Grey mack attack
  |  First Published: November 2003

THE RECENT arrival of prolific bait schools and rising water temperatures has opened up a multitude of options for anglers hitting the water in November. With a favourable change in weather conditions expected, anglers should get prepared for some of the best fishing the region has to offer in the lead-up to a much-needed wet season.


The grey mackerel have arrived in good numbers, with the Northern Beach shoals and Burdekin Rock and Bay Rock areas a sure thing at present. Fish between 4-8kg are readily taking trolled lures, and those anglers wishing to cast will find Bumpa Bar lures in the 35g range deadly.

Large bait schools around Rattlesnake and Palm Islands are bringing with them a feeding frenzy of longtail tuna, mack tuna, Spanish mackerel, grey mackerel, cobia and queenfish. High-speed ‘metal heads’, myself included, are having an absolute ball casting metal slices and high-speed poopers through these frenzied bait schools. If you’ve never worked bait schools with high-speed lures before, now is the time.


Large Spanish mackerel to 25kg have kept anglers fishing Southern Palm Island on their toes. Large fusiliers fished live and deep have been the secret weapon for those fishing Albino Rock.

Magnetic Island shoals continue to produce patchy catches of nannygai and red emperor, but lack consistency.


Anglers fishing the rocky breakwalls around Townsville in recent weeks have experienced almost instant success following dramatic temperature rises, with barra to 80cm being a regular capture along the strand and entrance to the Marina. Fishing large live prawns early in the morning or late in the afternoon on a rising tide has been the most successful method. Just remember that from noon on November 1 anglers are not permitted to target or take any barra until the season opens again in February.

Those looking for some exercise will find the Pallarenda headlands and Casino breakwalls worth the walk. Reports of quality mangrove jack and queenfish have been consistent in recent weeks and should continue into November. Shallow diving lures worked along the rocky edges and over sunken rocks and bommies have produced excellent results, as have unweighted live baits of gar, mullet and greenback herring. Be sure to take along some light wire traces just in case the razor gang puts in an appearance. It’s common at this time of year to encounter thumper grey mackerel cruising the shallows in search of an easy meal.


The transition between winter and summer species should almost be finished, but don’t be shocked if you stumble across some super-sized threadfin salmon, particularly in the Haughton River system. These mighty fish, in the 8-10kg range, seem to straggle behind and are often encountered at this time of year when fishing the making tides a few days before the new and full moons.

Fingermark and mangrove jacks are also making their presence known in most of the northern and southern estuaries. Systems such as the Haughton River, Morrissey’s Creek, Cattle Creek, and Crystal Creek are all fishing very well at present and should only get better as the weather gets hotter.

Good fishing and I’ll see you next month.

1) The author with a 6.5kg grey mackerel taken from bait schools around Rattlesnake Island.

2) Daniel Venema with a blue-spot trevally caught near Cordelia Rock. These fish are great sport on light tackle.

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