Pelagics fire in the Gulf
  |  First Published: April 2005

The wet season has fizzled out, despite a promising start. Weipa has also been very dry with the road to Cairns still open for the first time in a long time. At least the road to Karumba was cut for a little while; perhaps the rain will be late in coming.

What’s been happening?

There has been a bit of a fresh in the river and this has meant that the fishing is starting to improve. There have been some barra around on the small tides but not in any great numbers. I heard a disappointing story of someone carrying a barra over his shoulder from the beach at Karumba, gloating that it was 126cm.

There must have been a few grunters in the channel - on a recent trolling session, a group of tinnies could be seen bunched up at the yellow marker in the channel.

There have been reports of a few black jew around the channel as well. Remember that the size limits in the Gulf of Carpentaria are different to those on the East Coast and the fact that you have a sticker in your boat from Townsville isn’t a legal defence for taking an undersized fish.

Big fingermark have also been around the place as is usual at this time of year. These fish like offshore waters where there is reasonably deep water with reef or rock. Headlands are a good place to start looking on the East Coast. At the bottom of the Gulf here in Karumba, the fingermark will congregate over anything that is not mud. If you can find any bit of gravel bottom offshore, it will be a good start. There might also be a few grunter at this type of location. Jigging with soft plastics is a good idea and a deep sinking shooting head and nice bulky fly will also do the job when circumstances allow.

The pelagics are out and about, with plenty of action on the surface for those who fish for something else than a feed (not that there is anything wrong with a bit of queenfish nummus). The queenfish have not been big but the other day saw them in numbers offshore that was enough to spark a nice little popper session with the expected carnage and excitement. The next day at the same spot the big GTs had moved in on the act. We all got a couple and that should do it for the year while we wait for our arms to shrink back to their normal length. There is something about a bunch of big, wild, competing GTs circling around the back of the boat – it’s almost scary.

New Rod from Wilson and Co

Once they are attracted to your boat, either by a hooked fish or berley, all of the fish just mentioned can then be caught by jigging some form of soft plastic lures. The giant trevally that were assaulting us recently were suckers for those massive soft plastics, about 6” long, made by Storm Lures. Most of the time they were hit on the drop.

The kind folk at L.Wilson and Co who make Live Fibre rods kindly made me up a 4-8kg Texalium rod to use with a threadline reel when jigging Prawnstar lures for barra in and around the snags. Well, let me tell you that I have found a new pastime for this beautiful rod. I have discovered that it is also a great tool for battling big fingermark and GTs on the outside stuff. While only rated at 4–8kg, the rod repeatedly man-handled the big GTs to the anchored boat in ten minutes. I must admit that I really gave it to the fish and have the sore shoulders to prove it, but it was a great acid test for the Texaliums. For the record, the reel was a Daiwa Laguna 3000 with 30lb Live Fibre Braid. Nothing sounds quite like braid leaving a threadline and exiting over quality guides.

Idiot of the month

I witnessed a visiting angler the other day catch a catfish and then take it off the hook by holding it with a pair of pliers. I was at the point of congratulating this individual for his skill when he proceeded to run a knife through the stomach cavity of the fish before releasing it to suffer a painful and cruel death. When questioned in relation to his actions, he stated that his actions did not hurt me at all. What a champion.

Until next month, safe fishing.

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