The start of summer has been a bumper season for fishing, with a big variety of fish caught and plenty of impressive catches among them.
Last month, we talked about the steady weather conditions -these have continued to prevail over the SE. Daily temperatures have held, water temperature has lifted to 25 degrees and the wind is still coming from the NE.
The long spells of settled weather are good for making bream, snapper and sweetlip relaxed and hungry, which is good news for fishing. Some of the best fishing days have started with a gentle rain in the early morning, clearing to gentle breezes and clear skies. Lots of 30cm+ bream are being taken home on days like this, and from all through the Passage.
Daniel and Ricki had a good haul (three big bream, a grunter and summer whiting), again with prawns and yabbies, near Shag Island. On the same day, brothers David and Charlie, had seven 30cm+ bream between them, from a drift past the oyster regeneration project, outside Pacific Harbour.
A reminder here: please drift and don’t anchor in the area just north of Pacific Harbour – besides being the site of the specially built oyster cages, which can be easily damaged by your anchor, it is also very near Kakadu Beach, which is the summer resting area for thousands of migratory wading birds.
Chicken thigh fillet is a common summer bait for bream (maybe because too much was bought in preparation for Christmas!); whatever – it worked for Angelo and Mel, who caught three 35cm bream, as well as a sand flathead, while anchored on the sandbank opposite White Patch.
With fairly constant E/NE afternoon winds, boating has been a little uncomfortable further out in the bay and a lot of anglers have been choosing to stay within the Pumicestone Passage. And there’s been plenty to keep fishers busy here. What the winds have been doing, is sending a steady supply of natural bait into the Passage, which keeps the bream and other fish keen.
The southern end, between the lock entrance and Buckley’s Hole, has been a favourite spot for finding some pretty good-sized fish, including bream, snapper and grassy sweetlip. Pear used prawns to land a 50cm morwong just outside the lock entrance. Fiona also did well, catching bream on prawns.
Flathead have been harder to find than usual lately but there have been some “stonkers” taking a lure. The water being very warm, fishing for them on the sandflats is not always successful, and the best places have been the gutters, especially on a rising tide. The rain at Christmas mixed up the water enough to get the flathead going for a couple of days, and they were being readily caught on the sandbanks at the mouths of Ningi and Elimbah Creeks. Matt and family released a 68cm flathead, after catching it near Banksia Beach, just after Christmas, using soldier crabs for bait. Hard-body lures were also working well at the time, over the flats.
Another favourite over is the Venus tuskfish, and there have been plenty of them. They’ve been taking all sorts of bait, but prawns have been most consistent. The tuskfish is related to the parrot fish; a beautiful full-bodied fish, with white flesh. To target them, try for areas with a bit of rock or rubble.
A sturdy rod, a bit of trace and a small, strong hook, will help land the tuskfish. Tania’s crew caught four just north of Ningi Creek, using prawns. Other places holding them: on the south side of the bridge, before the Sandstone Hotel jetty, or in Wright’s Creek, on a rising tide.
A less popular fish is the slimy grinner and there have been lots of them about, too! “No good for eating, no good for bait” is the general opinion, but when Dennis caught one, using prawns near Bongaree IGA, he cleaned it and threw it straight on the barbie – “sweet as, and the bones were so soft, you just ate through them!”
At the time of writing, we’re all still waiting for the summer storm season to kick in, although we have been promised some excitement over the weekend (Jan11), with a bit of rain to follow. Keep an eye on the weather reports and be ready to strike in the couple of hours before the rain hits – when the barometer moves the bream should go crazy!