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Weather and Fish Collide
  |  First Published: September 2009



Finally got one right with the lesser mackerels all hitting the bay at some stage last month.

Spotted, grey, doggy, a few sharky mackerel and bonito followed the schools of small whitebait into the bay as the weather came good at the right time. Some of the doggies landed were as big as they get and a visitor from Townsville caught a sharky that could be a record. A few big Spanish mackerel have been caught at Ironpot following the small mackerel and bonito, starting a late run. The local spots that work for mackerel are Rosslyn Bay Harbour (outside wall and the southern point), Farnborough Reef, Bangalee, Ironpot, Rita Mada, Corio Heads, Findlays Reef and take your pick of the islands off Emu Park down to Quartz and little Quartz off Keppel Sands.

Jigging lures or trolling spoons will account for the largest share of doggies or grey mackerel in our region. Then the old faithful pilchard floated out comes in next. Flashas are the local lure of choice, though any of the smaller varieties of chromies do the job. Cast out your lure, let it sink until it is close to the bottom and then retrieve it fairly quickly, occasionally changing the pace to make an erratic path.

Reefies, normally pretty average in September, have come on with some fine red emperor and large mouth nannygai in the deeper water fern country and local wrecks. These fish like big baits best and an 8/0 hook with a whole or half pillie and a whole squid cocktail is almost irresistible to them. Big flesh baits and live yakkas also rate highly. The shoals have also been producing top quality red throat emperor and coral trout. Drifting the reef drop offs with live baits or large flesh baits will grab the attention of any trout it passes in the deeper waters. The Keppels are phenomenal for coral trout nearly all the time. They can be found in spots that you think are too close to the beach or too shallow and right in the middle of the hard fished areas. Try lures and jigging big plastics - it might surprise you where they are and how easy they are to catch.

One reason or another, estuary fishing slipped quietly into the background as offshore fishing took over the major role in not only my life but plenty of others around the place. You forget the simple things that made you appreciate the whole package, the beauty and the little things that helped you work out where the fish or the prawns and crabs will be on any given day. Every so often it takes a reality check by doing something out of the norm. Lately I have been doing some modifications to my big boat leaving the only choice, to dust off the estuary rig laying in wait for the Rocky Barra Bounty. The immense pleasure of hitting Corio Bay and the creeks has come back. We have been doing the drift and cast method working big areas over a tide and by trying to vary start times we got to see the huge changes in the system. Where there were once underwater jungles of trees and roots is now bare, rock bars silted over and others exposed where previously there were none.

Plan a full day, get as far as you can with the run out and come back with the leading edge of the run in. It won’t be a wasted day from any point of view and chances are you will pick up a few quality fish along the way. High and low tide spots can be found much easier when there is little water, particularly when you can’t get in close enough to sound right along the banks. You get a great idea of where to fish at any given stage of the tide.

In our area the water moves in and out at speed because of the big tide ranges, drifting will show you where there are slow spots or where the current rages and other flow deviations that may hold fish. The added advantage is getting to see everything that goes on around the creeks and makes it easier to pick which spot is right for the conditions. Most anglers head straight to their old bait spots and then to the same old spot they got bream years ago while missing another world. Most little creek boats don’t carry GPS, so take a notebook with you to jot down features and structures that will hold fish at other times. Much of the stuff relearned in the last few weeks is showing dividends already in the form of barra and flatties. We mainly use plastics and a range of Richo’s Lures and only using bait or livies when we were waiting for the water to build enough to continue. This allows us a much bigger range, a greater variety in species and probably more decent fish caught at the end of the day.

As the winter weather passed and temperatures have rose considerably well above normal the creeks around Yeppoon and Rockhampton fired. Usually slow through September and into the beginning of October, the favourite species such as barramundi, fingermark and mangrove jack have been turning up everywhere. Then, added to the mix is the regular bread and butter species like bream, flathead and whiting making the complete picture very nice indeed.

This year there appears to be a big run of just undersized barramundi in all the systems especially the Fitzroy and providing they don’t get to legal before the season closes they stand a chance of avoiding the pros for the short term. Live baits and lures have been sharing honours across the area and it depends on where in the river you fish which is best. When the run is too fast to fish along the main channels, find an eddy and put a couple of good sized mullet or prawns under floats and flick them in close to the structure and hang on.

The local made Richo’s Lures get the nod from the better fishers up here mainly for their ability to get deep quick, which is a must for barra in the river. Because of the depths and the big current pushing all the broken trees and stuff hard against the rock walls and banks you need a fair size lure that will nose dive instantly for best result. When the water heats up over the closed season and other places in the region, shallow divers and poppers can do the trick.

King salmon have been in pretty good form for much of the cooler months and still keep coming. Not many anglers can target salmon and take one every time, though sometimes when you are at the right place they can be thick. Kings favour hard eddies like the trailing edge of a beached ship or large rock bars and jetty pylons when the current is fast and along the mud banks where they can get into the shallows chasing prawns or other small critters

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