Well, here they are, regular as clockwork – isn’t it uncanny? It turns out we don’t even need EKKA to get the Ekka westerlies. These August winds bring chilly days and change fishing in the Passage and around Bribie. The breeze has usually been lifting through the day; and swinging between northwest and southwest. Around midday, when the wind direction might be changing, and the water has warmed a little, has proved to be a useful time to throw a line.
Ekka winds make fishing forecasting tricky and targeting of any particular species unpredictable. This is the start of the “between-seasons” period and every day can be different from the last. Windy days are not all bad – get up into Ningi Creek and the other estuaries, where fish are attracted to water that is stirred a little and you can use the wind to make a good, long cast.
The creeks have been the place to find the flathead, and they’ve been definitely the most consistent catch this month. The creeks are also a good place to get out of the worst of the weather. That’s what Ben found, when he spent a miserable damp and windy day, trolling a lure in Ningi Creek, which scored him a big flathead.
Warren, Melissa and the kids also sheltered in Ningi Creek, on a very windy day, and used a Z-man lure to land a flattie. Thomas and his Dad had the same good luck with a Z-man, catching a beauty, again in Ningi Creek.
Z-man lures have been certainly been making their mark with the flathead. But Tassie proved that any cheap soft-plastic lure can do the trick – he told me he just played around with a range of colours in paddle-tails, until he started getting bites. Three flathead all up, not bad for a windy afternoon!
We’ve had plenty of flathead brought home in the 40+ cm range, lots over 50 cm and the real biggies are out there in good numbers, too. It’s always nice to see the 60+cm ones go back in the water – they’re generally considered to be the breeders and are important for future fish stocks.
If you’re shore-based, then casting out lures over the flats is a good tactic, using the incoming tidal flow to tempt the fish. Turner’s Camp has been a great spot to stand at the water’s edge and use the wind to cast out. The same sandbanks are working well for flounder. You can pick up good sizes in flounder, during the cooler months of the year, and they should not be discounted, because they are an excellent eating fish – and easy to cook!
The neap outgoing tides over winter are usually a good time to try for tailor. Cold mornings are the best time and pillies or garfish have been the best bait. Watching for birds is a way to find tailor, feeding on baitfish. Look for flocks of terns hovering over the water and frequently looking down or diving into the water. The birds are feeding on the baitfish, which have been forced to the surface, usually by tailor. You can often see the flash of tailor feeding under the surface. The tailor have been a little quieter this year than last, in the Passage and out further, but the ones we’ve seen have been great sizes. Try a bit of night-fishing under the bridge, for some of the best tailor – pilchards have been the most successful bait.
Winter whiting have been easier to find, all through the Passage and along Red Beach, but many are so small that they’re not kept – even though there’s no size limit. It is hard to see the point, when you catch a small whiting, but usually where there’s one there’s a school of them. So popping it into a bucket of water will allow you to make a choice towards the end of your outing, if you manage to score a few more.
“Outside” has been very bouncy lately and not many reports have come in, but Troy did get onto a couple of good kingfish a few days ago, at Brennan’s Shoal, using live bait.
The closed season on Snapper has finished for the year, and there’s still plenty of time to target them. The ripples are a favourite local spot, just outside Pacific Harbour. If the winds drop a little, expect a few boats out there, towards the end of the month, when the tides are smaller. Choose a quiet afternoon, toss a little berley over the side and drift over the top of the tide – if you do want to anchor, remember the no-go area at Kakadu Beach and the no-anchor zone near the oyster regeneration project.