North-westers, beer and Xmas turkey
  |  First Published: December 2003

YEP, that’s about it for Karumba in the month of December. Throw in the chance of a cyclone or an early wet and it’s a real barrel of monkeys. This is a time that we all look forward to – those cracking big afternoon thunderstorms with thunderheads that tower into the sky, with lightning shows that make it worthwhile getting up at 2am to watch. We haven’t had a decent wet here at Karumba since 1998, so let’s hope for everyone’s sake.


Some good fishing has been had lately, not only from those using boats but also those prepared to spend a few hours on the beach at Karumba Point targeting jewfish and salmon in the deep water just off the beach. Sitting on the beach at night fishing is a very relaxing way to spend a few hours. Throw in the chance of a nice black jew and the argument is over. With so much reality television (read: crap television) flooding our screens it’s nice to get out and get some real, unedited reality.

The king salmon which are eagerly awaited every year at this time, not only as a sportfish but also as a good feed, have started to show up in the river. Some good fish have been taken by fishing the start of the run-in with live baits on the shallow flats areas. Another way to target these fish, especially in really dirty water, is by using mullet fillet instead of live mullet. The oily consistency of mullet makes it great bait for dirty water.

Some good fish have also been taken at night fishing the edge of the light cast by the numerous wharves in the Norman River. The king salmon and blue salmon become voracious as the bait is forced along with the strong current and are a viable target on surface lures and also fly gear. Hooking a big threadfin or blue salmon on an 8wt in strong current is great fun. Big barra also hunt the edge of the light as the tide strength drops a little.

Another bonus has arrived in the form of big grunter at the mouth of the river. With the number of boats down to a bare minimum it is hoped that the big grunter will have a chance to breed. They haven’t really showed during winter the last couple of years, and that’s a good thing with the vultures perched in the trees awaiting their arrival, freezers at the ready.


If you’re visiting Karumba in December you can probably expect the same as last month. Black jewfish will be taken on the smaller tides and on the bottom of the springs using live or fresh fish. Watch out for the noon thunderstorms up the river, and if the lightning starts cracking put down the rods.

King salmon will also be on the list of things to do. Big kingies on light gear are great fun and certainly fill the barra void. Big blue salmon pull even harder but need some heavier leader material.

Fingermark also tend to make a showing up the creeks at this time of year. From previous years we’ve found that they can get a fair way up the creeks – far enough to compete with the barra in the smaller creeks for a well-presented lure. Along with the spotties, estuary cod also love to smash lures any time. The next time they’re mistaken for a barra when a lure is taken forever won’t be the last.


Now is the time to bite the bullet (or the missus) and get a quality rod and reel for the big trip next year. It pains me that people spend thousands of dollars to get to a fishing destination and then pull out the old favourite with the mono line it was bought with a hundred years ago. This year, especially with all the big vulnerable barra being targeted by the masses, there were stories of being broken off. The only reason a barra would break any line in open water with no obstructions is because of old, damaged or weakened line or if the drag on a real wasn’t smooth and made the line jerk off the reel. Wake up and smell the drag washers!

Merry Christmas and Happy Cold Beers. See you after the wet!

1) King salmon make a return to the hit list this month and can be taken on lures or baits.

2) Big barra can be taken on light gear as long as it’s of good quality and you take your time.

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