The cooler weather has certainly bit early this year in Mackay. Don’t get me wrong, our winter is still warmer than the summer of most southern states so I’m certainly not complaining, but one thing it does do, is dominate the species of fish we chase and sometimes the methods we use to catch them.
Barramundi (estuarine and impoundment), mangrove jack and threadfin salmon are some of my favourite species to target, however, they are certainly far more active in the summer months. You could still target them in winter by fishing shallower, warmer waters or around heat absorbing structures such as rock bars and bridge pylons or you could apply the “jelly bean” method and downsize your lures. Doing this will test your fish finding ability and persistence to the limits. You could persist with this and challenge yourself OR you could take the easy option and fish for what’s around - those species that become more active with the onset of the cool weather. Bread and butter species such as bream, whiting, blue salmon and flathead spring to mind immediately and are those species that most of us learnt to fish for as a kid. These fish (particularly flathead and whiting) are also excellent in the pan.
I will focus primarily on flathead for this article. Anywhere there are mud and/or sand flats, you will find flathead – it’s really not rocket science. They are great fun on light gear and are always willing to smash a small minnow or soft plastic. In fact they are so reliable as a target, they actually make the perfect fish species to target for those people who are trying their hand at lures for the first time and also introducing their kids into fishing. I’m sure the humble flatty would have been one of the first fish you remember catching as a kid. Another excellent facet of these fish is the fact you can catch them just as easy (if not easier) off the bank than in a boat. So they really are accessible to everyone.
When land based, I like to arrive at a location roughly 1.5 – 2 hours after the bottom of the tide. This way the water is rising over the flats and the flathead are moving up on these flats to feed upon the freshly inundated yabbie beds. This has certainly been an excellent time for me personally and has led to some great results. Fishing over yabbie beds will certainly improve your chances as wherever there is an abundant food source, the fish will not be too far away. If flathead inhabit the area, you will often see tell-tale signs from where they have been laying in the sand.
Small soft plastics and shallow running minnow lures will get the job done any day of the week. A heavily weighted soft plastic or a lure that dives slightly deeper than the depth of the water is a good option as they will dredge the bottom, stir up detritus and attract fish from afar.
When using these artificials your best option for a rod and reel of choice is a light spin combo. A 4-10lb, 7 foot spin stick matched with a 2500 sized Shimano spin reel loaded with 6lb braid is perfect. I choose to run a Shimano Stella 2500FI and it is seriously the nicest reel I have ever used. Although Stradics, Rareniums and Sustains are also great quality reels and are more affordable to many more people.
Don’t be bitter now the winter chills are upon us. Go wade the shallows with light spin gear and a handful of lures, catch a few flatty and have a ball!
Live It...Breathe It.... Luke