Good Omens for Options
  |  First Published: March 2009

This year has begun with a wet season like years ago, when we had quite a lot of rain and fresh flows around helping increase prawn sizes and numbers. A variety of reefies seem to show up in close as the rivers and the creeks flush the prawns out into the bay.

Forty Acre Paddock, Conical, Outer and Liza Jane have shown again this year that specimens like big nannygai keep coming in after the fresh flows. This is one of the reasons April around the islands is pretty good for a fair range of the top table fish.

The wider grounds are on fire at present with red throat emperor, grassy sweetlip, red jew, cod and parrot come in to the rubble and reef patches in close. Coral trout are always around putting the icing on the cake or saving the day you can always bank on a trout or two.

Red throat and parrot are found mostly over the top of reef structures, more so than the steeper sides. We often drift over the shoal country with as light a weight as possible using fresh iodine bream fillets or just-caught squid. If red throat are about they travel in numbers and can bring other fish on the chew when they storm the berley pot. Although there is a lot of them about it will pay to hit the wider less fished locations to get the prize size red throat.

Parrot come into very shallow waters at times around the local islands, and they seem to love the rocky ledges and slopes near the many coral patches of the Keppels. The pick bait for parrot is peeled large king prawns, particularly when the weather has been a bit dirty.

The softer baits are always the best for parrot, tuskies or blue tooth. A light weighted rig with the sinker down on top of the hook works well and they also respond well to berley.

The grassy sweetlip, yellows and spangled are found over the deeper shoaly type country and are caught by fishers chasing emperor or nannygai. They will take most fresh baits and love a big squid/pillie cocktail like the redfishes. Red emperor prefer the deeper shoals and rubble patches with fern. The deeper waters inside the outer reef approximately 50-60m have vast areas of rubble and red fern sometimes metres long. The schools of redfish move through the fern getting into the stacks of small stuff hiding there.

The old cliché of the best fishing is around sun-up and sundown definitely applies to reds. The odd fish get caught at other times but as a rule this is the best time and even better if there is a tide change at the same time.

The standard running ball over the hook or the snapper rig both work well on any given day and have far less gear loss from snagging the reefy lumps. Pilchards, squid, flesh strip baits, prawns and herring all rate as good dead baits and if you can get and keep any of these alive all the better. Always take a bait jig when you go fishing because fresh bait/fillets or livies do account for a high percentage of the quality fish caught.

Spanish mackerel continue to be taken around the area, a considerable improvement over the last year or two, and the regular Spanish mackerel spots are performing very well. Conical Rock, Outer Rock, Man & Wife, Liza Jane and Barren and Child Flat and Perforated Isles, Manifold, the contour lines and the shoals produce large Spanish mackerel in numbers. Even spots such as Forty Acre and Rossís Reef that are better known for doggies and spotties have had quality Spaniards of late.

Doggies should start coming in again as they normally do, starting at the islands out from Emu Park and Keppel Sands, as well as other places in the local area. Proximity to the local launching areas make it easy to fish Ironpot, Rita Mada and Farnborough Reef for even the small craft.

We may get a small run of spotted mackerel provided conditions are reasonable, otherwise we won’t see them much before September. We have heaps of spots in the area from the harbour wall and some of the headlands for the fellows without boats. Farnborough Reef, Rita Mada, Iron Pot, Forty Acre and Conical are most probably among the better places to start looking.

Mudcrabs are around in quantity keeping local crabbers on the run. Crabs usually start feeding heavily as the water cools down so they are fat before they shut shop in the middle of winter. The Fitzroy River, Coorooman Creek, Pumpkin Creek, Ross Creek, Corio Bay, Waterpark Creek and Shoalwater Bay as well as Stanage Bay are all worth trying. The mouths of the creeks and little tributaries have worked the best and the coming weeks, unless we get some rain, events will be much the same.

King salmon are about the place, in The Fitzroy River, Port Alma and the Narrows have been the salmon spots with most working the mud banks and small drains along the river edge.

Grunter are still being taken in Connors Creek, The Causeway Lake, Coorooman Creek and Waterpark Creek. As of the new size 400mm many of the average creek fish will now be under size.

Port Alma and The Narrows in the river are the big bream haunts because of the amount of decent structures, such as the rock wall and wharves. River prawns, yabbies, pilchards, mullet flesh strips can be readily obtained or baitfish caught fresh can pull the better fish. From now on, yellowfin bream gather towards the mouths of the creeks and Corio Bay where fishing from the bank can be as productive as from a boat. The rocky headlands along the coast are producing large bream at the moment.

Black jew have gained ground with more of a show lately. Four days before and after the full moon in any of the local jew holes should work well at this time of year. Big baits including squid, pillies and slabs of fresh bonito or mackerel is the bait to use. Heavy gear is the key to landing these big fellas when they are in around reef or pinnacle structures.

Last but not least, barramundi. The barra captures across the area have been quite good recently and as it gets cooler they will move either out around the close islands and headlands or the deeper slower moving holes where they hang until things heat up again. Last year however they only stopped biting on the cold days, so we might still have plenty of time yet to nail a nice salty without too much trouble.

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