Barra Angst
  |  First Published: February 2009

What a different summer were having this year, it looks like we are finally going back to the same weather patterns we had 20 years ago. This would have to be our best storm season for two decades and the water temperature and humidity has returned to how it used to be. We might even see a few cyclones. Either way it looks like a top wet season on its way.

The past month has seen an increase in the northerly airflow and subsequently has slowed the reef fishing during the day. But anglers fishing at night have reported good captures of various reef species although many of these anglers have put up with some nasty storms and 30-40miles offshore with lightning bolting from the sky is no fun. So be a bit wary if you are heading out at night.

The inshore fishing has been a bit patchy particularly up the Hinchinbrook Channel, which is prone to the flood runoff. There has been some reasonable reports from Missionary Bay and Gould Island of golden grunter and fingermark. Eva Island and just wide has produced some excellent sport fishing on trevally species, northern blue and mack tuna. Metal slices and poppers are once again the favourites.

Personally I have not done a great deal of fishing in the past month as this is the time of year we do our refits so that our boats are up to scratch for the coming season. This year I have installed the Hummingbird Sidescan 997 unit to my barra boat and boy what a toy. Just recently I have been looking at some old hookup marks around the Palm Islands that I previously never found anything on, but a quick scout around with the side scan I have found things that would have taken a month of Sundays to find.

Needless to say I am very impressed with this technology and I found it very easy to use as I did not even have to refer to the manual. It is just like a conventional sounder in many respects but gives an outstanding lateral view and the clarity of bottom structure is brilliant. I would recommend it to anyone who has the dollars to install one and it is sure to improve your fishing.

The fishing in February will depend a lot on the monsoon and the opening of the barra season may be a little slow for anglers trying to target them as they normally would. If we see plenty of rain and I expect we will, anglers should look at upper reaches of rivers where the gutters and drains come out of the lagoons and as the fresh disperses start looking at the headlands and flats again. Even if excessive rain slows the fishing temporarily it is good for the species to rejuvenate and enjoy a good spawning run.

I am once again critical of our fishery legislators for allowing gillnets to target barra right in the middle of the spawning season where they are easy pickings for the nets. The closed season is from 1 November to 1 February and considering we don’t start to get our rain until January it seems a terrible waste to allow the barra to bet netted right in the middle of the spawn.

I believe the barra season should be closed from 1 January to the end of March as this is the time of year we get our rains that trigger the spawning run. It would also allow for anglers and charter operators to have an extra couple of months (Nov, Dec) targeting barra, because we all have to put up with this period overlapping the fin-fish closures during what was normally our busiest time of year.

Hope you have plenty of fun if your visiting our wonderful waters of Hinchinbrook.

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