Things are looking up
  |  First Published: February 2004

AS OF the beginning of January the local wet situation has been a bit better than the two previous years around Karumba. There has been an increased activity of local storms and real old-fashioned wet season type showers. The type that just appear out of nowhere when the atmosphere has hit dewpoint and just pound down 5-10mm of rain in five minutes. With the monsoon trough appearing to be active early in the piece and with a couple of cyclones under its belt all looks better at least than last year.

What’s been happening

With the lack of a big rain so far the fishing has been reasonable. On the smaller tides there have been a few grunter out in the channel on the smaller tides. As usual they disappear as soon as the bigger tides arrive and dirty up the water. And talk about big tides – over the Christmas period we had tides well over 5m thanks to our spring tides, with an extra half a metre courtesy of that low that drifted away and formed into cyclone Debbie in the NT.

There have been a few nice king salmon being caught on the beach on the run-in tide, and live mullet have been necessary as bait. A few prawns have been around the place but have been quite small and at the size where the majority slip out the cast net.


February sees the very start of the pelagic run at Karumba. Depending on the extent of the wet season, queenfish turn up around the Sand Island and begin to circle the current lines and eddies and smash baitfish, making them a target for lure- and flyfishers. A couple of years ago it was possible to stand on the sand island and cast the fly rod off the beach. Good fun.

Trolling lures covers a greater area and can also produce good results. Try trolling a Gold Bomber and a popper. Keep a watch on the popper and don’t think it has to be a hundred miles away; 10m behind the boat is far enough.

King salmon are also prevalent this time of year but expect the numbers to decline once all the foreshore set nets go in up the coast. Live mullet work the best on king salmon but if the water is dirty don’t be afraid to try a fresh strip of mullet. King salmon use all those sensory organs to locate food and the next time a mullet fillet outfishes a live mullet in the soup won’t be the last.


After the tragedy in the Northern Territory at the Finnes River it seems timely to remind everyone of the threat of crocodiles in and around all Gulf Waterways. Those three lads that were near the water in the Northern Territory obviously thought they were safe enough to go near or enter the water. Apparently no large saltwater crocodiles had ever been seen that far up the Finnes River. Well, nobody told the crocodile.

This time of the year is breeding season and crocodiles are on the move, all fired up and aggressive. Females are protecting the nest and the larger males are protecting the harem. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t see any sign of crocodiles, be very cautious. I have seen some incredibly stupid things done by visitors to Karumba over the years as far a crocodile safety is concerned, and believe me – there are plenty of crocs up here. They don’t like boats and will disappear before you see them, but during the mating season anything invading their territory is fair game, and these blokes play for keeps. They spend their entire lives learning to be cunning.

The tragedy in the Territory saw not only a young man taken forever but also his mates traumatised and a public outcry for more culling. A beautiful creature that has seen out the dinosaurs also had to die. All unnecessary.

Until next month, see you after the wet.

1) Be croc smart around Gulf Waters. They deserve our respect.

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