Northern systems on track
  |  First Published: May 2004

FAR Northern Queensland has been truly put on track for the rest of the year, water-wise. As I write this article the coastal river systems are receiving much-needed floods, which are cleaning out the weed and growth while shifting the sandbars that were virtually closing the river mouths.

The onset of early south-easterly winds should see an early mackerel season for us, and if the freshwater influences ease up on the close of the offshore islands those 6-8 kg winter fish will show up at the start of May.

Queenfish are another target species likely to arrive in May, though their presence inside the rivers also depends on salinity levels. If the rain lingers further into June, the fish won’t appear until later. That happened in the year 2000, with its long and heavy wet.

The Russell/Mulgrave systems have fished particularly well these past months, with the usual drains producing some nice barra – very dark in colour and mostly around the 75cm mark – coming off the usual colour changes at the mouths of cane drains and swamps.

May should see some fine, calm weather around the islands before the true onset of the south-east trade winds. The calm conditions at night around the new moon will see a few fishers out chasing fingermark on the offshore headlands. One spot, Palmers Point, will just come online for May/June before it is closed on July 1 as a green zone. This is a great loss, as many small boaties can easily access these rocks from Russell Heads.

Hopefully the authorities will have all the appropriate maps available to the public by July 1. It concerns me that there won't be enough maps made public or not printed in time. I also wonder why there isn't a public education program in place now, well before the event, to create a smooth changeover instead of the confusion that’s going to ensue.


Tinaroo is now only 1m below the wall and is looking superb for the year. Some great fishing will be had in September again this year when the lake awakens from the Tableland winter, but for now the waterskiers are taking full advantage of its flooded grass banks, with no mud between the toes.


I'm predicting a bumper mackerel season with early cold water around the islands for May. If it's windy, queenfish are a great option in the rivers. You can also chase wolf herring around the river mouths trolling Japanese bait jigs to stock up on mackerel bait, or go bush for a few days. Lakefield has had a huge flush and will open up in stages throughout May.

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