Creek Capers Continue
  |  First Published: October 2009

The waters around Bowen have continued to be extremely productive for anglers this past month, especially in the estuaries, where the fishing has been absolutely sensational for both bait and lure fishers alike.

The combination of warmer than average water and air temps throughout September has proven conducive to some exceptional estuary captures throughout all systems both north and south of Bowen, suggesting we may be in for an excellent barra and jack season.

The first week in September was particularly exceptional for barra and jack fishers, who took full advantage of the excellent tidal and moon phase conditions to land some absolutely cracking trophy fish. Lure fishers in particular found these environmental conditions perfect for snaring elusive barra and jacks with the afternoon evening bite proving red hot, especially for those dirty fighting red fish.

Traditionally, the jacks have always been a little shy this time of the year with plenty of casts and lure changes required to entice fish out of their snags. However, this year has proven to be quite the opposite with fish completely mauling anything that comes within distance, sometimes even attacking lures well and truly out of the strike zone.

While quality has been down with plenty of undersized fish falling victim to artificial baits and plastics, there are still some absolutely thumping, braid ripping, treble bending jacks caught.

Most medium-sized hardbodied lures have been effective. Reports from the lure brigade indicate dark and green colour patterns have been the most successful in clear water, and the red and white Qantas colours has been slaying fish in the dirty water.

The jacks in particular have been sitting quite high in the snags and sight casting to fish has been a common affair. As usual these fish are showing no quarter and there have been plenty of lures and fish lost over the past month. The soft plastic brigade have also been taking their fair share with 4” Gulps and prawn imitations in pumpkin seed on light jig heads have been the downfall of many good jacks.

There have been several barra catches throughout the creek systems with plenty of undersized fish being caught. This is a great sign for the months to come when these smaller rats put on a bit of size and weight and stretch the measure past that magical 58cm mark.

Live baiters have definitely been snaring the bigger jack and barra models, especially during the large tidal runs at night. Live mullet fished directly at snags using as little weight as possible has been the most effective method.


Out on the blue, the massive mackerel season we have had this year has started to taper off with the mackerel patches slowing down in a big way with the onset of the warmer weather.

Spaniards are still being caught out wide around Holbourne Island and around Camp Island to the north, but they are not as plentiful as they were last month.

The coral trout on the other hand have been jumping all over baits on both inshore and offshore reefs. There seems to be a glut of smaller fish at the moment though there have some been some great-sized bar-cheek trout caught off Southern Cross Reef and around some of the local islands. Surprisingly, some of the local wrecks have also been producing some great trout as well from the deep water.

Looking ahead

Looking ahead into next month, the estuary fishing should continue to produce quality mangrove jack and barramundi captures for lure and bait fishers.

The combination of warmer water temps, the onset of the afternoon storm season and an increase in humidity, should see action in the creeks really fire up with bigger and better quality fish on offer as the smaller fish which are around this month put on a bit of girth and weight.

The best fishing will be several days before and after the full moon but never discount an afternoon or early morning fish especially if there are a few storms around.

Don’t be surprised if prawns turn up as well especially if we get a bit of rain, with most creeks already showing very healthy populations of small prawns. The best time to target these will be around the new moon when they tend to move around a bit more.

On the bluewater, the Spanish and spotted mackerel season should well and truly be finished. However, next month spells the arrival of the longtail tuna schools and don’t be surprised if the doggie mackerel and wolf herring schools turn up early around Greys Bay and the Bowen Boat Harbour. Keep an eye out for working birds, which are always a great indication these fish have arrived.

Next month should continue to see excellent catches of coral trout and other tasty reef fish as we move closer to their spawning periods. Blue tuskfish should also be around in better numbers as well as they also become very active around this time of year.

The prize target species for next month will surely be the fingermark or spotted scale sea perch. These fish seem to come on the bite heavily during October and November especially at night around many of the local jetties and wrecks.

Next month will be an awesome time to tackle some great fish especially in the estuaries and if you have never tried soft plastic fishing this will be a great time to have a go.

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