Fingermark have been common, and Sam scored this one on a Zerek Fish Trap in the Calliope River.

Plenty of options for a festive fish

Phil had a little luck chasing tuskfish, this one took a vibe.
Sue-Ellen found a few black jewfish around recently. Remember they are a no take species until next year.

WELL, it’s that time of year again when the jolly old fellow in red will soon be around to see us. Many people have their annual holidays around this time, and this causes the waterways to become extremely busy over the festive season. Festive fish

For many, this can be one of the few times their boat sees water during the year, so my recommendation is to do a few basic checks at home before heading to the boat ramp. These checks could save you embarrassment and frustration – if you drop the boat in the water and it doesn’t start or worse, a dodgy wheel bearing may be the cause for not getting to the ramp at all.Festive fish

Boat ramps will be busy, and people will need to be patient with others who aren’t as quick as they are, though a helping hand can get things moving quickly. Make sure your boat is ready to go when waiting in line to put in or retrieve. The top of the ramp is not the place to be unstrapping and getting your boat ready.

If you do this, you could hear a few unfriendly words meant for your ears. With the additional traffic on the water, you may find fish a little more reluctant to bite or that you’ve been beaten to the spot you want to fish. During this time of year, I prefer to fish early in the morning, late in the afternoon and into the evening, as this will see less boat traffic and fish more willing to feed.Festive fish

On the fishing front, Awoonga Dam is firing, with multiple barramundi per session the norm and sessions of over 10 fish becoming more common. The fish have been of good size too with plenty in the high 80s, and a few unstoppable fish running anglers through the timber. These fish will continue to grow quickly and fish over the magic 1m mark will be more frequent as time goes on.

Fishing topwater early in the morning, late in the afternoon and into the night is an awesome way to target barra, with loud visual takes to get the blood pumping. As the sun gets higher, try to fish slightly deeper with weedless soft plastics, hard-bodies or vibration lures. In the rivers and creeks, mangrove jack will fire up with the warmer temperature and bite better early morning and late afternoon.Festive fish

Heavy structure, whether it’s fallen trees, rock bars or artificial, will hold better numbers, though don’t ignore smaller isolated structure because these will commonly hold bigger lone fish. When fishing structure, concentrate most of your efforts on the pressure points, as fish sit facing into the current waiting for the bait to get pushed to them.

Surface poppers and stick baits can be dynamite when fishing fast structure with strong current pushing through it, and a surface lure will allow you to get right to the back of the snag and pull it across the top. By speeding up your retrieve, you’ll get jack into reaction mode and a weedless soft plastic worked a bit quicker across the face of a snag will work well.Festive fish

The ever-present fingermark will still be around but in deeper water and fishing where the current has been disturbed by structure will give the best results. This could be bridge pylons, headlands or submerged rock bars but anywhere out of the current could hold fish. A live herring, mullet or prawn won’t last long if they’re around in these spots, so try using a paternoster rig to keep the bait slightly off the bottom and moving in the current.

Blue salmon will be around in smaller schools and deeper water will hold more consistent numbers, with the harbour the best option. Targeting threadfin salmon at Port Alma and in the Fitzroy River will be a great option, with both areas holding large schools of good-sized fish. Bulky fish tend to come from the Port Alma area, with bigger schools haunting the city regions of the Fitzroy.Festive fish

Port Alma offers a few other species such as black jewfish, fingermark, grunter and blue salmon that are not overly common in the Fitzroy River. Both areas hold great numbers of barramundi too, so if you do hook one by mistake, treat these fish with care and release them quickly. Small queenfish and trevally will be harassing bait in the Calliope and Boyne rivers – these are great fun to chase on light tackle and small lures.

Flathead are biting strong but don’t expect to catch to many large models. Plenty of mid-sized flatties can be found for a feed. Crabs will get a lot of attention for Christmas, so plenty of pots will be in the systems. Unfortunately, there are more and more grubs share farming now.Festive fish

Not only are they checking pots, but they’re also either taking them or just destroying them, so you can’t use them. Hopefully, we receive more rain to give the systems a good flush and to get crabs and bait moving. Remember, it’s going to be hot out there, so pack plenty of water and cover up from the sun, don’t drink and drive, and enjoy the Christmas period.

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year from Gladstone.

About Gary Churchward

Gary Churchward

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