Macs are back
  |  First Published: April 2009

Considering May is the start of the cold months there is still a wide variety of summer species on the chew.

It might sound like I keep harping on about the rainfall this year and the affect it has had on pelagic species coming into Keppel Bay, however it has also affected the estuaries but in a positive way.

I live on a creek a fair way from the salt and for the second time in 12 years there are baby barramundi right at my back door. This means that the juveniles are spreading much further up the system away from the bigger predators, which allows them to grow up in peace. The returns will probably be evident in coming years and let’s hope the trend keeps happening.

As expected the mackerels have been moving into the area in numbers. The dropping of conditions should give us a chance to get amongst them. The Capricorn Coast is one of the easiest places anywhere for the average fisher to catch mackerel without all the boats, bells or whistles needed to get to the fish elsewhere.

The closest spots to the shore include the many headlands from Emu Park up into Army Country are all holding doggies. These small or lesser mackerels arrive in huge schools and stay on and off until December depending on the weather. Most of the doggies we get are just under size but with some very nice fish in between.

Doggy mackerel can be brought right up to the boat by cubing or a slow steady berley stream. Then floating out pillies down the berley line will present them with a feed they can’t resist.

The other popular method for catching school mackerel is a fast retrieved spoon, slice or flasha. The highest speed reel you can find is the best choice and at 6:1 ratio the Shimano TSS4 is an affordable spinning real that suits the average mackerel fisher. I have some higher quality gear, but the old Shimano gets a fair share of the mackerel I catch including spotted mackerel, Spanish, greys and of course doggies.

Always let your chromie sink for a few seconds before starting to retrieve as this keeps the lure in the water longer, and if the fish are sitting in a deeper part of the water column it gives them a longer opportunity to nail it.

Many of the mackerel spots here have big rock or reef structures so I always start by counting to 10 before winding in and slowly increase the count each cast until I find the depth of the fish or I hit bottom. Flashas, Crocs, Bumpa Bars and Taipans are among the favourites of the locals and many times they will get smashed on the drop, which can be a pain on mono leaders.

This leads to the next tip, which type: leader, wire or mono? Over the years stats have proved that mono leaders get the most strikes on any given day but there are always a few losses. We have tried a lot of techniques to date, if they won’t hit the wire, use heavy mono and put a 50mm piece of red plastic tube just above the lure or set of gangs. On saying that, once the fish are chewing their heads off, out comes the 7-strand and piano wire so at least we don’t completely empty the tackle box.

Grey or broad barred mackerel and Spanish mackerel are also in some quantity over mid year with a rare school of spotties passing through occasionally until they show in numbers around September.

Forty Acre, Conical, Rita Mada, Iron Pot, Farnborough, Bangalee, Findlays, The Rosslyn Bay Harbour wall, Barren & Child, Pelican, Wedge, Divided, Quartz, Humpy, Sykes, Liza Jane, Sunken Reef, Man & Wife, Outer Rock, Flat, Perforated, The Pinnacles, Stockyard Point, Five rocks and Manifold are all very good mackerel spots when the fish are on.

The other outside species that turnout in this part of the year have been red jew, red emperor, grassy sweetlip, red throat emperor, coral trout, hussar and cod. Particularly on the moon, many of these guys come into the shallower waters of Keppel Bay in reasonable numbers and sizes.

The chill in the air signals black jew are back. They are another species that school from several days before the full moon and several days after the moon in some prominent fishing spots right at our door. The Double Heads and Ironpot jewholes are within a couple of 100m of the Rosslyn Bay boat ramp.

Years ago keen jew fishers would walk the track to the top of Double Heads and climb down the rock face out the front to fish the blowhole. The trouble came when they had to climb back again with their fishing gear and a couple of big jewies.

Corio Heads is perhaps the best of the local jewholes where the tinny brigade turn up in droves once the word gets out the jew are in. It is only a short run from the beach at Sandy Point to the headland making it a very popular location.

Black jew move into the deeper spots like The Pinnacles, Cape Capricorn and Double Rocks (just north of Manifold) in between the spurts inshore. Squid, pilchards, bonito and ribbonfish fillets account for the major share of black jew in CQ.

The Waterpark Creek/Corio Bay system is as diverse as any around Australia. It has wetlands, muddy creeks, mangroves, fresh flow, clear saltwater estuaries and white sand beaches that hold just about any temperate or tropical fish species at times.

Right up the top end is where Yeppoon gets its water supply and upstream has the usual freshwater fishes and stuff, such as barramundi that have made it upstream as juveniles to grow out away from the big saltwater predators. The upper salt reaches have quality barramundi, mangrove jack and some horse sized black or pikey bream.

Moving on downstream there is a heap of little run offs and small creeks where mud crabs, grunter and salmon add to the list. Corbetts and Kellys Landings are the two top end boat ramps where you can get a good feed without putting the boat in. Remember there is no nets allowed, including bait and cast nets upstream from Kellys.

Where Waterpark enters Corio on the right is Greenslopes and the left side is Solero. Both these spots are great for prawning at low tide and then fish the incoming for barra, fingermark, flathead, mangrove jack and salmon.

Greenslopes Creek is a top crab spot and from there on the north side of Corio is a heap of mangrove and rocky rubble patches and crystal clear waters that fire frequently with most species and the odd unexpected fish.

Inside Corio there has been mac tuna, ribbonfish, tarpon, bream, whiting, flatties, doggy mackerel, blue salmon, king salmon, grunter, fingermark, mangrove jack, stargazer, queenfish, black jew, golden trevally, giant trevally, tea leaf trevally plus a few I can’t name. On the south side of Corio are Deep, Sandfly and Fishing creeks that continue as above.

This bottom end of the system is accessible from a number of spots including a drive up the beach from Yeppoon to Sandy Point or through Capricorn Resort and the many dirt and sand tracks. The Corio system is as pristine as you will find anywhere and is always worth a look even without any fishing gear.

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