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Fishing report

16/July/2021

I am away fishing north of Weipa at the moment, so this report will be a little different, with my Manager, Derek, filling you all in on what has been happening on the fishing front at the end of the report.

We are now starting to get into the better weeks for Spotty and School Mackerel and, depending on how good the season is, they will start to turn up in large numbers over the next week or two.

Often the grounds wide of the northern end of Dunk Island and the shoals in the shipping channel will fish better during the early part of the season, (the first half of July). The larger schools tend to congregate at the various grounds wide of the north and south Barnard and usually start to fish during the second half of July and can remain at times to mid-August. This is quite a large area, so look for the clustered boats. These grounds can really turn it on at times, and, when this happens, anglers need to use moderation and just take what they need, as bag limits apply and usually Fisheries’ officers are present, either at sea or at the ramp, so stick to the rules and make certain your safety gear is up to scratch.

These school Mackerel need to be handled carefully as they bruise easily and the quicker you can put them into an ice slurry the better. I like to kill, bleed, and remove the slime coating from the fish with a rag, then immediately put them into an ice slurry. I also make certain that the fish can lay flat in the esky, as if you have to straighten the fish out for filleting, you will destroy the fillet. When arriving home, I try to fillet the fish with the minimum amount of handling and then cryovac the fillets. These frozen fillets will remain in excellent condition for weeks. I actually prefer Spotties for eating quality, to Spanish Mackerel.

Years ago, when the fish numbers were greater and the fish not so wise, you could catch schoolies on just about anything, however now the pilchard needs to look far more natural. If using wire, keep it to a minimum, no more than 15cm. Gang hooks with or without wire are normal, however if the mackerel are being timid, try a single hook in a cube of pilchard. If they start biting properly and it gets bitten off, change up to gangs again.

Although the emphasis at this time of the year is on Mackerel, the tides this weekend are perfect to chase Mangrove Jack or Barra in the estuaries. The neap tide is enough to have water clarity, but there is enough run in the tide to get the fish biting. I like either side of the mid-morning low. Another option would be to fish for Bream and school Grunter during the run-in tide. Try the rubble patches in the rivers or along the edges of the sand bars and deep holes at the mouth of the creeks. I like that hour or two before the top of the late afternoon high tide.

Good Fishing

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