Shipping channel Bedlam!
  |  First Published: July 2010

There’s a certain vibe resonating through the angling community in Townsville at the moment, and it’s heavily focused around the shipping channel.

A brief stint of good weather finally saw many get out wide and relay a few decent reef reports in. Some excellent reports of above average coral trout have been caught around Grub Reef and also the Slashers group.

Interestingly enough, many of the reports have come from well known bait fishers who thought the time was right to give the soft plastic a go. Surrounded by heckling mates and a barrage of pointing fingers, old mate decided to square up with a 75cm coral trout. His first on a plastic and the last in his packet, as the rest of the crew demolished what was left.

If this sounds like something you want to try, then give the humble Berkley Gulp 7” jerk shad a go. Fishing between 20-40m I like to use a 1oz jig head as the presentation of the plastic is far more natural.

Obviously if the current is against you then look at a 2oz jig head, and for deeper water start with a 2oz and at worst increase to a 3oz jig head.

Another hint to be able to use a lighter jig head with a bit of current is to cast well upstream, in most cases your plastic will touch bottom almost directly under the boat. You will have far more success if you remain in close contact with the bottom and don’t be afraid to mix up your technique.

Another species to really stamp their authority is the much sought after red emperor. It seems they have moved well inshore of late with fish around 8kg becoming more and more common. Not to mention the much loved by-catch of the large-mouth nannygai, which have also plagued anglers of late.

For the land-based anglers, there has been some cracker winter whiting showing up at trademark locations such as Salmon Creek, Cungulla, Alva Beach and many of the northern beaches.

It’s been a great start to the season, with the elbow slappers taking preference to freshly pumped yabbies and peeled prawns. Remember to tie on a bit of red tubing, it adds a vibrant contrast in colour to the sandy bottom and may resemble a sand worm.

But the winner is…the shipping channel! This month should see yet another spectacular run of school or doggy mackerel as we’ve seen recently.

It’s one of the best seasons in the shipping channel that I have heard of for some time, with good fish consistently being caught week to week. Not to mention the many undersize Spanish mackerel blending in with the schoolies.

Be careful if you’re fishing with relatively light gear as there has been a few rogue Spanish mackerel around 6-8kg intercepting trolled lures, making short work of light outfits.

The best part about the shipping channel is that it’s a mere 5-10 minunte run from the coastguard boat ramp and it’s a great spot to safely take the family and hopefully put a few in the esky.

Best results have come from those putting in the time to troll hardbodied lures along the shipping channel and really concentrating their efforts around bait schools. These mini maulers do like a bit of speed so work your lures at around 6 knots; constant change lures until one gets some attention.

If trolling bores you to death then tie on a small metal slice and work the pylons from start to finish. As a rule of thumb many will start at the first tripod and work their way out, but there’s always a chance of catching good doggies along with a host of other species closer to town.

With slices apply the match the hatch theory. Start with slices around the 50-60g weight and slowly drop down in size until you start to get a few bites.

Avoid wire initially, yes you may lose a few slices but you will get far more attention. In saying that, if they are munching anything that hits the water like jellybeans, then use the lightest wire possible to save the remaining stocks in your tackle box.

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