February in the Gulf is a good time for fishing, particularly for barramundi.
Midday on February makes the start of the barra open season, after what has seemed to be an extremely long closed season! The wet should be in full swing, hopefully bringing us some great run-off fishing.
While you read this we are all on the river, fishing the water that’s flooding the flats and wetlands around the place where it drains from feeder creeks. This water pumps much-needed extra food into the river. All the tiny fish and crustaceans that are being channelled in provide the main ingredients for the barra soup that brings hot fishing action.
So far, the wet season situation around Karumba has been a bit better than the last four or five years. In the 2003-2004 wet season the road never even got cut between Karumba and Normanton, which brought an early wave of tourists chasing barra. It will be interesting to see what this early rain will turn into.
Our nice little bit of a wet start has seen the floodplains burst into life, with plenty of bird life flocking to the place. The Flinders and Cloncurry rivers are running and Walkers Creek is not far under the bridge. All we need is a few inches in the paddocks in one go and the floodwaters will come.
Normally late February and early March provides a real mixed bag at Karumba.
At this time of year the queenfish show up around the Sand Island and begin to hunt baitfish, making them a target for all sorts of imitations. When the queenies get fired up and in a pack they become super-aggressive and will take most offerings. Gold Bombers and B-52s are a good start, but ripping poppers such as Fat Rs across in front of a school has the most appeal to sportfishers. Trolling lures will produce the same type of results while covering a greater area, so this is a good plan if it’s a bit quiet. Other large pelagics such as cobia and monstrous GTs also call in at this time of year.
Fingermark should also be making an appearance, hitting lures meant for barra or king salmon. Locations like the end of the channel at the Fairway buoy, and any other area offshore with a bit of broken bottom, are the places to fish baits like squid and mullet fillets. If you’re lucky enough to find a school, try dropping down a jig for a bit of fun.
King salmon are also common at this time of year, but expect the numbers to reduce dramatically once all the foreshore set nets go in up the coast. Live mullet and live prawns, if you can get them, work the best on king salmon, but if the water is dirty don’t be afraid to try a fresh strip of mullet. There must be something about the oily flesh that works a treat. King salmon use all those sensory organs to locate food, and the next time a mullet fillet out-fishes a live mullet in the soup won’t be the last. Unfortunately, catties love mullet fillets as well, so be kind to the uglies of the ocean and release them alive.
Crabs are also worth a try but their quality can be a bit dodgy at this time of year. Check them carefully as there are plenty of empties in their midst.
Nearly all of our idiots have returned to their villages for the festive season, so I haven’t been able to detect an idiot in action this month. I couldn’t find anyone killing catfish or sharks for no reason, throwing rubbish in the water or being disrespectful towards the environment or of other people trying to enjoy it correctly. Admittedly, I was on holidays down south for the majority of the month and saw plenty of idiots in their home environments.
Catch you after the wet.
1) Barra feeding on a floodplain drain eating all sorts of prawns.
2) King salmon should be on the February hit list.Reads: 929