Plague Spaniards, premier fingermark
  |  First Published: September 2009

Mackerel are so prolific in local waters they are becoming annoying! Not just little doggie macks either, but Spaniards averaging about 8-12kg are schooled up in big numbers on a shoal off the back of Salamander Reef.

The secret GPS co-ordinates are now out so far be it for me to keep these from our loyal readers. The co-ordinates are: S 19 05.727 E 147 06.846.

This will put you in the general area and a quick troll around will not only see you catch a few fish but it will also reveal quite a few lumps, bumps and bait schools. These will all hold mackerel and some small bottom fish.

Remember as the water warms and as more and more boats fish this area the schools will move on for another season so get out there soon.

Most importantly I implore all anglers to only take what they need and leave some fish for next year.

As the macks move on fingermark will become one of the main targets and Townsville has one of the best trophy fingermark fisheries on the east coast of Queensland.

The majority of fish are caught using live baits, which are caught or jigged under a light suspended at the side of the boat. Night fishing in the tropics allows you to dodge not only the summer heat, but also the crowds if you put the time in finding less popular spots.

Places like Cape Cleveland, Two Foot, Four Foot and even Sally are going to get plenty of boat traffic, as they are easily accessible. However if you head further into the great blue yonder looking for structure of any sort the fingers will not be far away.

Shoals, wrecks, rocks and rubble will all hold good numbers of fingermark in the inshore country. The area locally referred to as the Maggie Island Shoals is either too far out or too deep for fingers so look for areas within a few miles of the cape or Maggie.

You will need to spend some time on the water sussing out your new secret spot to work out the what, when and how’s of this new area.

Remember if you take all of these slow-growing fish home straight away, they will take years to recover and they may not return to your secret spot in your lifetime, so it is worth protecting your hard to come by honey hole.

The worst for fingermark stocks other than the commercial fishing sector targeting these species, has been the coral reef finfish closures.

Those anglers who would normally chase reef fish during the good weather of the new moon have had to turn to other species of fish and unfortunately fingermark have filled the void for some esky fillers.

Some good news has been the barra fishing. With the water warming and a great wet season, schools of rat barra have been keeping most lure-fishing fanatics more than happy.

Live bait snag bashers have had some trouble getting live prawn down to a legal fish but again as the water warms and you can return to using live mullet or whiting, then the bigger fish will be easier to target.

The best barra reports are still coming from Cattle Creek to the north and Morrisseys to the south. Both systems contain good, deep stretches compared to other creeks and rivers in our area. As always use your sounder to find the fish and anchor up accordingly.

There is also great black jew and grunter fishing available at the moment off the Cape, Bowling Green and Sand Spit. The deep water out the front of the Spit about 50m out is a great spot to look for a good jewie or two.

Fish live baits of big prawn, squid or mullet. I personally prefer the live squid but it is a matter of using what you can get and keep alive.

Fish these baits on a paternoster rig at slack water or on neap tides, otherwise use a running rig when there is movement in the water.

The same moon preferred for big fingers is to the liking of black jew, but early morning tides are also worth a try if you’re scared of the dark.

As for the grunter, fish right on the point of the Spit in the deeper water. Just be aware of the green zones in place inside Bowling Green Bay.

Grunter are more of a scavenger and dead baits can be dynamite on big grunter, so if your baits die on you while out chasing Jew come back to the Spit and chase grunter. While they may not have that wow-factor of a big jewie the eating quality of grunter is more than worth the effort in targeting them.

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