Out for the Trout
  |  First Published: May 2009

We are now into our dry season pattern with the trademark southeasterly winds dominating proceedings and winter species featuring heavily. The wet season had no tail this year with the last extended rain period way back at Easter. This has made way for winter species such as bream, queenfish and inshore trevally to come on the bite.

However, water temperatures remained higher than expected into May, which still allowed the barra, mangrove jack and fingermark to be active. The upper reaches produced plenty of smaller barra in the brackish water using smaller lures, and the bigger saltwater variety were more active after dark right along most stretches of waterways using live baits.

Jacks were very busy amongst mangrove snags taking fresh slabs of mullet or sardine, and fingermark to 60cm were partial live bait in the deeper holes. In saying this one would expect this activity to have subdued somewhat by now as water temperatures plummet during the cooler months. These prized fish will become harder to source over the next few months.

As the mercury dropped anglers had considerable success targeting trevally and queenfish, especially at the entrances of rivers. On incoming tides live sardines drifted in the channel and casting poppers has attracted attention from big queenfish to 1m, golden trevally to a few kilos and a medium sized giant trevally. This plan of action should be the best bet in the coming month.

The rivers and estuaries can become a place of a thousand casts during winter but that incoming tide normally sparks some sort of reaction. If this doesn't come to fruition you'll always receive plenty of action on smaller grunter and fat bream using a peeled prawn around jetties, harbour pylons, rock walls and any man-made structure.

Another worthwhile pursuit at this time of year is mud crabbing. Dickson Inlet and Muddy Creek have been producing handsomely for big male bucks.

Reef fishing opportunities have dwindled somewhat due to increasing winds but the action once out has gradually improved with the weeks. Coral trout and bar-cheek trout have become very common catches with many reaching the magical 5kg mark. Turn of the tide is when the trout are biting best.

Stripeys and Moses perch have been a welcomed by-catch when targeting the trout in 15-25m of water on isolated bommies. Even though these fish are smaller in size, their eating qualities are 5-star. Producing several quality fish off individual bommies has become common practice and will continue to do so in the coming months.

When weather permits the largemouth nannygai have continued to bite well on isolated patches of rubble in 30-40m of water. Whilst tangling with these fish, quality red emperor have appeared adding significant worth to a day’s catch.

As sometimes occurs, trevally schools can arrive on the scene when targeting the deeper reds, and bludger and tealeaf trevally have added another dimension with savage feeding frenzies. The tealeaf are worthwhile keeping and freeze well, but the bludger are best eaten fresh.

It took awhile this year but the smallmouth nannygai are now starting to find form. Balls of bait will show on your sounder on a bommies in 20-30m of water and the nannygai will be around, and when they come on the bite, it is red hot. The fish can soon pile up in the esky, so just keep an eye on your bag limits. Pesky sharks have ruined some sessions but that's the name of the game.

Pelagics have been on the increase with Spanish mackerel being caught regularly on floating rigs while reef fishing. It always pays to troll a couple of lures nowadays in between locations, which can nicely top up your catch with a few mackerel fillets. Pressure points on corners of reef holding bait will also have the Spaniards not far away.

Another by-catch will be your oceanic queenfish with their vibrant blue and green shadings. They are great fun on light gear and if you come a across a patch, casting and retrieving a metal slice works well or just float unweighted pieces of pilchard.

There have been a few reports of small billfish being sighted in amongst the reefs and there are schools of yellowfin on the edge of the shelf pushing through channels to the reef proper.

If you can source a calm day, your day’s outing is very pleasant at this time of year and your best action will take you offshore.

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