Downpour of Options
  |  First Published: February 2009

What a wet season we’ve had so far. While we are yet to receive heavy flooding rains from a cyclone, the freshwater flushing of our creeks and rivers bodes well for some of the best fishing Townsville has seen for quite a while.

One favourite past time during any floodwater run-off is to head over to some of the bays or headlands. When muddy freshwater dumps into Cleveland bay it tends to force good numbers of big salty barra over to the rocky bays of the cape. Rattling shallow running lures in either gold or orange work well while the water is still murky. If the floodwaters have subsided and clear saltwater has returned to the bay you will still find good fish over there, but they tend to mostly feed around the bigger tides. Fish the incoming tide around shallow rocks and mangroves. Also try lures that are more natural looking and non-rattling as the fish up here can be a little spooky with the clearer water.

The creeks and rivers immediately around Townsville will fish quite well as the water begins to turn salty again. We just have to contend with the barrage of gill nets set throughout the waterways. Look for new snags that the wet has slid into the water. A telltale sign of a new snag is where the bank has a flat vertical edge to the water and there are mangrove trees on the bank. Chances are that a couple of trees have fallen in and you have found a new snag to fish.

When fishing these locations, carefully choose bait for specific target species. For example when targeting bream use live or fresh prawns or if you want mangrove jacks use poddy mullet. For barra use big live baits of mullet or whiting. For lure preferred anglers cast or troll lures roughly the same size as the afore mentioned baits. These are just general rules to follow and can always be adapted to suit your style of fishing.

Land based anglers can find success fishing the run-off around local weirs such as Blacks, Gleesons, Aplins, Griu and even Aims Road flats. Instead of putting the rods away when the fresh stops and waiting until the next wet, some great fishing can still be had by fishing the same areas when they are not in flood.

The bridges over Ross River and Ross Creek all fish very well at night and trophy fish are not uncommon. The recent run of grunter around the 60cm mark that came into the harbour and up Ross creek on the dark moon was very uncommon though. The grunter ran for a few nights in a row and as the tides waned so did the fish. It was an interesting sight seeing so many fishers parked on the sides of the rock walls at night.

Another interesting little fact of nature was the run of big banana prawns. I am not talking about the bait prawns taken off the strand jetty but rather the hauls of big eating prawns that schooled up on Shellys Beach and the sand on the town side of west point. Those in the know managed an easy feed so this might be worth putting in your diary.

The blue water fishing scene has been red hot when anglers have been able to get offshore. The clean water has been holding good numbers of fingermark and grunter while the shoals have been plagued with slatey bream and trevally. The few reds willing to bite have been top class fish as well.

Further out the reports from the reefs have depended on fishing pressure. Live trout mother boats have been reportedly teaming up and working a reef together and when recreational anglers have tried to fish the same reef they have come home almost empty handed. If you want to improve your catch rate there are a couple of things you can do.

Firstly change location, if you have the time and fuel move to another reef, while fishing out on reefs like Arab Is not really preferable by most anglers, areas like this are slowly becoming more popular. Otherwise try fishing the deeper waters off the rise. Look for isolated rubble and bommies in deepwater as the pros don’t tend to fish in these areas as they cannot keep the fish alive for sale.

And finally for our regular players, I still have not heard from the minister for fisheries regarding fingermark. It has only been four months since I sent the first letter and I will continue to ask the question of him. I am fully aware that I am bashing my head against a brick wall when it comes to what I am asking, but I will ask again anyway. If any readers out there would like to see fingermark removed from the commercial species list write a letter or an email or a fax or anything to your local state member as one letter can make the difference.

That’s all for this month and I hope to see you out on the water.

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