MARCH marks the onset of incredible fishing opportunities and diversity in Townsville. Hot on the tail of the monsoon rains, anglers will find the gradual transition between summer and winter species over the next couple of months an exciting and rewarding experience.
The opening of the 2004 barra season was once again a well attended event, with nearly every Townsvillian who owns a fishing rod joining the long-awaited barra chase. To the surprise of many, regular season openers such as the Bohle and Haughton Rivers failed to live up to expectations with only a few anglers being rewarded with a couple of just-legals. However, since then we’ve had considerable rain so things are sure to liven up as floodwaters subside.
Recent reports suggest that Crocodile Creek and the Ross River are the places to be if you want to join the action. Live prawns and live mullet fished predominantly on the rising tide have found good numbers of quality barra willing to play the game. Large grunter or javelin are also being regularly encountered in these systems and are suckers for fresh prawns.
Mangrove jack, fingermark, bream and salmon will all be worthy targets as we move into March and will provide plenty of action between barras. If you’re one of those who don’t mind the occasional crustacean feast, be sure to take your cast net and crab pots for the ride. Top quality crabs are in good numbers along most of the local coastline, with the entrances to Cleveland Bay creeks performing exceptionally well following the rains. Large prawns are everywhere, with Ross River and Ross Creek yielding both quality and quantity for those putting in the effort. If it rains, go prawning.
As predicted, the first reported barra for 2004 in Townsville came from the freshwater weirs within a few minutes of the season opening. With fish to 1.15m in good numbers, there’s no doubt that if you want to consistently catch big barra, this is the place to be. Aplins, Gleeson and Black weirs all fish best early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Simply take your rod with you to work, stopping off to cast a few lures on the way. Reports suggest that a combination of brightly coloured surface lures and soft plastics are producing the best results while water levels are up and the river is flowing over the weirs.
The inshore scene continues to fish well despite the rain, with the month of March sure to produce some of the season’s best fingermark. Those who manage to beat the evening thunderstorms will find Cape Cleveland, West Point and the northern inshore shoals likely producers in the lead-up to the new moon. Live squid and trolled deep divers, such as the RMG Scorpion in the extra deep 8m+, have been the secret combination to search out these thugs on the shoals.
Nannygai to 7kg and coral trout to 3kg continue to dominate the inshore island scene with Magnetic Island and Rattlesnake Island being the two best locations. School mackerel and cobia can also be expected as the water clears and the bait schools return to the shipping channel.
Big things are anticipated out wide this year based on the size of bait schools already established in Bowling Green Bay. Although punters are convinced that these schools are being accompanied by aggregations of small black marlin and sailfish, the sheer numbers of tuna and cobia have made it nearly impossible for anglers to get baits or lures to their targets. Due to the constant rain and storms, offshore reports are somewhat patchy and hopefully conditions should improve as we move into March.