A feast of diversity
  |  First Published: July 2010

Flathead are well and truly feeding at present leading up to the next spawning run.

They are being caught in the deeper channels at either end of a feature such as a mud bank, a sand bank or a rocky outcrop. The pressure wave in front of a structure can hold as many as the eddy behind the structure. The bigger fish hang in the deeper water off to a side as the tide drops, turns, then starts to come in. They also might move up into shallower water particularly on dark or in very quiet spots.

The smaller fish are all male and the larger models are the breeding females. The female flatheads continue to breed for their whole lives and the bigger the female, the more eggs she will lay, so it’s better to take a couple of males than a big girl.

Lures, dead or live baits all work well and letting the bait slowly drift down past the drop-offs and channel edges seems to do the trick most of the time.

Flatties are suckers for plastics or hardbody lures and will grab anything that goes past their nose providing there is not much work in getting it. In our generally clear estuaries the realistic prawn colours out fish most others. It doesn’t matter if it is a grub, a paddle-tail or a prong, if it moves they should grab it.

When the wind and the tide work together you can slow drift the leading edge of the tide covering a fair area as the system livens up. It also gives you a chance to look at the different features of the system from another perspective that you don’t quite get when you use an electric.

The horse bream over 1kg have come into prominence as the water temp remains on the cool side. The Port Alma area is our better-known hot spot, with at least a few bream over 2kg taken each season and snodgers everywhere else look like rats in comparison.

There are so many individual spots that I couldn’t get them all down, but the principles are the same anywhere. Get on the water as the tide starts to make and either put down a berley bomb or crack a few oysters just above the water level so they get a bit of wash over them as the tide eventually covers them.

This prompts the bream into a biting frenzy, making it hard not to get a feed. The preferred baits vary from fisher to fisher with mullet strips, prawns and yabbies the top three.

If you can anchor up just at the edge of the current and flick your bait tight up to the structure you increase the odds. More often than not the smaller fish move in first and the catch gets bigger as the berley does the job.

Though I have landed quite a number of bream on plastics in other places I can’t get them to work better than good fresh bait around Port. Connor’s Rocks and the old jetties moving into the river are other favourite spots.

The other estuaries also hold good bream, though not in the same quantities as the Fitzroy delta area. Coorooman Creek, the Causeway Lake and Corio are all worth a crack in the cooler months and the rock bars or mangrove banks are the go. These spots have yabby beds handy so fresh bait is never a problem if you get there before the water gets too high.

Whiting fishers are reaping the benefits of a better than usual run in different spots along the coast. The creek mouths and sand bars from Long Beach all the way up to Three Rivers have been fishing well lately.

King and blue salmon amaze me at their consistency through the year. They turn up regularly in many of the local creeks and in particular the Fitzroy River, through the delta system and the Narrows.

On several trips targeting bream in the creeks on the inside of Curtis we’ve been dumbstruck by the size of the kings that haunt the place. They were smashing prawns along a bank right next to the boat and weren’t the slightest bit interested in the offerings we had for the bream.

Some of these freak kings were more than 1m long and when the only stupid one in the small school took a dead prawn on 3kg the fight lasted to the first bend in the creek before the king won.

We returned with live prawns and barra gear for the next day’s tide and the school didn’t show, but we did get a couple of smaller fish at the beacons on the way back to Port.

The Town reaches of the river can fire up especially at night; around the bridges, rocks, boats and wharves can be red hot. When the prawns are on you have to work very hard to catch them on much else.

Blues have been around the Narrows and in the mouths of some of the bigger creeks. Some anglers argue whiting fillets beat nearly every other bait for blue salmon, which explains why they are present around the creeks at the moment.

Try whole pillies in any of the washy areas at Sandy Point and if you don’t get a salmon you’re in with a chance of a tailor. Each winter we get a few lost tailor appear up the beach and Farnborough Reef among the salmon. They end up at the Black Banks at some stage where a feed of choppers can be pretty easy to get. One or two small fish were taken in July, unfortunately we don’t really see the big greenbacks.

Another southern special that has hit quite a few of the closer reefs in small numbers is snapper. A couple of serious knobbies were landed at Fort Acre Paddock and Manifold.

We went for a run looking and came home with a decent feed of scarlets and half a dozen small snapper. They tasted as good as any snapper anywhere and when the snapper are on, it’s the one time I think how lucky the southern angler are who catch them most of the time.

The snapper come out of the deeper fern country as soon as we get the first cold snap. Try any of the local rubble patches or offshore grunter spots and you could nail a decent snapper, mainly at night.

Mackerel are increasing and the redfish continue to be in form. There are a few trout around the islands so get out there and enjoy the cooler weather fishing while we are enjoying a good year.

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