Plenty of Jewels in July
  |  First Published: July 2008

In the cool month of July, there are still plenty of options for fishing around the Whitsundays. In the following, we’ll describe some techniques that should give you a great chance at catching some fish over the next month.

Elevated sight fishing

Sight casting lures to fish is one of the most thrilling ways of fishing. Seeing a fish eat your lure is a unique experience. One technique that is very effective for fishing from the shore is called elevated sight fishing.

This technique can be done around any of the Whitsunday islands and works well on their shallow, clear and sandy reef flats. It involves two people; one with a rod at the waters edge and one up high above the angler with a pair of polarised sunglasses, usually sitting on a rocky point.

The person above the angler scans the water for fish and the angler below waits, ready for any calls of spotted fish. Clear, calm water and bright sun overhead are the key ingredients to make this technique work. If it’s overcast, early or late in the afternoon or the water is murky or rough, it can be difficult to see the shadows cast by cruising fish or the flashes of their sides as they turn. However, because the water around the islands is so clear nearly all of the time, this technique is perfect for the Whitsundays.

Queenfish, golden and giant trevally are the most encountered fish species with this technique. Small fish will often be spotted in large packs of around 15-20 and as the size of these fish goes up, the pack size decreases with the larger fish of around 25-50kg usually spotted individually.

Quite a few times we have seen a 35-45kg GT cruising the flats in 2m of clear water. Their movement is fast and we have always been unprepared for them – usually with a light spin rod and 10lb leader! So, if you’re doing this technique, bring a light spin rod and a heavy rod, with a large lure rigged up and ready as the big fish come to the flats to eat big baits.

Sooty grunter

Sooty grunter, most commonly known as sooties, are a fun fish to catch and are a good option when the saltwater is too rough for fishing.

Sooties can be caught around most of the freshwater streams in the Whitsunday area, as well as Peter Faust Dam where they grow to sizes of 55cm+.

In the dam, sooty grunter love to hang around any rocky areas with weed growth. The boat ramp at Faust is a great area for them and they love eating any small bait close to the rocks.

The Jackall Mask Vib soft lipless crankbait and the Squidgy Pro Range lobby and worm, rigged on light jigheads are ideal for sooty grunter. The 100mm Squidgy Slick Rig light is also a great bait for these fish.

One recent sooty session we experienced involved us casting soft plastics in a small freshwater creek north of Proserpine. We had long 4lb fluorocarbon leaders in the crystal clear flowing water tied to light TT jigheads. The plastics were being smashed by the sooty as we retrieved them back over a shallow sandy drop-off which sloped into deep water. The area we caught them was where the rapids dropped off into the deep – a perfect place for sooty to wait for insects and food drifting down in the current. We landed 12 sooty, all by hopping and slowly sinking the soft plastic.

It was a fun session and we learned how effective light line could be on fish. The combination of the fine leader and lightly weighted soft plastics was working extremely well. The largest sooty we landed was around 40cm – a chunky and great looking fish.

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