Fingermark flavour of summer
  |  First Published: December 2009

Fishing on the reef and in the estuaries has been a little hit and miss lately. Reef trips have had varying results, some have managed good catches but others have returned a little disappointed.

Reports from trips around the harbour have also given mixed results. Some bream are hitting lines around the closer islands like Quoin and Picnic, although you have to work your way through a lot of smaller ones first.

In the harbour

The mangrove edges of Quoin can be productive locations but they can also be quite shallow and muddy. Working the tides here will get the best results. Flick the bait in towards the mangrove and work it slowly back. The structure around the old Quoin jetty can house some solid grunter, if you can coax them from their holes.

Cod can be found in the deeper holes around Tide Island but be prepared with some heavy anchors to hold your boat above them.

Good bream have been running inside and outside of Marina bund walls with a few jew coming to lines on the outside bund walls at night. Whole squid and large strip baits are the go.

Sandbars are becoming more prevalent in the harbour so sticking to the channel markers is the safer bet. Middle bank as you head through to the Northern Entrance is starting to appear on the smaller tides. I guess dredging is needed to clear these traps.

In the Estuaries

In the next month of so fingermark can be caught along the edges of Calliope River.

While they are occasionally taken on lures, fingermark are best targeted with bait. Bottom structure is essential to hold these fish and the deeper water is preferred. Fingermark tend to occupy the deeper holes along the Calliope River.

Because they are aggressive fighters, you need fairly heavy tackle, strong leaders, sharp 3/0 to 6/0 hooks and fresh fish or large prawn baits. Either a running sinker or dropper rig will work.

The fish should be allowed to mouth the bait and take it before striking hard to set the hook in their solid bony mouth. Some argue fingermark are the best eating estuary fish.

Fingermark can also be found out in the reef and they are common catches around Cape Capricorn. They frequent shallower reef areas (8-12m) but they are more often found in the deeper holes of the reef.

The occasional trevally is coming to fishers working the Calliope River causeway. Smaller barra are turning up at the hot water inlet. With the heat of the central Queensland summer, fish seem to move into the snags that are little more protected from the heat.

No rain of any substance has fallen for some time, so the old adage of drought on land, drought on the water, will have you working harder to entice bites.

In the Calliope River this month, try to get onto the deeper holes around Devil’s Elbow and Beecher Creeks. If you can get onto the sand bar at Beecher, you should be able to pick up some good whiting.

Targinie will also be a good spot if you head right down to the further reaches and flick onto the gravel bars. I have heard reports of some queenfish being taken here.

The Narrows will be worth a hit particular around Ramsays Crossing where you can work the small eddies. Both grunter and bream can sit in ambush here and attack anything that moves past. The sandies and mossies will also be active, so don’t forget the insect repellent.

On the Reef

With the price of fuel, travelling great distances to the reef really has to pay dividends.

The closer reefs are punching above their weight this time of the year with Bass Shoals around Cape Capricorn both worth exploring.

There is plenty of structure in the form of large bommies here but they are spread out. I have my favourite spots but I often drift until I come across something on the sounder and then I anchor up. I find the fish hang in pretty tight to the structure here so you have to work your bait or lure as close as you can.

If you are heading up to Cape Capricorn, it is always worth ducking in to Yellow Patch. This is one of my favourite camping locations but it is also a varied and interesting. Before you head into the beach try the holes around the rock walls. They are around the 15m mark and you will be able to pick up some nice trevally here.

Yellow Patch is whiting haven. If you sit on the beach, you can target the specific whiting you want to catch as it swims past. The best and freshest bait you can get hold of are the go, because these whiting have numerous yabby banks on which to feed. A scabby old prawn just won’t do the trick. But if you are happy to while away the hours on a tropical beach then Yellow Patch is the place for you.

When you have had all the fun you need here, you can get back to the Cape Cap reefs for more work.

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