PEOPLE often associate the tropics with big powerful fish such as mackerel, marlin and barramundi, and for good reason. However, I believe our bread-and-butter fishing is highly underrated, and June is when they really begin to hit their straps.
Bread-and-butter species include bream, flathead, grunter, whiting, dart, sicklefish, mangrove jack and smaller trevally and queenfish. Basically, they are fish which anglers of any age, ability and budget can catch without too much effort. This is where the small tinny brigade and land-based anglers can find numerous hours of enjoyment and be in their element. The Port Douglas region is very generous in providing such opportunities.
The first requirement is a smooth outfit with a well-oiled drag system, whether it be a spinning reel or overhead reel, spooled with 4-6kg line. Leaders should range between 8 to15kg. Running sinker rigs are preferred for bait fishermen, who should carry a range of sinkers to cater for varying tides. Hook sizes can range up to 2/0 depending on what size bait you use. Long shank hooks are great for inserting baits and for releasing fish easily.
Quality peeled prawns will entice all bread and butter species. When purchased from a seafood outlet you have one deadly bait. Remember to peel the prawn as our winter species will more readily pick up a nice juicy soft bait rather than a shelled one. Keeping the prawns intact entices a lot more picking and the bait can be removed from the hook by the time they decide to wrap their chomps around it.
The next best bait is the old pilchard or strip bait of mullet. They work better on the more carnivorous type such as the mangrove jack.
Below are some recommended options for June, weather permitting. In most cases, incoming tides produce more action and also on the bottom of the low tide. Free tide chart tables are available from the local service stations, or you can tap into www.fishingportdouglas.com.au if you'd like a chart right now.
Shipwreck Wharf next to St Mary’s Church – good for bream and grunter and can produce the odd screaming trevally on the run-in tide.
Rex Smeal Park on the rocks at the Port Douglas headland – weather needs to be calm and can offer queenfish, trevally, small black-tip reef sharks and grunter.
Marina Road Wall (fishing on the marina is prohibited) – good for bream, grunter, mangrove jack, fingermark, sand bass, sicklefish, batfish and trevally.
Southern Four Mile Beach – on calm incoming tides a variety of fish may be available, including trevally, grunter, queenfish, dart, whiting, blue salmon, and flathead.
The flats opposite the harbour entrance are good for flathead, trevally and queenfish.
The string of boat pylons running up the Dickson Inlet are homage to bream, grunter, fingermark and mangrove jack.
The Dickson Inlet has deep holes on all major bends and creek junctions. You can expect to catch trevally, queenfish, grunter and fingermark.
Many of the banks along the Dickson Inlet have fallen mangrove trees and a bait dropped amongst them will definitely see bream and mangrove jack eager to take it. Fishing the dropping tide is certainly the best in this instance.
When visiting the area, remember that crocodiles inhabit our waters. Be cautious, particularly during low light periods. Please do not leave behind fish/bait scraps and discarded tackle, including plastic bags and fishing line.
Legal bag and catch limits are outlined on the tide table charts available at the local service stations. If you’d like more information, the local DPI Office is located next to the Port Douglas boat ramp, and their contact phone number is (07) 4099 5160. Remember that the Fisheries Patrol doesn’t accept ignorance as an excuse.
June marks the start of our tourist season, and the fishing approaches I’ve outlined will apply for the rest of winter. Enjoy our wonderful coastline, and remember that anyone can enjoy success with our most simple form of fishing.
1) When beach fishing, always expect the unexpected – like this surprise golden trevally.
2) Lily (a.k.a. ‘The Piscadonna’) with a little black-tip reef shark. This is just one of the species you may pick up with a basic hook, line and sinker.Reads: 1987