Salmon and grunter still about
  |  First Published: July 2003

THE FISHING in Karumba has been patchy over the last month, with the weather being either really good or really bad. The grunter have been ‘on again off again’. There appear to be plenty of small grunter of around 35–38cms, which is just under the legal size limit. The big fellas are just not a viable option day after day. Just when they seem to be schooling up in the Norman River Channel they disappear just as quick.

The blue salmon have been firing on the early run-in tides and the start of the run-out. Successful places have been in front of the oaks over towards the Bynoe River and over near the mouth of the Bynoe River. These spots are both protected from the big south-easterlies and are accessible on the higher tides, which occur in the mornings at this time of year.

It is still possible to find big queenfish around the Sandbar, and these can be targeted by trolling the good old Gold Bomber or B52 over the top of the bars on the run in tide. The queenfish disappear at the top of the tide but seem to re-appear on the run-out at the other end of the Sandbar. Big Spanish mackerel have also been around in fair numbers, and the average size has also been very good, with fish over 20kg common.

The big fingermark that were around from March to May have all but disappeared. However, they can still be found in patches out wide and a good session was had on a recent charter trip to a northern estuary where the fingermark were taking squid baits and then soft plastics with gusto.


For the month of July in this neck of the woods you can expect to find a few blue salmon poking around the flats on the high tide. If a school of grunter feels like committing suicide, they too will be on the hit list of many of the visiting anglers.

Expect some strong south-easterly blows that last for four or five days during July, and in between these there should be some great windless afternoons. You can also expect a multitude of 12-foot tinnies on the water at the mouth of the river during these times.

Fishing Pressure heavier than ever

It seems that the fishing pressure at Karumba gets more and more intense every year, with more and more tourists making a stopover in Karumba for a variety of reasons. As the fish numbers at Karumba dwindle, the kill-and-grill crowd come up with better excuses than last year for the lack of fish. The wind, the mine, the commercial fishermen. Thank god for bag limits! If the fish do come on at any stage, we’ll need those limits.

Commercial pressure, all of a sudden, appears to be more intense. From all reports the pros are having a lean year due to the lack of wet season (apparently) and it’s showing with some vessels that normally would fish over to the west seen north of Karumba with more intense netting effort.

On a trip from Karumba to Van Diemans the other day (30 nautical miles) I saw a commercial operator in every major river or creek. Some creeks had two, and one netting the flats either side of the mouth. One commercial operator at the Smithburne (who has multiple licences) virtually had nets all around Pelican Island. Throw in the hundreds of crab pots from both Gulf Operators and East Coast operators (who for some reason are still allowed to crab here), and the pressure looks intense. How can any fish migrate up or down the coast or move across the flats when each operator has up to 600 metres of net in its path?

The government told me that there would be no consideration given to closing any of the Southern Gulf Rivers to commercial fishing, even the top end of the Norman, as that would mean that fishing pressure would be transferred onto other systems. That theory must not apply to the Great Barrier Reef where the closure of up to 30 percent of the reef would surely see the other 70 percent under far more pressure. It looks as though closures must only be applicable to areas of most voters.

Idiots of the month

The July Idiots Of The Month award goes to the campers that decided to camp on the sand spit of a beautiful little inlet, which is frequented by fisherman heading north of Karumba, and leave all their rubbish behind.

It was obvious to even the most basic human brain that camping on the spit would be dicey if a big tide was expected, and on the morning I saw them leaving and returning to Karumba was a large tide. Not enough of an excuse for leaving an empty 44-gallon drum (they had stolen this from another camp), plastic, cans and a heap of used fireworks for the tide to carry away. Perhaps they were friendly with some pixies or elves that were coming later to clean up after them.

And would you believe that when I got back to the inlet the next day and went to move the drum and clean up the remaining mess, I found that someone else had put some more rubbish in the bin?

Until next month, keep your rod in your hand.

[INSET] The rubbish left by this month’s winning Idiots.

1) The same beach and what it was meant for.

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