Over the past month, the weather has played the game. There have been a few more opportunities to head wide and locals have taken advantage. Spanish mackerel are still a prime target this month, as they have been showing up in decent numbers.
With the kind of weather of late, lots of reports have been coming in of quality red-throat and tuskies around Rock Cod Shoals, as well as Masthead Island. This winter has to be one of the best I have seen for coral trout, especially for those fishing Douglas Shoals and Sykes Reef. The by-catch has been quality too, with some beautiful red-throat, spangled emperor, and even red emperor. Reports from the wider shoals such as Innamincka, Haberfield and Guthrie are red-hot, with heaps of school size red emperor and a few larger ones, and all the red-throat out that way have been huge with some making it over the 60cm mark.
Snapper have shown up closer to the coast, with larger models being caught around Bass Shoals, 12 Mile and Jenny Lind Bank. School mackerel have been plentiful of late, with the hotspots being Turtle Street, Turkey Beach and around Seal Rocks. There are many ways to catch these fish, including casting metal slugs, trolling hardbodies and the old faithful floating of ganged pillies. The wrecks have been fishing well, producing beautiful cobia, nannygai, grunter and all sorts of trevally species if you’re just after some fun throwing plastics, vibes and jigs.
Queenies should start to fire up any time now. The bigger tides are always favourable, with bait around the current lines. You just have to get a feel for what they want on the day, whether it is poppers, stickbaits, jigs, vibes or plastics. Topwater is the best way to target these fish and a great location is around Farmers Reef, especially on a making tide with clean water pushing in.
Blue salmon are in abundance around the gutters and up on the flats. If fishing neap tides, your best bet is to find congregated fish in the deeper water throughout the harbour, and if you are fishing building tides, push up onto the flats where the salmon can be sight fished in as shallow as 30cm of water. Shallow hardbodied lures usually produce in this situation, especially if you use a nice erratic action the salmon cant resist. While targeting salmon, you can also find flathead and grunter right up in the shallows, and they’ll both eat a lure worked past their nose.
The deeper structure in the harbour is always worth a look, as you never know what will show up next. You can expect golden snapper and black jewfish at least. The bung walls are the perfect ambush point for the many predatory species, so fishing these can be very effective with a trolled hardbodied lure or a hopped vibe or plastic. The channel markers at the southern end of the harbour are a great place for targeting grunter and jew, with some beautiful fish on the neap tides when there is a little bit less run, as it flows through there quite hard.
The estuaries are fishing well in the cooler weather, especially the Calliope around the hot water outlet. Monster queenies have been caught on poppers and there have been big barra available if you tempt them to bite. Live baits and well-presented strip baits can quickly become the undoing of barramundi. While you are targeting them, there is endless by-catch of flathead, salmon and grunter.
Toolooa Bends (South Trees Inlet) is on fire with grunter, with models up to 75cm a common capture. Let me tell you, they would have to be one of the most underrated fish in the estuary. They seem to do everything right - they pull hard, will eat lures and bait, and last of all, taste unreal!
If its the bread and butter species you’re after, look no further than the Colosseum, as there are endless sand flats and yabby beds that hold good whiting all year round, as well as some beautiful flathead and big bream in winter.
At the moment, Turkey Beach and Pancake Creek have good numbers of flathead, which are a great target species for kids right through the avid angler. Sight fishing for flatties is awesome fun, even more so when you can get right up in the shallow water (anywhere less than 1m) and target them on surface lures such as fizzers and poppers. When it comes to targeting flatties, there is no lure too big. In some situations down south, they throw 250mm swimbaits for larger fish.
Even though we are in the middle of winter, there are still anglers out there testing their luck to capture the mighty Awoonga barra. At the moment, the best times seem to be on the build to the full moon when the fish become more active, and in the afternoons once the sun has had a chance to warm the water. Another effective way to target these iconic sportfish is to chase the more stable water temperatures in deeper water and sit over the top of them using vibes, prawn imitations and even jigs.
For all the latest info on whats biting and where, drop into the shop and have a chat to the boys! The team have their finger on the pulse to what is happening in the area, and are sure to point you in the right direction.