Every year one species or another has a bumper season, and this year it’s the blue salmon’s turn.
Right across the latter part of winter and now well into the end of the year, blues have shown in most creeks, The Fitzroy River, Rosslyn Bay and the beaches heading up to Corio Bay. Usually by now they start to slacken but, just like the king salmon of last year, they don’t want to go away. We are getting runs of them in the regular spots, though picking the right place at the best time can be a bit hit-and-miss. The blokes that have old records of the salmon movements are saying they have caught a few salmon coming into December in previous years, but never in this quantity.
Blue salmon can be brilliant fighters on light tackle, using either bait or lures. Prawns, yabbies and poddy mullet can be hard to beat, live or dead.
Coorooman Creek is a great starting point for anyone looking for a blue salmon. It has an abundance of features known to attract both types of salmon caught in Capricornia.
Moving into Coorooman Creek at the mouth is an area of sandbanks that has schools of whiting most of the year. On the north side of the entrance is a huge patch of fallen timber, naturally called The Timbers. The Timbers has a few small creeklets coming into the main creek, running around the big lumps of dead wood. The resulting eddies and current disturbances can hold small mullet and greenback herring in numbers. In between the sandy flats there are some fairly muddy areas that prawns favour, and all this adds up to a reasonably constant supply of bait that predators can’t resist. This particular ground is well known for just about any critter worth chasing, including decent barramundi, flathead, fingermark and, of course, salmon.
Blue salmon work the tides, with the optimum time being as the flow dies down on the incoming tide. At the start of the run-in the yabby beds on the southern shore can switch on and it’s common to see blues with their dorsal or tail fins out of the water in the leading edge as the water rises. On the lower end of the tide we head upstream and work the many deep holes and cockle beds that Coorooman has on offer.
In the warmer months this creek is a grunter paradise, and all the locals reap the benefits without having to travel miles. Often the grunter around here are in the 2-4kg class, mainly hanging in the deepest of the holes. Continuing up the creek, there are more rock bars and snaggy-looking spots that produce barramundi, bream, fingermark and the odd mangrove jack. Coorooman Creek is a unique place because there is no professional netting. You can fish from the shore and the mudbanks or from a boat and catch a stack of different species using bait caught at your feet. Families often drive down to the boat ramp on the Zilzie side and spend the day with the chance of nailing a top feed.
Remember to be careful and keep an eye out for crocs. In all the time we’ve spent fishing here we haven’t seen any, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t around. The Koorana crocodile farm is on one of the branches off the main creek, and though we haven’t had a flood for some time you still hear lots of stories!
Emu Park and Keppel Sands fishers brag about the mudcrabs they catch in the main creek and any of the small creeks. Nowadays, with dodgy ‘share farmers’ growing in numbers, stick close to your pots.
The other tip is to not travel too fast in unfamiliar territory. One set of great barra rocks is called ‘The Can Opener’. In the dark, while everything is peaceful, you can hear a boat coming for ages and then suddenly a screeching grating noise, 5000 revs and then silence once more. We have up to a 4m tidal variation and coming unstuck is on the cards.
Two of Yeppoon’s fishing legends hit Coorooman Creek the other day and showed that varying a theme can be quite productive. Gavin Nash and Ken Richardson had a ball, and alongside a few quality blue salmon they landed a couple of flathead and even a doggie mackerel well up inside the creek. Flasha lures were the only tools they needed.
It’s important to work any lure in a variety of methods and to not be afraid to try different styles. The guys have been using a drift and cast method to keep their lures right down on the bottom. When the Flashas hit the bottom it was a slow steady retrieve that payed immediate dividends, with Gav scoring a healthy blue. As the tide slowed the boys increased the speed of their lures accordingly. To keep the lure in the zone the majority of casts were sent upstream, and as the boat drifted through it was easy to hold the bottom. Nearly all of the strikes were within 300mm of the creek bed, and more than once the chromies were picked up as they settled right down.
Another interesting point was that all the best fish were taken in 2-3m. The guys moved out into the channel and again changed down a gear in retrieval, using the ‘drop, jig, pause, jig’ method, and this scored several large flathead (on chromies), with one big female well oversize. A solid feed was already in the esky so it was painless to watch the big breeder swim back down to cover. Over the period of fishing and maybe a few hundred casts while trying a wide range of retrieves, they proved experimentation is the way to go.
Coorooman Creek hotspots
(1) Keppel Sands boat ramp.
(2) Sandbanks at the mouth of the creek. Whiting, flathead and salmon are caught here.
(3) The Timbers, where you can tangle with barramundi, mangrove jack, salmon, cod and bream. Watch the tides as they flow fast. Neaps are best.
(4) Horton's Creek, which has barra, muddies, salmon, cod and bream.
(5) Whiting, bream and flathead along rocky oyster banks.
(6) Gunter, bream and cod, very seasonal.
(7) Zilzie boat ramp, northside access via Emu Prk and Zilzie.
(8) Cawarral Creek, home of top whiting, bream, flathead, barra, jack, fingermark and mudcrabs.
(9) Rocks and mudbanks, all of the above species.
(10) Mudbanks – grunter, bream and muddies.
(11) The junction of Emu Park Creek and Plain River – barramundi and mudcrabs.
(12) Rocks and mudbanks – grunter, barra, flathead, cod and bream.
(13) Salmon, bream and grunter.
(14) All of the above.
1) Gavin Nash with a Coorooman Creek blue salmon.
2) Ken Richardson caught this blue on a Flasha.
3) Gavin with the big female flathead prior to release.