After a short holiday followed by a work trip, a persistent cyclone and an electronics refit on my Polycraft, it was refreshing to finally get back out on the water.
February is a wonderful time of year for fishing up in Weipa. It’s a time land-based bait anglers especially, rejoice – it’s grunter season. With the new moon darkening the night sky, the banana prawns make their run from the upper reaches of the rivers and creeks as they head for open water. Grunter are in the lower reaches of these systems in huge numbers feeding on the migrating crustaceans. The big tides are giving these fish plenty of water to get up on the flats and gravel beds where they prefer to hunt. Fishing fresh prawn baits on the early evening big tides is my preferred technique, but these fish have been caught lately on mullet strips fished on a falling tide in the middle of the day, so getting out there with a bait in the water will often be good enough.
As the water cleared from the strong wind and rain courtesy of tropical cyclone Olga, the fishing in the bay and on the open beaches fired. Reports of mackerel, queenfish and fingermark have been flooding through from the close reefs. I spent a little bit of time playing with schools of golden trevally that cruised through the crystal clear waters of the Albatross Bay beaches. GTs and big eyes as well as the odd snub nosed dart and blue bastard can also be found cruising the shallows.
All local fishing reports I’ve read suggest barramundi are biting their heads off, but this seems to be a generalisation for the time of year and not really the case. I have heard that some of the locals have been under the Mission River Bridge around midnight and doing very well, but flicking lures into the snags at the moment is hard going. I spent five hours doing that exact thing recently for four very average sized barra. Having said that, March is the magical month for barra in Weipa so things should start to improve dramatically.
Queenfish are around the points and anywhere that has clear water and plenty of bait. Small metal slugs or soft plastics worked fast will account for plenty of these acrobatic speedsters.
February is all about just getting out and putting a bait in the water. Grunter are the main target but the estuaries can turn up some surprise fingermark, mangrove jacks and the odd barra. A good friend of mine, Bec Howell, is pictured hereabouts with a queenie she landed while soaking a live bait at Red Beach. The close reefs can also be exciting so if you’re up here get out and get stuck into them!
Read more from Mark Ward in Wardy’s Weipa in Reports.