Big jacks get active
  |  First Published: September 2004

SEPTEMBER is a fantastic fishing month in Townsville, providing numerous options for anglers as the annual transition between winter and summer species commences. Prepare yourselves for some spectacular mangrove jack action this month as the warmer waters and extended daylight hours of spring liven up the local estuarine scene.


Recent reports indicate that the mighty mangrove jack will dominate estuarine catches this month, with quality specimens being encountered in most systems. The snag-lined banks of the Haughton River and Morrissey’s Creek should provide plenty of action for those fishing small live mullet, or – my old favourite – large split-tail mullet strips. Expect to also encounter a few late-season salmon when fishing the sandbars, and quality grunter (javelin) along the faster flowing hard bottom areas.

The rock bars at the mouth of the Bohle River should fish well on the larger tides throughout September, yielding some huge mangrove jacks if recent catches are any indication. Quality bream are in good numbers around the snags and are an easy catch on fresh prawns or live yabbies.

Ross River and Ross Creek are the places to be if you want to tangle with a seriously big mangrove jack. Regular sightings of fish in the 60cm class suggest that these brutes are getting active again (one of the many advantages of working on the river!). They have been responding well to berley, so the cunning use of soft plastics or the humble pilchard should provide the adrenalin junkie plenty of thrills.

Local charter operators also report that barramundi catches in all local systems are on the increase and will only get better as water temperature increases.


Pallarenda Beach and nearby headlands will continue to provide anglers with many early morning opportunities to catch a mixed bag of whiting, flathead, salmon, queenfish, trevally and barramundi. Flyfishermen should do particularly well at sunrise as the flat seas and gentle breezes will make the task of finding cruising fish and sight-casting to them much easier.

The rock walls surrounding the Strand, Marina and Casino should be well worth a look this month as these areas will be the first to experience the effects of rising daytime temperatures. Heat absorbed and stored in the rocks should rapidly influence activity levels of local mangrove jack and barramundi populations. Shallow diving lures (Bomber, B52, DK Eyecon, Spearheads etc.) and soft plastics worked slowly through these pockets of warmer water will prove deadly.


Grey mackerel will begin to arrive in numbers this month around local haunts such as the Paluma Shoals, Bay Rock and Burdekin Rock areas. River2Sea spoons in the red/white colour are a proven favourite among locals and are devastating when trolled at 4-6 knots. Berley and the humble old pilchard are also extremely effective for those who like to sit back and play the waiting game.

Rattlesnake, Herald and Acheron islands are the places to be if chasing tuna is on the agenda. Although a little patchy of late, large schools of mack tuna and northern blues frequent these islands, with numbers expected to increase over coming months.

Big fingermark have already made an appearance at Cape Cleveland, indicating that water temperatures are warming. My advice is to focus your attention on the shallow water areas, as this is where these beasts will be feeding until later in the season.


Salamander Reef should provide plenty of queenfish action this month for those casting metal slices or working surface poppers over the submerged bommies. Expect to also encounter Spanish mackerel along the deeper edges.

Keeper, Lodestone and Davies Reefs continue to yield reasonable coral trout, sweet lip and Spanish mackerel catches for those anglers able to get a break in the weather.

Magnetic Island and Bowling Green Bay shoals remain patchy, although some good catches of Spanish mackerel, nannygai, coral trout and cobia are still being reported. It appears that it is a case of ‘you should have been here yesterday’.

Good fishing!



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