Cold waters and hot fishing are here in the tropics as June comes around signalling we’re halfway through another year already. It’s been a year of mixed fishing in Lucinda the last few months. There have been some great sessions followed by slow frustrating trips where you’re left scratching your head trying to work out why the fish are not cooperating. But that’s fishing! If it was always easy everyone would be doing it and the fun and excitement would be gone.
Don’t be fooled and think it doesn’t get cold up here in NQ because it does. Early morning pre-dawn launches and evening runs, especially in fast open boats, will have you reaching for jumpers and jackets. But it won’t take long until you’re ripping it all off as bending rods and screaming drags tend to heat things up quickly. Here’s what should be heating you up during June in Lucinda.
The biggest thing that changes in the channel during winter is the water clarity. You will be greeted with very clear water that has amazing visibility – this looks great but makes fishing very tough.
Barramundi are one species that dislike the cold clear water and targeting them during the cooler months is very difficult. They become very slow and unwilling to feed as often or with much aggression. If you want to chase barra I would suggest picking your sessions very carefully. Choose days of little wind and bigger tides that create dirty water for them to hide and hunt. Pay plenty of attention to your sounder and finding spots with warmer water temps can make a lot of difference. Shallow muddy banks that have a big drain and lots of bait are prime locations for barramundi.
Deploying some live baits and sitting back and relaxing while you wait for the rod to bend is a very enjoyable way to spend a few hours.
You should also throw a rod or two out with a fresh bait of squid or prawns in hope of snaring some delicious grunter or fingermark.
Mangrove jack will still be causing some chaos in amongst the snags for those that love to throw lures and plastics about. The first few hours of the run-in tide are normally the best as the tide starts to push bait into the fronts of the snags. The jacks will be sitting facing the current waiting for something to come close enough to their lair. Make sure your casts are on the money, near enough isn’t good enough. Small ZMan 3’ MinnowZ rigged on TT SnakelockZ are the easiest and most effective way to use soft plastics for these brutes. They allow the angler to cast without too much worry about getting snagged, which means your plastic will be landing in the strike zone more often. This combo is perfect for kids and beginners, as well as angers that know what they’re doing. Having confidence in your casts is the key to improving your chances of getting mangrove jack.
This time of year is when things really start happen in the blue water. The pelagic fish will be in full swing and the baitfish schools are going to get a real working over. Spanish mackerel are the top of everyone’s list as they fight well and offer plenty of delicious meat for your freezer (and also the freezers of your neighbours and friends). Spanish mackerel can be found off the sugar loader jetty, islands, wrecks, shoals and the reef itself. Anywhere that offer strong current lines and bait schools will have mackerel in residence. There are so many ways to target mackerel but slow trolling garfish has proven to be the most effective. You can buy specially made Wog Head trolling systems that allow you to attach your bait and also has a head with other attractants to get bites. These rigs always have a wire trace attached as mackerel have serious teeth and will bite you off the majority of the time.
The cooler months mean the big red fish creep in closer and take up residence on small isolated rocks in the more shallow waters of the shipping lane. It is always worth stopping and drifting a bait over these small areas. The sounder doesn’t have to light up like a Christmas tree for it to have good fish in residence. These small areas normally offer the chance at one big fish – normally a nannygai or red emperor.
Now is the time to start chasing the small black marlin that hang around the shipping lane. Hopefully there are plenty of bait schools this year and heaps of marlin feeding up on the travels. Normally the fish are in the 15-40kg bracket, but I have seen one follow a trolled lure for a mackerel that would have easily been 150kg+. Small marlin are so much fun and using lighter gear offers a fight that won’t be forgotten quickly. Trolling skirted lures around bait schools and current lines is a great way to spend a few hours. Marlin fishing can be the most boring type of fishing until something happens and then it becomes the most adrenalin pumping situation on the water.
Having a plan of action for when there is a hook up is important. Clearing the teaser line and other rods needs to be done quickly while the boat is still always on the move. Marlin are so quick and keeping tight to them is not just up to the angler, the skipper needs to be on the ball. I’ve been lucky enough to get all my marlin solo, which was chaotic and a lot of fun. I am just a beginner when it comes to marlin fishing but finding the right bait school seems very important. A few seasons ago I spent over 30 hours working a particular area with abundant bait schools but saw no strikes but a small move found a smaller school of bait that had marlin all over it. This area produced five marlin boat side and several missed fish.
Hope everyone has had a great first half of the year with plenty of fish and fun. Bring on the cold water and fast fish.Reads: 1986