Best of Both
  |  First Published: July 2010

It is always a special time of the year when you have a combination of exceptional blue water and estuary fishing both on offer. In fact, it can make life pretty difficult for the Bowen angler with so many outstanding options to choose from.

August provides a tantalising mixture of cold water pelagic fishing while at the same time seeing the re emergence of those iconic creek species as temperatures begin to warm up.

The inshore blue water fishing will be well and truly dominated by the spotted mackerel, which by August will be well fed and quite broad across the shoulders, making them a challenging species to target on light gear.

The mackerel patches out from Greys Bay ramp will be the place to specifically target these fish. They will pretty well spread throughout the entire Bay and its many islands so it’s always a good idea to put out a floating bait while bottom bashing for reef dwelling species. Live fusiliers are an excellent choice as floating bait and will also attract the attention of the bigger Spanish mackerel that are also well spread through Bowen waters in August.

This time of year always produces the best quality Spanish mackerel in Bowen waters, especially right in close giving small boat owners the opportunity to tangle with XOS Spanish. Slow troll large gar and wolf herring baits on dusk and dawn around current affected spots. The exposed pinnacle at North Head is a favourite XOS Spanish spot for locals and rarely disappoints when you get the variables and timing right.

If you are after the tastier reef species, the warmer temps associated with the latter half of August seems to bring the coral trout on the bite, which is great news for those keen to bottom bash baits around the many islands and shoaly reef spots.

Large isolated bommies found off the fringing reefs around Glouster, Middle, Stone and Lighthouse Island is a great place to find these fish, which often sit facing the current or pressure points of these structures. It is not uncommon to land several trout off the one bommie, so taking your time to get the hang of the boat right and baits in the ideal position is vital.

This strategy can also be used on the inshore reef spots like Southern Cross Reef, which is littered with big isolated bommies. By-catches of sweetlip, tusk fish and the other usual reef species can also be expected.

If you are not afraid to delve beneath the water, then August is one of the best months to target painted and ornate painted crayfish, which seem to be in abundance. While they are occasionally caught on the line at night, the best way to catch these crustaceans is to snorkel the shallow reef areas around the islands of Bowen and look for large black feelers protruding out of rocky weedy crevasses and coral bommies. Painted crayfish are commonly found in areas only 1-2m deep, which makes them easy to spot and retrieve. Just make sure you have a good set of gloves as they are quite spiky. It is worth the effort as they taste sensational on the plate.

August has much to offer on the blue water front, and it also heralds the re emergence of the predatory creek species, in particular the mangrove jack that have been tentative to feed over the colder months. As we move closer towards the end of August, these fish definitely become more active in the creeks and can be consistently targeted by lure and bait fishers alike. Jacks are more commonly found in the shallower, warmer waters this time of year and shallow running minnow style hardbody lures and surface lures are ideal for enticing a strike.

The creek systems north of the Don River will be the best option for those lure and bait fishers and also contain very good populations of bread and butter species like bream and flathead.

a Look Ahead

As water temperatures begin to heat up so will the jack and barra fishing in the creeks, which is great news for those frustrated lure fishers like myself who have been itching for a more consistent bite.

Most importantly, September means one thing in Bowen – the annual Bowen Wet Weekend Fishing Classic. The Bowen Fishing Classic is a highlight for many local and out of town anglers and is always a great weekend to wet a line and chance your angling ability to win many of the great prizes on offer.

You don’t even have to wet a line to win the major prize and with a fully decked out Ally craft 485 boat worth over $30,000 on offer it is one competition not to be missed.

Hope to see you all there!

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