Top Water Creek Action
  |  First Published: April 2010

Water temperature has a massive influence on the fishing and crabbing in May, and with winter just around the corner it is a great time to target creek species, like barra and jacks, before they shut down and begin to hibernate.

May is very much a transitional period in Bowen as the warmer water associated with summer and autumn begin to cool before dropping significantly as we move into the heart of winter. Surprisingly, targeting jacks and barra around the cooler periods or colder snaps of May is a very effective technique. It is almost as if these cold snaps alert the bigger predatory fish that winter is coming and entices them to feed before they begin to shut down. This combination can lead to some pretty exciting fishing sessions, especially if you get the timing right.

The other great news about fishing for these species in May is that they often move right up into the shallower water looking for warmth allowing for some great top water luring action. May is a favourite time for chasing barra and jacks on surface poppers and walk-the-dog style lures as the fish move closer to the surface to feed.

I’m sure every one has heard the old saying that it’s best to chase mud crabs in the months that contain the letter ‘r’. Well this couldn’t be further from the truth in Bowen with May being the peak month to catch a good haul of crabs. It seems the first of the cold snaps usually associated with the latter part of May tend to bring on an amazing run of crabs. It is not uncommon for crabbers to get their legal limit of ten crabs out of a single run of four pots. Bowen May mud crabs are renowned for their distinctive brown star shape under the body, which is a sign that the crab is full of meat.

Whilst all creeks will be conducive to some excellent crabbing, those creeks to the north of the Don, like Boat and Meatworks creeks, will be the pick of the spots. These creeks are easily accessible on a high tide and always produce the pick of the crabs for this time of year.

Creeks to the south, like Adelaide and Duck, will also fair well with those right down the bottom end of Sinclair Bay, Billys and Gregory, also dynamite for crabs. Even those creeks in town will produce plenty of crabs for those on foot and working the bigger tides will produce the best results.

Fresh bait is the key to successful crabbing and swapping over baits every 12 hours is imperative to lure in those big bucks. Throwing in a few pilchards is a good idea as their oily texture is a definite favourite. Taking a bit of time to construct sturdy bait boxes within your crab pots is essential, especially if the crabs are running hard like they do in May. A good bait box will stop precious bait from being destroyed by one or two crabs when you could possibly entice three or four.

Blue water

The latter part of May usually sees the subsidence of the constant run of big high pressure systems in the Aussie Bite, which are responsible for the strong south easterlies Bowen is famous for. This means there are plenty of opportunities to hit the blue water out wide and, whilst the inshore Spanish mackeral fishing is still about a month away, those willing to run out wide to the reefs, like Olde and the Wallabies, should find plenty of 8-12kg models on offer.

Trolling gar and wolf herring around reef edges is a great way to snare a few Spanish speedsters whilst floated live bait will also be very effective as well.

The long tail tuna will also be in full swing and if last month was anything to go on there will be some pretty good sized models up to 20kg on offer. These schools have been thick in the open water just off Holbourne Island and should begin to move closer into Greys and Sinclair Bay in May making them a very reachable target for smaller boat fishers who fish within the bay area.

The coral trout bite is usually very consistent in May and there should be plenty on offer for those able to run wide to the outer reefs. For those chasing the blue spotted prize a little closer to the shore, fishing big bommies, like Nares Rock off Holbourne Island and Phillips Reef near Abbot Point, will hold some prize fish. Fishing baits on the pressure points of these big bommies is a must as this is where the fish are likely to be.

Closer in, reefs like Southern Cross and the outer Murray Bay reefs will also be worth a fish for smaller boat owners and fresh bait and plenty of berley is always the best equation for successful inshore trout fishing.

The many islands around Bowen like Stone, Middle and Glouster always fish well in May for various reef species like trout, stripeys and tuskies and finding a reefy coral ledge that drops off into deep water is a great place to start.

Whilst coral drop-offs are pretty common on all these islands, finding the drop-offs that hold good populations of bait is key to fishing these island areas. These islands are also littered with plenty of protected fringing reef covered bays which also hold good populations of queenfish and trevally. Burning shad like plastics or metal slugs across the tops of the fringing reef is likely to end up engulfed by a slim line speedster.

These bays also hold healthy populations of squid that are great on both the plate and hook. Whilst they have been a little quiet last month the squid fishing should improve as we move into the cooler months.

What’s in store

There is no better time to be an angler in Bowen than in June. The cooler temperature brings calm seas, clear water, and the emergence of the big schools of spotted and Spanish mackerel.

The Spotties can be quite small this early in the season but they are still great fun to catch whether you are soaking a pillie, throwing a fly or even jigging a soft plastic.

The Spanish mackerel will be more prolific out wide around Holbourne Island and Nares Rock, although the latter part of June should see closer inshore spots like Abbot Point and the Gladiator producing plenty of good sized specimens.

Trolled wolf herring will be the gun bait and stocking up on a few in May is a good idea as they can get hard to get and quite expensive when the macks begin to run.

In the creeks, the jack and barra fishing will begin to slow significantly whilst the bream and whiting fishing should heat up. June is definitely a time to put away the heavy casting rods and pull out the light whippy rods, yabby pumps and small soft plastics.

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