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What a wet!
  |  First Published: April 2004



RAIN, rain and more rain. What a wet season! It’s been years since we’ve had such a big wet, and even as I write the rain keeps coming down. The creeks and rivers are going to be all but un-fishable for a while so now is the time to concentrate on the river mouths and inshore.

The Burnett River mouth has been producing lots of action on the high tides with queenfish, trevally and mackerel hitting both trolled lures and floating baits. The wreck on the north wall is a baitfish magnet with lots of hardiheads, sprat and even large pike which all make great live and dead baits. Drifting with a couple of livies along the north wall on the incoming tide should see some good fish taken because, due to the dirty water further upriver, there’s a concentration of predatory fish in the cleaner water. Some of the local sportfisherman have caught a few nice fish on lures – fingermark, mangrove jack and even reports of jewfish. Sinking lures like Prawnstars, lipless crankbaits and heavily rigged soft plastics jigged on the deep-water drop-off amongst the baitfish has been successful.

For the laid-back anglers there have been some great whiting on the chew, mostly in the very lower reaches on prawn and yabbies. The flats around the ferry crossing are dirty but they are still producing whiting and flathead on the incoming tides.

BAFFLE CREEK

The Baffle has a large catchment and will be running fresh for the next couple of months. This doesn’t mean it won’t be fishable, it just means timing will be more important. Watch the tides and try to fish the bigger tides and mostly on the incoming.

The mouth will still fish well, especially around the weed edges. Try to fish the weed drop-offs with either lures or fresh bait. Flathead, bream, grunter and cod hunt along those edges. The deep rock bars around the lower reaches should also produce some good fishing, and once again deepwater jigging should do the trick. Just be careful when boating in the Baffle, as there are plenty of new trees that have been washed down with the fresh. The upper reaches will still be worth a shot for jacks on the good tides but it will mean a lot of casting.

ELLIOTT RIVER

I don’t usually fish the Elliott much but this is a good system when there’s a fresh running; the river nearly empties at low tide so it cleans up very quickly. Around the mouth there are plenty of trevally and small queenfish, and the rocks near the Riverview boat ramp have been producing well. Soft plastics cast out, allowed to sink and then ripped back to the surface have had the queenfish climbing all over them. As the water clears and starts to cool down these queenies get bigger and so do the trevally.

Around the corner at Sharks Nest there have been some nice barra caught, mainly due to the local fish-stocking group continuing their stocking program of this system. Unfortunately, there have been reports of spear fisherman shooting large barra out of this hole. Although this is not illegal, these barra are the breeders and really should be left alone.

Just outside the Elliott around Dr Mays Island there have been plenty of baitfish, and this has attracted a lot of pelagics. Tuna, both macks and blues, have been getting thicker and thicker.

Further out on the Cochrane Artificial Reef the masses of bait have also attracted plenty of bottom fish, most notably snapper. There have been squire on the Arty in plaque proportions for a while but with the wild weather the larger fish have also started to show up. Livebaits are the go and it’s a good idea to collect them from the river before you get out there. Hook them through the bottom lip and fish them back on long leaders.

When you fish out here you need to remember that the fish will sit hard against the structure so you’ll need to anchor up tide and drift your baits into the strike zone. This technique has also been producing some good size sweetlip and of course some great bust-ups. There shouldn’t be too much of a change over the next couple of months, so if you’re in the area definitely give the Arty a go.

WOODGATE

On my last couple of trips to Woodgate I’ve noticed the creek has been getting alarmingly shallower. Having spent holidays here for the best part of 20 years it’s really got me worried. You generally blame some man-made obstruction for hindering the natural flow of a system and causing siltation but Theodolite Creek catchment hasn’t changed. As a kid on holidays I used to hike into the back of the creek fishing the many waterholes for barra and tarpon. I still do those hikes and the country hasn’t changed a bit – there are only a couple roads but they easily flood. I remember the large sailing boats that used to shelter inside the mouth in bad weather. Now, at low tide, you’re flat out getting your feet wet.

The creek itself remains pretty much the same, it’s only the mouth that has changed so dramatically, especially the width. There are picnic tables just off the road as you drive in, and these tables 10 years ago were a least a kilometre further north. It does trouble me, because as Woodgate’s population and popularity explodes so does the angling pressure put on this already struggling small system.

On a brighter note, the flats out front of the creek have been producing some good whiting and flathead and the small reefs just a bit further north have had some good sweetlip on them.

FRESHWATER

It feels a bit silly writing about our freshwater fishery when at the moment it’s all running chocolate brown, but it will clear up eventually. The Isis impoundment has been very dirty and I have struggled to crack any pattern on the fish lately, although my wife did kick my butt with nice bass taken on a pink StumpJumper. The lake should settle down and, with the influx of cooler water, should see the bass get back on the job. Even though it’s dirty there have been a lot of baitfish and shrimp spawning so as it clears small Betts Spins, Whizbaggers and the small AusSpin spinnerbaits worked around the edges will start to work again.

Monduran Dam has been getting regular rain and keeps rising, which just is great but is making finding the barra pretty hard. I spoke to Brett Jones from Stillwater Fishing charters recently and he said he’s been getting a few here and there and has also been getting plenty of bass, some of which are getting up to 44cm. I have fished the dam only a few times recently but I’m amazed at how popular it has become – there are always a dozen trailers at the ramp I use. John and Jackie Fox are the managers of the park there and have done a great job getting it up and running. John stocks all the latest barra and bass lures that are working so drop in and ask him where the fish are biting. There are now great cabins that look over the lake and the view is sensational.

On a recent trip to Lenthalls Dam I had a chat to a local who was having a bit of a cooling dip, and he said when the dam was overflowing recently they found a few barramundi floating below the wall. He said they were around the 60cm mark and looked like they didn’t survive the ride down the spillway. The fish that did survive the ride would have kept going past the next two weirs and down into the Burrum River, so when things start to clear up it might be a good idea to go barra fishing in the Burrum.

Well, we can all look forward to some great fishing thanks to an overdue wet season which will hopefully get a great bream season happening for the upcoming ABT BREAM event in the Burnett River.

1) Tuna, both macks and blues, have been getting thicker and thicker lately.

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