The ceiling fans are spinning faster than last time and fish are playing the game much better. From all reports mackerel have been around in numbers, but there are plenty of missed strikes but lots are being landed. No one can really explain the reason for winding back half wolfies and gar, but there are plenty of people having troubles out wide.
Hardbody lures on the other hand have been staying connected much better, and are probably the best option. The 190mm Halco Laser Pro is again a gun lure for these speedy attackers, and the shallower model 2m diver can be trolled at a higher speed that its deep diving brother, and this seems to be the key to making that hook stick.
There are still some long tails getting around, but they’re thinning out considerably. Don’t stress, as these have been replaced by cobia in decent numbers. For big fish chasers there are still plenty of options. Live baits are the best tactical approach to catching cobes, but there have been developments in the lure side of things for those with big fish on their mind.
Halco recently released their new 7” version of the Paddle Prawn, and for anyone focussed on big fish, these things are a winner. I’ve only had one chance to give them a work out, but they work. Good mate Ryan Tully and myself went up to Lucinda for a quick fish before doing demos for the Lions Club Family Fishing Competition. We had no sounder or electric motor and still managed to tag nice fish amongst the pylons of the loading jetty. As one of us would cast into the danger zone, the other would control and manoeuvre the boat into an appropriate angle to tackle a hooked-up fish.
As is often the case with this spot, we lost plenty of lures to big fish – great fun. We tried to stop fish on 50 and 30lb gear. Using the heavier heads required to combat the current makes the paddle-tail work quickly on the drop. This is why you need to be ready to strike and wind at any stage after they hit the water. A procession of big golden snapper and golden trevally graced the camera lens as boats around us watched on with straight rods. These lures made us look good and are one of the easiest lures to use – perfect for a novice just getting into the plastics scene.
Actually, the camp grounds at Lucinda next to the water area are a perfect spot to base yourself. Small boats have access to the creeks close by and the jetty is only a very short run from the ramp. Creeks have good populations of jacks and barra and there are awesome grunter grounds a stone’s throw from the ramp. The offshore reef fishing is exceptional and only a short drive from Townsville. In the surrounding area, fish the Hinchinbrook Channel, affectionately referred to as the ‘Hinch’.
I’m impressed to hear the powers that be understand what this structure means to the Lucinda economy. I appreciate how many fishers travel to the area just for that option alone. So many artificial structures have been deemed out of bounds to fishers and it’s made a massive impact on who fishes an area and why, but the revenue raised locally from being able to access the jetty by boat has major benefits for the town.
The campground is well maintained and the management is customer orientated. They’ve even built a shed with sinks, taps and a freezer for fish frames to be disposed of. This eliminates the potential for anglers to dump frames at sea or in the creeks, as putting them in a bin isn’t an option unless you’re a big fan of glow flies and bad odour.
We generally get an unpowered sight, set up a tarp and table, get the Engel out and set it up with the solar power and battery pack, roll out the trusty old swag and hit the water. It’s quick, easy and the atmosphere is very relaxing for a large campground. I can thoroughly recommend a weekend away at Lucinda, but be careful, because many have come for a weekend years ago, fell in love with the place and now live there.
Locally, golden snapper are busting up plenty of anglers on lures. The most productive depths have been in 10-15m of water. Being on the water as the sun rises is a big part of a successful tactical approach. Often, the bite window is only an hour or so, and you obviously need to be there as it all happens. There are plenty of fish over the 80cm mark and I’ve seen pictures of metre-plus models already. These are exceptional fish – every year you see a couple verified pictures of these brutes.
Mackerel have been thick on some of the shallower grounds as well. I understand the following that macs have, but they’re just plain frustrating when they snip off your plastics meant for bottom species. Wire helps to beat the teeth, but your lures are often ignored with the addition of wire, so it’s a catch-22 situation.
Trout have most people talking at the moment – you’ll often hear of people bagging out in quick time. Ross from Ultimate Sport Fishing Charters has found some amazing new grounds. This very successful charter operation has consistent runs on the board. It’s nice to see the ethical approach that he takes towards the operation, as he limits the number he takes on charter to make sure his customers aren’t bumping shoulders as they fight fish. This eliminates many of the tangles and crossed lines that are part and parcel of having too many people on board. At 65ft long, his vessel would no doubt hold plenty more people than it does, but the frustrations and lost fish associated with an over-crowded deck are no issue with plenty of room.
Ross has just found some exciting new grounds and species that are sure to get the fanatical lure fisher frothing at the mouth. I’m going on an exploratory trip soon to see just what’s going on with some of these monster fish that have been smoking them. More on this later, but this could be an exciting new fishery made available to anglers very soon. Mum’s the word at the moment. Ultimate has also been cleaning up trout, reds, long-nosed emperor, red throat and so on, so any time is a good time to go out wide with them.
As mentioned, things are warming up now. Barra are doing what barra do, preparing for what is shaping up to be a decent wet season. Water temperatures are way up on last month’s, and at least 3°C warmer than the same time last year. Reports on barra are promising for the lead up to season’s end, so button up for the last month of barra season.
There should be some stonkers getting around the mangroves on the bigger tides now, and metre models can often be seen cruising the flooded forests of mangroves on the top of the tide. This is hardbody territory. The 105 Halco Hamma in liquid lime or gravy train colours are the go for me, and their strong action at slow speeds does the trick nicely.
All in all, the next month will be a cracker. Whack on some new braid and sharpen them hooks ‘cause this’ll be fun.
At this size, golden snapper take a bit of stopping. The 50 had to be dragged out to stop some of these brutes, but some were still uncontrollable on the 'come 'ere gear'.
Big Choppers like this 89cm model are around and really test tackle to the limit. The author’s favourite whopper stopper outfit is the Samurai Elevate 20-30lb – it can be used for hours on end without buggering your wrist.
Low light times called for a lure that stood out pretty well. Chartreuse and white are great, judging by the way this chopper took to it.
The new 7" Paddle Prawn from Halco has been cleaning up. Those who’ve got them now are singing their praises – a true big fish lure.
This young fella has developed into a competent fisher over the last couple years. If he wants to try something he does, because he’s quickly getting the runs on the board. One of his favourite test lures is the 3 1/4” Plazo paddle-tail.
Big goldens are hard to stop around the Lucinda Jetty Pylons. The author was surprised to find these tough fish are high on the table species list for locals. This colour of Paddle Prawn is a winner on many species, but might be a trout specialist lure.
Some massive queenfish have been getting around on the bigger tides and often intercept a lure meant for other species. This one grabbed a 4" Atomic Prong meant for a trout. They’re great fun when they decide to get involved, that's for sure.
Even chasing things like grunter with small lures, or using tiny stuff to see what's about, you can expect to hook some respectable fish. Boofhead had great fun on this barra with the light gear and followed it up with a jack on the next few casts.
When the waters aren’t as clear as you'd like, the pink 5" Paddle Prawn is a stand out colour and pulls fish in tough conditions.Reads: 749