THE WET season seems to be well and truly over, and it was disappointing for all at Karumba. Without the help of one small tropical low, which dumped a few inches of rain in one week, the outlook would be grim. Cyclone Craig promised much as it turned towards the north of Karumba last year, but delivered little more than some strong winds and three or so inches of rain. Areas further north received better falls. The temperature is dropping as I write this, and by the time you read this it will probably be cold.
The fishing over the last month has been inconsistent, with some boats returning to the boat ramp with good bags of grunter or salmon and others coming up with nothing. I’ve heard plenty of whinging, with people approaching me in the street asking where the fish have gone. I wish I knew.
The earlier months of the year have seen hardly any grunter action at Karumba, and the reason for this is unknown. Perhaps the years of slaughter when people used to fill big freezers with fish has taken their toll. Perhaps the fish will be late this year, again. There have been hoards of 35-39cm fish in the channel again this year, which is a good sign for years to come. However, it’s the old story – the people who travel north with the view of taking on a subsistence existence in a caravan park mostly reckon that ‘legal limit is good enough’ and keep all 40cm grunter. This has been the demise of many fisheries up and down the east coast as anglers adapt to eating more smaller fish rather than a few larger ones – not to mention stocking the freezers they cart up with them.
The king salmon have been an ‘on again off again’ thing. They were about in numbers off the beach before the season opened, but the numbers dwindled quickly after the nets went out up the coast just past the closure area.
When driving to Karumba from Cairns or Townsville you’ll pass through Croydon – and there are now a few thousand reasons to make a stop there. Croydon is situated in the heart of the Gulf Savannah country with grazing and tourism providing the economic platform for the shire.
Lake Belmore is situated 3km from Croydon town. Construction of the 5800 megalitre dam was completed in 1995, and it was filled for the first time in January 1998 when a tropical low dumped huge amounts of water in the creeks and gullies which run into Belmore Creek, the main feeder creek for the dam.
Lake Belmore has been stocked with thousands of barramundi fingerlings, with one release in 2002 totalling 11,700, as well as 13 very large broodstock female fish from the Gulf Barramundi Restocking Committee at Karumba. This year the fishing has really taken off, with plenty of barra over 60cm being caught by throwing lures from the bank. If this place takes off like other tropical dams such as Tinaroo, it could offer a whole new dimension to a Gulf holiday.
There are good facilities at the dam with covered playing areas for the kids, a beach, boat ramp and other covered areas with electric barbecues. No camping is permitted at the dam, but there is ample accommodation at the town hotel and also at the caravan park.
So the next time you’re passing through Croydon, think about a couple of days relaxing in the peaceful surrounds of Lake Belmore, swimming, fishing and even skiing (not recommended anywhere else in the Gulf) in Croydon.
A couple of awards this month. Runner-up goes to the clowns that were fishing along the road between Karumba and Normanton who decided their car wasn’t big enough to carry their empty cans so decided to leave them all on the road or throw them in the water. Nothing looks better then floating Carlton Mid Strength cans and Gold stubbies. The clincher was the plastic bag also floating in the water with the fish frames and a couple of stubbies as well.
Or what about the two avid fishermen fishing in the same location who just happened to leave behind an undersized (58cm) barra tethered on some heavy fishing line? Fishing late in the afternoon, it seems the plan was to return later after dark as the two were seen leaving the location and heading further down the highway right before dark. Thing is, the fish was located just after the two were seen leaving the spot.
Hope you fellas got the note that was left for you, and for your information the fish had drowned.
Until next month, keep your rod in your hand!
1) Tony Jacobs of Croydon and proof that barra are a viable target in Lake Belmore. This one was taken on a blue Slider grub which was totally inhaled.
2) One of the big brood fish released into the dam.
3) The facilities at the dam are first class.Reads: 719