Mick Slade boated a decent local grunter on a soft vibe.

Cracking catches on Capricorn Coast

This month I was going to cover the Shimano King of Kings competition but unfortunately, I’ve run out of time.

Keep an eye out for an in-depth run-down next month.

For this issue, we’ll have a good look around at what’s been happening locally.

With the warmer weather, the estuaries have all been about grunter, fingermark, mangrove jack and barramundi.

Threadfin salmon schools have been a little hit and miss for the average angler, however charter operators such as Hooked Fishing Charters and Guided Fishing DownUnder have been able to keep clients onto big whiskered speedsters.

Lately, I’ve been lucky enough to see some fairly amazing sights when on the water.

I went fishing with a guru by the name of Mick Slade and what I learned in one day about grunter would blow your mind.

Some of the grunter schools would have had to be seen to be believed.

Alex Mapes caught a banger of a red emperor wide of Yeppoon.


Schools of 50 or so weren’t uncommon.

One insight when chasing grunter for me was that they do move about a lot.

Fish such as fingermark prefer to find their own piece of comfortable structure and that’s where they hang.

Grunter can be a complete pain in the butt to target when they are moving, though if you’re willing to put in the hard yards and keep your thinking cap on, the desired results will happen.

Grunter are just like any other species in that you have to find out what works on the day.

One day they will love soft vibes and the next it will be 2” prawns.

Keep an open mind and keep cycling through lures.

If you’re a bait fisho, looking for areas such as gravel patches or gravel ledges is a great start to soak some bait.

Dan Baker with a beautiful red emperor captured off Yeppoon.


As I just talked about with lures, vary your options.

If you’ve got four rods, then put out a live mullet, dead mullet, prawn and squid – you will quickly figure out what they want.

The Fitzroy River has been hit and miss, which is fairly common at this time of year.

The barrage gates have been opening and closing regularly, pushing filthy run-off water down the river.

Port Alma has been a much better option to chase a barra and the Port Alma side of Casuarina Creek has also been fishing well, when you can find the cleaner water.

Fingermark have been fishing fairly well and any of the locals in the know haven’t had to work very hard for a tasty feed.

If you’re new to targeting fingermark, my best piece of advice is to look for structure out in the middle of the creek.

Wrecks are a very reliable find for this species and even well-known wrecks will still produce if you fish them a little differently or at various times.

Ethos Weeding and a cracker fingermark managed from out the front of Coorooman Creek.


A fallen tree out in the middle will likely hold fingermark at some stage.

Generally, the last half of a run-out tide and first half of a run-in are ideal times for targeting these fish.

That’s enough for the estuary sides of things, let’s look at how the offshore scene has been fishing.

At this time of year, sharks are still running an absolute muck, so if they’re giving you a hiding, my recommendation is to move on.

Putting in the hard yards to find isolated small structure such as wonky holes and rocks is a great option.

They still do hold sharks at times, yet at a minimum compared to bigger structure such as offshore wrecks and pinnacles.

Just remember that isolated structure will hold a better quality of fish as well.

We’ve been lucky enough to pull red emperor and large-mouth nannygai up to 13kg from isolated structure offshore from Yeppoon.

One of Dan Baker’s deck hands snagged a solid night-time red emperor.


Speaking of reds, they have been fishing very well – when you can find a weather window in between the lows, cyclones and high-pressure systems.

Be careful when travelling, not only during the day but at night as well.

We are getting reports of floating debris such as logs slightly under the water line.

Most of the quality reds have been taken on quality bait such as fresh slabs of squid flesh and whole big squid.

The art of catching big reds is to use bait that the pickers can hammer without cleaning your hooks in a few seconds.

The pickers will help berley the area and all the commotion will alert larger predators such as red emperor of an easy meal.

You need to leave those bait on the bottom and not strike at the pickers.

This is the hardest thing to learn for anyone new to chasing reds.

You’re waiting for either the weight to come on your line or, if they are proper hungry, a good solid thud followed by weight.

Once either of those two things happen, strike as though your life depends on it.

Well, that’s it from me this month.

Barra season is back in full swing, so once I catch a swag of them, I’ll pick another species to chase.

I like the idea of catching my first tripletail.

Catch you and be safe.

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