Fantastic February
  |  First Published: January 2010

Fishing in February is fabulous with varied weather opening up a range of fishing possibilities. This is also the season of the Central Queensland summer storms. We have missed out in the past few years but my aching bones are telling me this will be the wet season we have been waiting for.

In the Estuaries

We scored some nice Christmas showers and storms and this really got things moving in the estuaries. Long-range weather forecasters are predicting February is likely to be a wet month. If so, it changes your fishing targets.

I believe the freshwater in the creeks and rivers chase the fish closer to the salt and sends them a little deeper. So the deeper holes around the mouth of most estuaries will be the places to target this month.

Likely spots include deeper holes at the mouth of the Calliope between Wiggins and Clinton wharves, around the bridge where Trees Inlet meets the Gladstone Harbour and around the old meatworks jetty.

I find the larger fish are more likely to move from the fresh water than the smaller species. It must have something to do with the lack of tolerance that comes with age – like us all.

Barometric Pressure and Fishing

The humidity of the summer months usually brings more activity on the reef areas around Gladstone. Central Queensland is renowned for big changes in barometric pressure during this time of the year.

There is considerable debate around the impact of humidity on fishing activity. A common belief is that some fish sense pressure change through their air bladder. Some species have small air bladders like Spanish mackerel, wahoo and kingfish and are not affected as much as species with larger air bladders like trout, tarpon, and snapper.

When the barometric pressure drops, it is believed the fish with the larger air bladders feel discomfort and lose interest in feeding, whereas other species with small air bladders are relatively unaffected.

In this theory, the fish with large air bladders will move around because it’s believed they feel bloated or full. It is thought these fish move into deep water seeking higher water pressure and ride out the low pressure around structures. The theory suggests just prior to change from a high to a low, fish will bite like crazy until the low hits and then stop.

Of course planning your fishing trips according to barometric pressure is just plain ridiculous but a simple rule to consider is if barometric pressure is low and humidity is high, such as occurs during summer storm build-ups, the fish are likely to be deeper and need more activity such as diving lures to induce feeding.

On the Reef

Rock Cod Shoals is starting to move bigger fish around this month and this will continue in February. Sweetlip and tuskers are featuring in local fishing reports. Bottom bouncing is enough to get fish to fire up. A paternoster rig seems to be the preferred set up on the shoals as it keeps the hook a little off the bottom structure. Dragging your hook is a sure fire method to hooking the bottom and temporarily anchoring the boat.

The 12 Mile reef structure is worth a look during this time of year, as it often gives up some great red emperor. I usually like to drift through most reef structure but at 12 Mile I like to anchor up and lay down a berley trail. I also leave an unweighted floater out the back just in case a mackerel cruises past and feels like a nibble or two. A pillie on a ganged hook is the best format to handle those sharp teeth.

I have also known red throat to rise to a floating bait. I vary between attaching a small balloon to keep the pillie on top and leaving the pillie to move up and down with the current. I have been equally successful with both methods. I am more inclined to use a balloon if anchored up as an unweighted pillie sometimes sinks to the bottom over time.

In the Harbour

It is a little quiet in the harbour of late. There have been some reports of small bream coming to the boat from Graham Creek. Colosseum Inlet has produced some quality whiting over the yabby banks and the clump of reef at the harbour entrance is housing some big tuskers. Anchor just off the reef and cast onto the structure to bring the fish out.

The beach areas are holding both whiting and flathead. Live prawns will do the trick but peeled fresh prawns are as equally effective. It is worth dropping a few crab pots along the mangrove edges in Colosseum Creek.

Colosseum is also a great spot in which to anchor up for an overnighter, as it’s a safe anchorage for the night but it’s also a sandfly haven so bring the spray.

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