Mackerel on the move
  |  First Published: August 2005

Barraholics are going to be the big losers this month as temperatures begin to drop to ‘normal’ August levels. This will see salmon schools move well up into estuaries to feed on the abundant schools of prawns found in most systems. Anglers can make the most of this occurrence by cast netting the mouths of the more prominent gutters to fill bait tanks before heading to their chosen spot.

Try to find some structure that will hold salmon in your general area. This could be in the form of a snag, hole, rock bar or even the very gutter that you extracted your prawns from. If the bait is in one area, the fish won’t be far behind.

I find a dropper or paternoster rig the most effective option when using prawn in the winter months because it keeps your bait up off the bottom and allows it to be easily seen by predators.

Don’t be afraid of using big baits this month as black jew will also move into the creeks and take up residence in the main holes. Fresh mullet fillets of around 8 inches in length, fished on a running rig around the edges of these holes should give you a fair shot at a trophy fish.

The pick of destinations for creek-bound fishos in the area will be Crocodile, Coco, Crystal and Barramundi creeks. The Haughton and Bohle rivers should also be worth a try on a making tide.

The beaches around Townsville will still hold good numbers of whiting and flathead right through this month. Fish the incoming tide over any yabby beds you can find; they will be easily recognisable by the small holes left in the sand on a falling tide.

If bread and butter fishing isn’t your thing, then maybe chasing grunter or javelin fish will spark some interest? Peeled prawns, strips of squid and mullet are all going to be worth a try. Cungulla and Alva beaches to the south of Townsville have better catch rates than some other areas, while to the north, Bushland, Balgal and Toolakea beaches are top fishing spots that can be easily accessed.

Offshore anglers have been treated to a piscatorial paradise with large schools of Spanish mackerel, northern blue fin and mack tuna found quite regularly carving up bait schools early in the day. As these schools sound after feeding, most thinking fishers have found deep trolling with baits or lures has helped to continue the bite.

Meanwhile, demersal species such as red emperor, large mouth nannygai and sweet lip can be found under these schools feeding on the scraps that fall to the bottom.

We should start to see the presence of extra large Spaniards following the yakka schools up the coast on their annual pilgrimage to spawn. Baits of wolf herring and legal doggy mackerel fished alive or trolled dead will account for most of the captures, as is always the case at this time of the year.

Speaking of our more common inshore (doggy) mackerel, the weedbeds outside Alligator creek have again turned it on for the tinnie brigade with most groups catching their fill before lunch. This should continue throughout August and hopefully the spotted mackerel will appear in bigger numbers. The largest reported catch of spotted mackerel this season was by Wayne Dippel, who snared a 7.5kg fish on a trolled lure. While they lack numbers no one can argue with quality like that!

For those readers who would like to get away from the crowds at the weedbeds, why not try West Point or Bay Rock on the western side of Magnetic Island? Look for bait schools or rubble bottom, anchor and berley up. The beauty of this area is that you are outside the yellow zone restrictions placed on anglers by GBRMPA. You can therefore use more than one line each, which allows you to have float lines in the berley trail and baits on the bottom while you flick a metal slice or spoon. What a great way to spend a morning!

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