Spring surface strikes
The weather has warmed right up and Lake Awoonga is absolutely firing! If you haven’t booked your holidays to get up here and fish the most stocked barramundi impoundment in Australia, you should.
Last season, heaps of fish were caught but seeing one over the metre mark was a very rare occurrence, whereas this season we have already has reports of metre-plus fish coming in and they are only getting bigger. Only a couple of months back there was a fish found floating that was over 1.4m! With the thought of fish potentially that big in the lake, you don’t need a better reason to get out there and take advantage of what’s on offer now that the saltwater barramundi are off limits.
Water temperatures are up, which means now is the perfect tie to target these fish right up in the shallows in the low light parts of the day.
This is when surface lures and plastics come into play, with frogs provoking a spectacular topwater strike. You will get to watch the fish travel metres, making a bow wave behind the lure before exploding over the frog.
When barramundi are up in the shallow water, they can often be quite timid and spook very easily, so when you are searching for these fish it pays to put in extra long casts in the hope that they don’t spot you before you spot them. Make sure you don’t land your lure right on top of them, instead aim for behind or even slightly to the side. During the hotter parts of the day, the fish are typically sitting a bit deeper where they can be easily targeted with soft plastics and jerkbaits, especially when schooled up in large numbers and their competitive nature kicks in.
The main estuary targets over the next few months will be mangrove jack, grunter, whiting and flathead, with barramundi in their breeding season. Mangrove jack have been showing up all over the place with many creeks in the region producing quality fish. When targeting mangrove jack, soft plastics in 3-5” are the most popular with my favourite method being topwater, especially first thing in the morning.
Grunter continue to be a main capture throughout the creek systems. When chasing grunter, it pays to use prawn imitations but you will catch them on a variety of lures. A making tide seems to be the best for grunter, particularly before the water hits the mangroves or structure you are fishing. Grunter are forage feeders so they make their way up with the tide. Once there is water in the mangroves, they seem to push right up in there, making it very hard to put a lure in front of them.
Whiting are always up there on the list of estuary targets, as they are great fun on light tackle with the kids yet the most experienced anglers can still enjoy fishing them with more modern style techniques. Fishing for whiting with surface lures has quickly become the most popular way to grab a bag because of how visual it is as well as the fact that it seems to filter out the smaller fish and leave you with better quality whiting.
It’s a great time to target flathead and with a little bit of though you can get great numbers. Paddle-tail and curl-tail soft plastics are still the most effective way to capture flathead, however sometimes it’s not just as simple as casting over a shallow sand flat and hoping for the best. Flathead are ambush predators so they often wait for the bait to come to them. In the Gladstone region, the time to chase them is as the water starts to fall off the flats and down into the gutters, as they lay there waiting for the smaller baitfish to come off the flats. Often if you are there on the low tide, you can see where they have been laying. If you can find that and return there as the tide starts to fall, it’s just a matter of finding the fish.
Offshore opportunities are still available with plenty of people getting out and enjoying the bunker group. Big red emperor reports have been coming through, and despite what most people think these fish have been caught on soft plastics and pitch jigs, not just bait.
Coral trout are in top numbers and should continue to fire, providing the weather continues to play the game. The best part about coral trout is they can be caught anywhere from a foot of water right down to 100m, making them a versatile species to target when reef fishing. They are also well known as one of the best eating fish.
Spanish mackerel have started to slow down as they main season has come to an end. However, there are still some good quality spotty mackerel being caught inshore around the southern end of the harbour and the north entrance.
Fingers crossed that November beings more chances to get offshore, as the fishing is exceptional at the moment.
For all the latest info on what's biting and where, drop into the stop and chat to the boys. The team have their finger to the pulse to what is happening in the area, and are sure to point you in the right direction.