Sooties and Barra on the chew
  |  First Published: February 2010

The month of March in the Whitsundays should provide some great fishing in the rivers, islands and Peter Faust Dam. Here’s a rundown of what’s on offer this month.

Whitsundays Rivers

The rivers in the Whitsunday region include the Proserpine, Thompson and O’Connell rivers. These three rivers should be a good place to fish after the usual heavy rains around this time of the year.

Although almost any tropical estuary fish can turn up in these rivers expect to catch the usual targets of barramundi, salmon, grunter, bream and flathead. These fish are the most common catches in the Whitsunday rivers on bait and lures and are great fun to catch.

To increase your chances of finding the fish in these rivers try fishing the deeper bends with freshly caught bait. If using lures, try targeting any trees that have fallen into the water on the edges of the river.

The mouth of the river can also produce good fishing in calmer weather. Look for large oyster rocks on the edges with current flow pushing past. Fish usually hang around the base of this type of structure which gives them protection from other predators and a spot to feed on bait as it passes by in the current.

The Islands

The Whitsunday islands should produce the usual targets in March with plenty of options available for anyone heading out to fish around the islands.

Both longtail and mac tuna, can be found quite easily when they are around in large numbers by looking for any diving seabirds, generally out in open water. Once you’ve found these fish they can be quite easy to catch on small metal slices retrieved quickly through the schools.

GT should be a great big fish to target around any of the large rocky points of the mainland and also the isolated rocks and islands a little further offshore.

These amazing sportfish love to feed in the fast current so try to target them around big tide flows. Use big poppers first and then change to stickbaits if you’re not getting results. Keep persisting with it and move around the islands and you should eventually come across a big GT.

Reef fish like emperor, sweetlip and coral trout are also popular to target amongst anglers fishing around the islands using bait.

These fish can also be caught on jigs and soft plastics by jigging them around the bottom. Try it sometime while you’re bait fishing. Drop them down where you’re getting bites on bait and simply use an up and down jigging motion.

Try changing your retrieve from fast winding to small, slow jigs too until you find what the fish want. You might just find a good new way of catching reef fish.

Outstanding lures include the Shimano Lucanis Jig, Raider metal jigs and all sizes of soft plastics with a heavy jig head to sink down to the bottom quickly.

Peter Faust Dam

Peter Faust Dam, which lies inland from the town of Proserpine, is an excellent addition to the fishing options available in the Whitsunday area. This lake holds a large amount of barramundi, which are the main fishing attraction of the lake.

The lake also holds large sooty grunter. Although not a highly common capture, there is a healthy amount of sooties living in the lake and they are always an entertaining by-catch when targeting barramundi.

When casting and retrieving for barra, try to use a retrieve which makes the lure look natural. Imagine what a small baitfish would look like that is injured in the water and try to imitate that. An easy meal such as an injured baitfish is much simpler for a barramundi to catch rather than a strong, lively baitfish.

If using soft plastics, try to make the lure slowly sink, then give the lure a few small jigs to make it kick around and then let it sink again.

Use this retrieve technique between slow straight winding of the lure for around 5-10 seconds then repeat the sink and small jig retrieve. It can be a tricky retrieve to get use to but it works great for stimulating barramundi to bite.

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