May your rod be bent!
  |  First Published: April 2010

The fifth month of the year has arrived and the temperatures are gradually cooling as winter approaches. The Whitsundays is sure to offer some interesting fishing throughout May with a mixture of angling opportunities on offer.

Inshore tropical targets

While the outer Whitsunday islands without a doubt hold some of the best fish in the area, the inner islands and mainland foreshores have all of the right features for great fishing.

We’ve had some excellent fishing moments using our tinny within 1km of the mainland. Our biggest GT from the Whitsunday region was caught just out from the Shute Harbour boat ramp and was more than 40kg. It was caught on a Nomad Dogtooth stickbait surface lure fished in tight along a steep, rocky point.

We’ve also had an exciting session catching a large number of 1m plus queenfish on fast retrieved surface poppers over a deep drop-off about 50m from the Shute Harbour ramp. We caught more than ten fish over 1m, including lots of double hook-ups and one monster at 117cm.

We’ve also caught decent mackerel, tuna, large golden trevally, barramundi, large mangrove jack and lots of other reef, estuary and pelagic fish in close to Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour. This proves you don’t need to travel right out to the outer islands to catch quality fish.

Where to look

The islands in close to the mainland are quite accessible with a 4m tinny, provided the winds are not blowing too hard. Try to find fish holding features that your target species might live and feed around.

If you have an understanding of the fish you’re trying to catch, it makes it a lot easier to know where to present your lure or bait.

Depending on the species, good places to start fishing are rocky headlands where the current is flowing, sand or reef drop-offs which have some shallows then drop off into deep water, reef bommies and rocky, coral flats.

Marina rock walls are also good spots to fish, especially if you see boiling or nervous baitfish in schools holding to the edge. There will usually always be some type of quality estuary fish lingering around the vicinity of baitfish schools, whether it’s a mangrove jack, cod, bream, fingermark or even barramundi up to large sizes.

You’ll also often see a pack of medium sized trevally or queenfish race in and grab what they can, causing a shower of mullet, garfish or herring as they leap out of the water to escape the toothy predators.

Impoundment barra

As winter draws near, barramundi in Peter Faust Dam will generally become less active than in the warmer months.

Of course, the barramundi will still swim around and hunt for a feed every day, but they usually back off from their heavy feeding routine from the warmer months.

Barramundi of all sizes are still readily available to boat though. If you’re willing to put in the effort, fish smartly and be persistent, you will eventually come across some good fishing action.

All of the common, well known techniques will work in May. Try these techniques and experiment with different retrieves, soft plastic weights and lure sizes.

If something is not getting bites, change to another technique or lure and try it out. This chopping and changing is a good way of finding what the fish want on the day.

Using weedless rigged soft plastic frogs can be a good idea to fish very shallow water. The shallow fringes of the lake are often full of weeds, small bushes and timber – places where open-hook soft plastics or diving hardbodies struggle to swim well.

These frog soft plastics are rigged weedless by hiding the hook point inside the material. When a barramundi’s jaws strike the frog, you need to set the hook very hard to pull the hook point out of the plastic and through some part of the barra’s hard mouth.

Barramundi are not generally highly accurate when taking a bait moving at speed from the surface. This, combined with the closed hook point of the frog, makes the landing rate fairly low using these lures.

It can be a very fun way of fishing though and it’s easy to retrieve a frog – just cast it out over your selected area and wind fairly fast to keep it swimming on the surface.

Its tails will gently vibrate and create a small wake. If an active, shallow water barramundi notices this as it swims past above their eyes – boof!

If you’re fishing Peter Faust Dam and need some lures or gear to fish the lake, drop by Proserpine Bait and Tackle. Lindsay Dobe owns the tackle shop and also operates excellent guided tours on the dam.

If you’re in Airle Beach, check in and see Bob Spees from Whitsunday Fishing World. They have all of the latest fishing gear and advice on what’s biting in the waters of the Whitsundays.

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