Another year gone – where we don’t know
  |  First Published: December 2005

As I write this it seems like only last month that we were catching queenfish and trevally out the front.

The grunter failed to show and the blue salmon came and went pretty quickly. The southeasterly winds have turned into the westerly winds, the water temperature stayed pretty warm all year and the weather has been funny the whole time. Where did the year go?

What’s been happening

As expected Makybe Diva won the Melbourne Cup as the black jew arrived in the river. Some good fishing has been had by those prepared to spend a few hours 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. Another way of targeting these fish, especially in really dirty water is by using mullet fillet instead of live mullet. In really filthy water salmon may be able to find the fillet by scent more easily than locating live prey by sense. As usual some good fish have also been taken at night fishing the edge of the light cast off by the numerous wharves in the Norman River.

Up the creeks, barras in the range of 50-70cm have been smashing any lure cast anywhere as they bite their heads off in the build up to the wet. Even changing to tiny lures to try and target king salmon hasn’t helped.

There have been a couple of crabs around but at $25.00/kg nearly all the barra fleet is chasing them in the closed season due to it having been a bad fishing year, so expect a bit of competition. It’s a vicious circle.

What to expect for Christmas

If you are visiting Karumba in December you can probably expect much of the same as November unless the weather gods put us out of our misery and give us some early rain. The black jew 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.

As for weather and fishing conditions expect hot northerly winds, storms, big tides and plenty of humidity.

Christmas Shopping Lists

So you missed out last year on that new rig for the end of the wet barra trip. Here’s what to write on the list for the stocking this year.


You need to have a decent rod to cast lures all day. A nice light rod with cork grips is what you want. Something in the 6–8kg range. 8kg is good for snag work and can double up on live baiting. The Wilson range of rods is what I recommend having used them commercially for the last couple of years. They are well made and durable, which is important when anglers of all skill levels are using them. The Blade series of rods in 8kg and even 10kg were a good compromise with power and sensitivity. If you want a big, no-nonsense rod to chase some pelagics you definitely can’t go past the Texalium 8-15kg threadline with a big reel such as a Shimano Thunnus. It’ll catch everything.


You should have a handful of the Halco Scorpion 120mm, 4m lures in your tackle box. The new Mullet colour and the desert sunset colour range in the Mann’s lures are great catchers. Throw in the gold and you have a lure for all occasions. The purple is a good colour in the more brackish water.

Get some Tilsan Barras as well. They stopped making the best colour which was a browny type but the jaffa arrangement also works well.

A handful of Gold Halco Twisties for jigging on the bottom and throwing at tuna and queenfish is also needed. Talking of gold get a couple of Gold Bombers as well.

While you are it get a new tackle box to house all this stuff.

Idea of the Month

Read it closely. It says idea. All of you who think I have nothing better to do than berate some poor unsuspecting sole are wrong. At least for this month.

Over the last couple of weeks there has been a couple of instances where people have had to be rescued by the authorities at Karumba so I thought it might be timely to explain a few things that might come in handy up here.

If you intend to go anywhere on the water get a VHF Marine Radio installed in you vessel or carry a handheld one. There is no coverage up here on 27mHz apart from the caravan park. Channel 16 VHF is covered 24 hours a day by Karumba Harbour Control and all of the commercial vessels entering, departing and fishing the area. An EPIRB was activated the other day and created a several hour search which ended in a vessel being towed back into town. The vessel was equipped with only a 27mHz radio that was useless. A CDMA mobile phone would have sufficed but should not be relied upon. A big search effort could have been avoided.

The reason the vessel needed towing: it ran out of fuel, another basic error that can easily be avoided. You should carry at least 1/3 more than what you require. A half again would be better. Different conditions can make vessels use far more fuel than normal.

EPIRB does not mean Empty Petrol I Require Boat. It is a means of attracting attention in an emergency. Running out of fuel and then beer is not an emergency.

What a good idea for a Merry Christmas and have a safe holiday.

Things that might make your stay a little safer:

Plan your trip. Work out how far you are going and then fuel accordingly.

Have all the appropriate safety gear. If you create a ‘marine incident’ through your own stupidity you can be asked to pay for the costs of the search. Planes are around $300.00 an hour. Choppers are double that. Vessels are also expensive. Your EPIRB is the last resort.

Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. Leave details of who is on board, vessel details and other important information that may aid searchers. That way if you don’t return then a rescue can be conducted on this information. If you have run out of fuel or have broken down then there should be no need to use an EPIRB.

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