Stinking Hot, Fantastic Fishing
  |  First Published: December 2002

I RECENTLY went on a trip with Direct Star Services - a new charter service based in Townsville. They offer flights to venues such as Dunk Island for the day, Laguna Quays for a round of golf, or even out to the Undarra Lava Tubes. Best of all are the weekend trips to Sweers Island off Karumba in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Weekend, extended and even weekday trips are fully catered for in Direct Stars’ package. You get smorgasbords three times a day plus smokos if you’re not out fishing. The clean and comfortable quarters are serviced daily, and a maximum of 28 persons on the island makes for a relaxing environment. Also included is a boat fully equipped with sounder, emergency gear, basic fishing tackle, fuel and bait.

Flying from Townsville to Sweers is almost half the price of driving up to Karumba yourself and flying from there. Plus you can be on the island in three hours! In the next few months I’ll write an article on the excellent fishing my wife and I experienced up there.

Would we return? You bet!


Townsville’s weather is brilliant at this time of year – stinking hot and hopefully some thunderstorms or even a monsoonal downpour on the horizon. Up here we receive three quarters of our annual rainfall in three months, which can make for some fantastic fishing opportunities.

Barra are off limits during this time and must not be targeted. These fish are spawning and stress caused by catching them could cause them to drop their roe, resulting in future anglers missing out on a year’s worth of barra fingerlings! This can amount to millions of eggs in a single female.

One of my tips around town for this month is to cast smaller lures (around 2.5” to 3”) at sunken timber or rock bars. Don’t overlook the shallower patches on such structures, especially on a rising and falling tide, because jacks tend to hunt using ambush tactics. Oyster-covered rock bars and areas which are thick in timber and snags hold great attraction for jacks. The bait generally tries to hide on the edge of these structures, hence the ambush tactics.

Fishing tactics for jacks are quite simple: don’t give them an inch! Don’t be discouraged if you get blown away in your first few attempts; I know accomplished fishos who still regularly get busted up. But to be fair, they do also land a few! The bycatch ranges from tarpon, trevally, queenies and fingermark down to small barra and the humble bream.

Some of the proven local hot spots include the harbour rock walls, The Strand headlands, Kissing Point, Ross River mouth, The Causeway, Applins Weir and The Lakes for land-based anglers. Some of these spots really fire under the cover of darkness. For the boaties, try Crocodile, Coco and Barramundi creeks to the south and Saltwater, Crystal and Cattle creeks to the north.

When the weather allows a trip outside, small boat fisherman need look no further than the shoals that run parallel to the coast from Saunders Beach right up to just inside Orpheus Island. It’s just a matter of drifting over this ground and studying marine charts until you find fish-holding country. Live baits are great if you have them, but this area also fishes well with pillies and squid.

My final jump on the soapbox for this month is to urge Queensland fishos to make your voices heard in the multitude of new regulations we’re being bombarded with. This means filling out forms and going to meetings and rallies. Remember - this is our chance to have a say in fishing for the future!

1) Nev Harrison and Jasmine Jones with a double hookup while trolling for queenies of Sweers Island.

2) Ben Weston with a pending Australian record – a 23.5kg GT on 8kg line caught at local wreck ‘The Bomber’.

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