I find January the hardest month of the year to forecast due to the unpredictable weather. We could have flooding rains and tropical storms or clear, hot, blue skies.
Hopefully you’re reading this because it is too wet to go fishing. If the big wet season rains has arrived by now then we can expect some sensational fishing around town.
We still have another month to wait before the barra are back on the wish list so do yourself a favour and let them breed unmolested to make this year better than the previous with more fingerlings in the water.
If the rains fail to begin in the new year then expect some great fishing. Big jacks and fingermark will be holding on the snags in most creeks and grunter will cover the rubble pads and shell grit areas during the tops of the tides. Crabs will also be well up in the mangroves waiting for the flush.
Outside around the headlands squid will be easy to find using an artificial light and a fine mesh scoop; remember wherever there is squid, big fingermark won’t be far behind.
When we get some good rain the weirs and the dam wall are always an exciting spectacle for fisherman with floodwaters pouring out into the bay. This is normally a good sign of the fishing to come for the year. But it also kicks off the prawn and crabbing by flushing them out of the creeks and into the bay. Most crabbers will set their pots on the flats from Sandfly to roughly Cocoa Creek.
Be aware of the tides as some of the shallower flats can drain quickly and leave you and your pots stuck out in the hot sun.
By all means leave your pots in overnight as there is next to no heat for the crabs to dry out in but if you are crabbing during the day don’t leave them in shallow areas that will dry out on the low tide. It’s a waste of your time and energy if you kill the crabs by leaving the pot in the sun.
The most popular baits at the moment are chicken frames or pig’s heads, which can be picked up from your local butcher.
If the creeks around town are flowing hard with freshwater expect the fishing to be a little slow, as most of our northern species don’t like full fresh water.
Head outside the creek mouth and look for rocks, headlands, reefs and wrecks. These types of structure should be out of the main freshwater flow and have a good mix of saltwater around them and you should find plenty of creek species holding in these spots until the flow of water subsides.
One such location is the rock walls around the Townsville harbour and another is West Point over on Magnetic Island. Both of these areas tend to provide good cover for creek fish during heavy flooding.
Shoot out past Cape Cleveland to places like Four Foot Rock or Salamander Reef and you should find big numbers of large queenfish schooled up just waiting for an easy feed.
The best way I have found to get onto a hot session is to try flicking metal slices or poppers around the structure. Work your lures with speed; if a queenie follows your lure up to the boat without hitting it chances are you are not getting enough speed out of your reel. This is when those expensive, high-speed spinning reels really come into their own.
Fishing the reef in summer can be red hot in and out of the water. Take buckets of sunscreen and plenty of fluids and keep a watch on the horizon for storms, which can form quickly and make flat seas rough.
Lodestone and Keeper reefs always receive plenty of boat traffic and as a result may not fish as well as the Slashers, Hopkinsons or even the Kelso reefs. At this time of year bag limits are easily reached on a variety of reef species, but remember to take only what you need.
Finally for all those anglers who are complaining about the net boats targeting and destroying breeding aggregations of fingermark up and down the Queensland coast, particularly off Townsville and Cairns, then do yourself a favour – report your disgust to the Minister for Fisheries Tim Mulherin.
Make sure to state how important these inshore bruisers are to you as a recreational angler, state your understanding of how slow they are to mature to a breeding size, and try to get your feelings on this matter across without being offensive to the minister or professional fisherman.
The only way for Queensland fisheries take us seriously is for them to see some pressure from our sector. Let’s make 2010 the year fingermark are made a recreational only species.Reads: 1277