Anglers are all in on Awoonga
The days are getting longer and that only means one thing: more time on the water. With the amount of fishing options in Central Queensland, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
The main talk around the town is that the mighty Lake Awoonga is back! There has already been a huge spike in people from as far south as Victoria coming to fish arguably the best barramundi impoundment there is. Awoonga is a very large lake with three main arms, the Boyne, Iveragh and Riverstone. At any given time, there will be concentrated fish in all areas, as well as in the main basin.
One of the techniques anglers use to target barra is the simple rolled paddle-tail. This method is tried and proven and is so versatile you can do it almost any depth of water as well as any structure, provided you are running weedless and vary the weight of your jighead to suit the situation.
Anyone that is keen on barramundi fishing usually has a swag of surface lures in their kit, as it is such an exhilarating way to chase these big animals. From anglers’ reports, the last moment in the afternoon right through the night and into the early stages of daylight is your best bet for throwing surface lures, and don’t be afraid that your lure is too big. Long rods and long casts will increase your chances, as when the fish are up in really shallow water they are easily spooked and even something as small as closing the hatch on your casting deck can shut them down. That goes with most fishing, although it seems to be more of a thing with freshwater fishing.
It’s not uncommon to find schools of 50+ barramundi throughout the lake but you won't be the only one that has found them, so a more subtle approach can produce results. Hopping prawn imitations through the schools has been very effective of late, with some anglers choosing to rig them weedless and add more vibration with an Owner Flashy Swimmer.
If you haven’t felt the power of a barramundi inhaling a suspending jerkbait on the pause, it’s highly addictive. Choose the best depth lure for the area you are fishing and you’re away! It pays to run a very heavy leader, as most of the time the hook-ups are deep.
Offshore fishing has been exceptional when the weather has allowed anglers to make the trip out. Tropical species love warm water temperatures so don’t just go sitting on a deep structure. Head up onto the top of the shoal you’re fishing or up the edge of the reef and you will be very surprised with that you can find in the shallower water. The build up to the moon is always a great time to fish the tops of the shoals, especially at night. Red-throat seem to be really fired up lately. If you’re out throughout the day, coral trout will be on the cards with early morning the best time.
As most anglers know, stick-baiting the flats has become very popular over the past few years and if you’re looking for a fishing style that gets the heart pumping but you still get to take home a feed at the end of the day, it’s the technique for you. Larger tides push the bait around a bit more and concentrate them to pressure edges of the reef, and if you find the bait, you’ll find the fish. It’s still worth putting your lure through sandy gutters, as you will often find schools of fish awaiting an easy feed. However, this is not for the faint hearted - you will need to set hooks and go hard because these fish still know where their home is. In the estuaries of CQ there is many fishing options at the moment, whether it be the simple drowning of a prawn chasing the bread and butter species to casting lures at a snag-lined bank, waiting for a mangrove jack to come and play.
Mangrove jack are well and truly on the chew with livies and lures effective in landing these estuary brawlers. If you prefer live baiting, a making tide over your favourite rock bar is always a good start. Soft plastics, hardbodies and even surface lures have worked well in luring jacks away from their homes.
Grunter are still thick throughout most systems, especially South Trees. It seems everyone has been catching them and it has not been uncommon to find schools of 20+ fish at a time. The making tide is a great time to target them, as they often push up onto the flats to feed.