AS EXPECTED, the Melbourne Cup has been run and won at the same time as the black jewies have arrived in the river. Some good fishing has been had by those prepared to spend a few hours on the beach at Karumba Point, targeting the deep water just off the beach.
The king salmon, which are eagerly awaited every year at this time, have started to show up in the river. Some intrepid anglers have been heading down to the beach on the top of the tide at 2am and getting good kingies on live mullet. Other good fish have been taken by fishing the start of the run-in with live baits on the shallow flats. Another way to target these fish, especially in really dirty water, is by using mullet fillet instead of live mullet. I’ve seen mullet fillet out-fishing live mullet considerably in some really dirty water on the biggest tide of the set. In really filthy water the salmon may be able to find the fillet by scent more easily than locating live prey.
As usual, some good fish have been taken at night at the edge of the light cast by the numerous wharves in the Norman River. The king salmon become voracious as the bait is forced along with the strong current, and these predators are a viable target on surface lures and fly gear. The blue salmon, which failed to show during their regular visiting (and slaughter) time at the river mouth to breed, can’t even be seen crashing bait in the river at night. Where have they gone?
Up the creeks, average-sized barra of 50–70cm have been beating all other species to any lure cast anywhere as they bite their heads off in the build-up to the Wet. Even changing to tiny lures to try to target king salmon hasn’t helped.
If you’re visiting Karumba in December you can expect much of the same fishing as in November. The black jewfish will still be on the go in the river, and king salmon will be a viable target on the run-in tides on the flats and at the mouths of the creeks on the run-out. Blue salmon will follow the bait up the river every night if they arrive.
In previous years there’s been a good run of prawns in the river at this time. At the time of writing, they haven’t really showed. A legacy of a poor Wet may see them concentrated up the river more.
Crabs like to make their way into the Norman River in December. Last year the crabs made a bit of a run of it at the end of the year. If they can make it past all the east coast crabbers’ pots still in the water, there should be a couple of bucks left for a feed.
As for weather and fishing conditions, expect hot northerly winds, storms, big tides and high humidity.
What should be on your shopping list if you’re coming up to fish the Gulf after the Wet? Barra fishing gear! The following is some of the gear we used at Gulf Sportfishing Adventures this year that gave us some outstanding results. This isn’t a plug for anything, it’s just what works for us.
You have to have a decent rod to cast lures all day. The Wilson Live Fibre XX7 6kg baitcaster is one of the nicest rods around for the price. It’s not cheap, but it’s not in the price bracket of the other imported brands. Match it with Calcutta 100 or similar reel with some braid and you have a casting machine with plenty of pull.
For fishing plastics and jigs in the snags, try a Classic 6-8kg Live Fibre.
I recommend a handful of the Scorpion 120mm, four-metre lures in your tackle box. The new Mullet colour, along with the one that looks like the desert sunset colour range in the Mann’s lures, also is a great catcher. Throw in the gold and you have a lure for all occasions. The purple is also a good colour in the more brackish water.
These lures have been constant fish catchers this year. Scorpions are easy to cast and have the ability to be trolled down deep on thin braided line. They also have good strong hooks straight out of the box.
Buying leaders isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but Knotted Dog leaders have some qualities that go beyond that of normal leader material. They give that extra spring in the line that can almost act like a snatch-strap when fishing snags. They’re also a great tool for getting lures off snags without the aid of a tackle-back or similar device which can’t be used from the bank in most situations. Pulling back on the line and then letting it go quickly and releasing all pressure can actually spring the lure backwards and off the snag.
A pack of leaders costs about the same as a lure, so you only have to save a couple of lures to offset the cost of the leaders. Makes good sense (and cents) to me.
On the way to pick up a charter in late September, I noticed a large fish at Karumba Point floating like it was dead. When I returned with my clients we found a beautiful 92cm barra with a single wound to the back of its head. The fish gave a momentary flicker of life when I lifted it into the boat, and that was it. The only way it could have been injured in the fashion would be from a boat or propeller.
Having only been just killed, it wasn’t wasted by my southern counterparts. If your time is up, its up!
You know when it’s black jewfish time because the fools just fall out of the closet!
This month’s Idiot is the visitor who nailed himself a big black jew off the beach at the Karumba Point Boat Ramp. It was roughly 150cm - one foot over the legal size. Apparently this fish was unable to be revived and subsequently was taken back to the caravan park and promptly filleted. This bloke received a visit from the local Fisheries officers in quick time, but the frame had been removed and not much could be done.
The same bloke fishing the same location apparently caught another big jew when there was a crowd on hand. When asked if he was going to let it go he replied he didn’t have anything to measure it with, but believed it was just, just under the legal size. One bystander offered to measure it for him, and after he reluctantly agreed it was found to be oversize (again) and the spectator released it.
Obviously this fisherman wasn’t fazed by his visit and just believed he could flaunt the law. How much black jew can one man and his wife eat? Should it be law that a person fishing should have a measuring device in possession? It would alleviate the much-used defence: “But I thought it was over the legal size…”
Make sure if you can’t hold your rod someone else does, and see you after the Wet. Merry Christmas everyone!
1) Throw a small lure for a small fish and what do you get this time of year? Barra!
2) This poor old barra was just minding its own business when it got hit on the back of the head by a propeller.Reads: 3909