We all want to be teaching our grandchildren how to fish way off in the future.

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