Bluey breeding run
  |  First Published: July 2004

THE FISHING around Karumba has been ‘on again, off again’ over the last month; the angling opportunities have been dictated by the weather, particularly the wind. The end of May and the start of June gave us our first taste of winter with some solid southeasterlies, thanks to a high pressure system dominating the weather.

The grunter fishing in and around the river channel has been hot and cold. Just when they seem to be schooling up in the Norman River Channel they disappear just as quickly.

The blue salmon have been firing on the early run-in tides and the start of the run-out. The best places have been The Oaks and over near the mouth of the Bynoe River. These spots are protected from the big southeasterlies and are accessible on the higher tides.

There are still a few big queenfish around the Sandbar and you can find them 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 when the run dies but then re-appear on the run-out at the other end of the Sandbar. Spanish mackerel have also been around in good numbers but there needs to be a bit of run for the macks to be in a hunting mood.

The big fingermark have all but disappeared. They can be found in patches out wide though, and are occasionally caught on livebaits up the creeks farther to the north of Karumba.


Over the next month the southeasterly winds will get a real toe-hold and should become the dominant weather pattern for the next couple of months. When the winter pattern settles in the winds become more predictable, with moderate to fresh in the morning and dropping out in the afternoon, sometimes with a sea breeze. These are the types of conditions that have been bringing tourists to the area for so many years. Get a big high in the Bight and a low in the Tasman to block it and things can go pear-shaped, for a little while at least.

Blue salmon will be turning up in numbers over the next couple of months for the annual breeding run. This coincides with the arrival of the bulk of the tourists, who fish the salmon very heavily. When the big blueys are on the go they will eat anything dished up anyhow, sp please take only enough for a feed as the future of stocks lies in the ability to breed. Big blue salmon put up a great fight and they taste good fresh, but they freeze like tailor. After a stint in the freezer, salmon is fit only for cat food – an inglorious end to a good sportfish.

I don’t predict anything with grunter these days as I believe they are in all sorts of trouble. If you are lucky enough to be in the right spot when a school of big grunter come on, we all plead with you to exercise self-control and not keep catching just because you can. That practice is why the grunter are nowhere near as numerous as they used to be around Karumba.

Spanish mackerel will be full-on this month. Catching a big mackerel is a thrill a minute, especially when they can be half as long as your boat. A cool hand is required throughout the battle. In the initial stages it’s important to remember that they will run for a long time straight up, and this is nearly always the one and only big, long run. If your gear is good to go and can whether the initial storm, the rest is simple. Most of the time the biggest hurdle is staying out the way of the choppers when the fish is put in the boat. It is at this stage, use a fish pacifier to quickly put the big Spaniard out of its misery and to minimise any injuries from those formidable teeth. I have seen photos of injuries sustained by commercial mackerel fishermen. Those teeth can inflict serious wounds and stitches are a certainty.

Barra are still on the target list until the first real cold snap. On a recent trip on a nice warm day after a cool morning the fish weren’t active straight away. However, it wasn’t long before some well-placed casts with those fish-tricking demons, the Prawnstars, caused the action to warm right up. If a lure swims past a fish by a metre after the water temp has dropped, that fish may have a strike. If a prawn glides towards a barra and hits the bottom in front of it and then clicks away and drifts back again, that barra will eat that prawn. It has been proven on snags when conventional lures failed to make a dent and then the Prawnstar did the trick. To try for a barra here at this time of year without a Prawn is madness.


I recently attended a course in Brisbane which re-enforced how important safety gear is in a survival situation. Having experienced firsthand what is involved in co-ordinating and conducting search and rescue operations, I can tell you that it’s much easier to find a missing vessel if someone knew where they were going, or they had made a radio distress message when they got into trouble or had activated an EPIRB when they were in distress. To locate and rescue people with the help of the above is infinitely easier than receiving a phone call that Fisherman Fred hasn’t returned home and nobody knows where he went and he doesn’t have a radio or an EPIRB. Fisherman Fred is in a world of hurt if he is not in a position to ‘self help’.

This situation is compounded in a place like the Gulf where there isn’t a Coast Guard or other rescue service around every headland or several rescue choppers at the disposal of the Search and Rescue Coordinator. Out here you must help yourselves to some degree, and the best place to do that is at the shop before you come. The simple rules are:

• Carry all the appropriate safety gear and keep it in good condition;

• Carry an EPIRB;

• Tell someone where you are going. If you have no one to tell, leave a note in your car. Something is better than nothing; and

• Improve your chances of not having to be rescued by not taking risks. Nobody will care if you have taken all the precautions and an accident occurs.

Until next month.

1) Good barra are still a possibility in the cooler months with the right approach.

2) This nice big bluey was returned to the water to breed.

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