Fitzroy Flood Flourishes
  |  First Published: April 2010

We’ve copped a drenching so far this year compared to normal. The Fitzroy River is flowing steadily with the run-off from hundreds of miles inland and up north. Most of my fishing predictions have been washed out, but at least we are luckier than the poor buggers further north as it is only the fishing that has suffered not the entire community.

The continuing fresh coming from the still running off Fitzroy has had a huge effect on the smaller mackerel species, which usually start building in numbers at all the local inshore spots between the mainland and The Keppels. Sightings of large doggies and greys at some of the slightly wider islands could be a positive if the conditions improve as expected by the start of May. All the baitfish brought in by the flood-added nutrients will probably keep the mackerels and reefies around a little longer than usual just outside the bay. If the local bay conditions clear, the prospects will be a lot brighter.

Spanish mackerel are thick at the moment but can slow in quantity towards the end of the month, although there will always be a few around the islands and the wider shoals. The better mackerel fishers mostly troll big baits like bonito, ribbonfish, tailor and even just legal doggies to get the bigger Spaniards. But pilchards on ganghooks still account for a fair share of keepers, using a small pea sinker as the run picks up. We often float out a ribbonfish or bonito under a balloon set around 3-4m deep. That way we can get a couple of mackerel while keeping the bottom fishing happening. Taipans and Flashas top the lure effort locally, a fast jigged shiny is almost irresistible to them.

The majority of the good Spaniard catches are by guys that make an early start and have lines in the water by sun up. Mackerel seem to always chew best as the sun has its first peep. The bigger harder running tides always work best, over the top or bottom of the tide they may go quiet for a while. When the sun rises higher the mackerel go deeper and come up again in the late afternoon. Flat and Perforated isles, Outer Rock, Man & Wife, Barren and Liza Jane are all worth a crack.

On the subject of mackerel, ribbonfish and bonito have shown again and now is the time to start getting baits for later in the year. Ribbonies hang in dirty water edges and eddies around Ironpot and Rita Mada and The Harbour wall. Bonito prefer places with clear water and can often be caught around structures like bommies and headlands.

The Farnborough bommie is a great bait gathering spot although bonito and tailor can annoy the hell out of the guys going for doggies and greys.

Corio Heads can be special at times because it is a bit out of the way yet still easy to get to by tinny. When the bonito are at Corio Heads keep a few fillets for targeting big black jew at night. About four days before and after the full moon are prime black jew times. Our local spots are in close to Double Heads and Corio Heads. Keep an eye on the seas as the depth changes around the headlands can make the waves stand up and make it very uncomfortable to dangerous.

Jew are one species normally not effected too much by a small amount of fresh in the system although they will more than likely take a while to come back to the river end of the bay while the flow keeps coming. Huge black jew and some salmon were found washed up on the beach in ones and twos by Five Rocks locals recently. This is being investigated and the guesses are ranging from too much oxygen in the system to recent spraying by the forestry, no one really knows yet. I will keep you informed as things develop.

The reef fish specialists should be continuing the good form as red emperor, red jew, coral trout, sweetlip, cod, parrot and red throat emperor are starting their early run coming into winter. Fishing the reef patches starting in close to out wide have been producing quantity and quality. Just on daylight and when the tide was slowing have proven the best times.

Trevally and queenies can be caught any day on almost any of the beaches of The Keppels. This week some top golden trevally were landed at Pumpkin on the western side as the tide was coming in. Live baits were the choice option.

The Rosslyn Bay Harbour is the place for blue salmon as they follow the schools of small herrings and white bait that hug the shore line as they move north. The blue can come on around the creek mouths and the harbour where the baits come in with the tides seeking a bit of shallow water shelter from the aggressive predators outside.

The choice of gear is up to you. If you favour lures try using Flashas, Pegrons, Bumpa Bars or the old Wonder Wobblers. The guys that prefer bait scored mostly with pillies, greenbacks and yorkies. When the salmon fire you can get all the bait you need with a cast net in the same area. Salmon have come on in the evenings at the bluff rocks and the deeper gutters up the beach towards Sandy Point. Yabbies, pillies and beachworms are salmon favourites.

Bream and whiting were available along with the odd grunter, flathead and salmon. All the bigger estuary systems around the area produced fish and even with most anglers fishing out the front, the creeks still had a great deal of attention.

The beaches are rarely consistent except for small whiting, you never know when the big ones are going to turn up, but mostly it is a gamble. Sooner or later with patience the bigger fish arrive and then the wait was worthwhile. Salmon have come on in the evening at the bluff rocks and the deeper gutters up the beach. Yabbies, pillies and beachworms are salmon favourites.

The Fitzroy served up salmon, bream and grunter at a wide variety of locations from mainly the mouth area. Prawns and poddy mullet top the list of the best live bait, otherwise fresh frozen bait is okay, and herring, pilchards and even squid have accounted for a fair share of the fish caught in the river.

Barramundi remain in form especially around the town reaches. Coorooman Creek, The Causeway, Ross Creek and Corio Bay had plenty to talk about with trevally, salmon, bream, whiting and flathead.

Coorooman Creek was the place to go for big bream and grunter. Some of the better grunter caught at Coorooman lately have been 60cm+. Corio was okay, after such a bad start to the year it has shown a bit of respectability with trevally, whiting, queenies, bream and cod.

The Causeway as usual was not lacking in fish from bream and flathead to whiting and pike.

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