The tropical region has received a good supply of rain, which is good news for the fishery.
The barramundi is one species that depends on the rain for breeding purposes. Now that we’ve had some welcome rain, and now that there’s less pressure from commercial netters in the area, we’ll hopefully get some great barra catches when the season opens on February 1.
Many barra have been caught in recent months by anglers in pursuit of fingermark or mangrove jack in the creeks or rivers. Barra catches have also been quite common along the beaches by anglers targeting queenfish, blue salmon, tarpon or trevally. I’ve spent a lot of time recently along our beaches and have noticed that since the rains the barra are quite prepared to feed along the stretches of foreshore in search of food. Before the rains they just sat at the mouth of an incoming small creek.
Another interesting point is that the barra haven’t been going quiet in the middle of the day. Rather, the opposite is true. When the sun is high and the water clarity is very clear, they have succumbed to the temptation of small poppers, darkened soft plastic lures and small hard-bodied shallow diving lures such Lead’s Lures.
The fish have been active during low light periods as well, but don’t disregard the possibility of nailing one during the lunch time period. Look for the dark patches of weed which float around on the bottom of the white sand. Concentrate your efforts here as the barra like to hang in clumps of three or four per patch.
Other species which have really come on the bite since the festive period have been tarpon and some monster queenfish along the foreshore. I was meddling with a school of 1-2kg tarpon, catching them on fly, when out of the deep blue came a scorching 1m-plus queenfish and nailed one of the tarpon just a few feet in front of me. It was extraordinary to watch and the commotion left behind a bubbling froth in front of me and made me wonder what if!
Since the rains we have had a good run of jelly prawns along the beaches and this will encourage other species such as blue salmon, trevally and swarms of smaller queenfish to take advantage. These species are definitely best targeted on the early morning rising tides. They become active as soon as there is the slightest hint of light. As soon as the sun is high they disappear, unless the morning remains overcast. On cloudy, low-light days they can be active to mid-morning.
Inside the rivers and creeks we have seen a consistent run of mangrove jack and fingermark in recent times. The jacks don’t mind the freshwater and many catches have registered over 45cm. Most fingermark have been around 40-50cm, which is a quality size.
During this wetter period don’t be afraid to use dead baits. The trick is to obtain quality dead baits; we’ve been using fresh dead mud herring and mullet to great effect. You can slice them up on one side or leave them whole, which will attract the attention of only the quality fish. The most productive locations for these two species have been the inside of the mouths of each major system where there is a concentration of saltwater.
Reef catches has been spasmodic lately, which is to be expected during the warmer months. Depending on who you’ve been talking to, the activity has been dead quiet ranging up to reasonable. The better catches have consisted of 20kg cobia, the odd big 7kg-plus nannygai, tea-leaf trevally or mainly coral trout catches. Much can be expected for February, however you never know your luck on the Great Barrier Reef.
The gamefishing season is now coming to a close, but operators are still experiencing a lot of success on yellowfin tuna, dolphinfish and Spanish mackerel out wider, in locations such as the Linden Bank and east of Opal Ridge. There has been even the odd encounter with sailfish inside the reefs, which has definitely added some sting to the charters. February is notorious for heavy rain and howling winds, but if the weather lets up the pelagic action may continue throughout the month.
1) My visiting brother Hayes from Melbourne, caught and released this perfect saltwater barra off Four Mile Beach recently.Reads: 552