31
Jul

A plan was hatched to fish the last of the run out tide today in the lower reaches of the Barron River, then to head home. The wind was shifting direction a bit from SW to SE and it picked up to the usual gusts of late pretty early on. We decided to start fishing not far from the ramp and just flick prawns into the shallows and drift towards the mouth with the tide. Didn’t take long and I was connected to a fish that had me confused as it was pulling like a little GT then a jack and it turned out to be a small grunter. Finally I have caught one on a lure!

grunter

We drifted on and apart from some very small taps nothing was doing. We stopped at the airport lights bridge and jigged some vibes (an a piece of carpet) before getting bored and continuing the drift downstream. The wind started to pick up so I turned the electric for Redden Creek and we went to hit some snags. I haven’t been up this creek in nearly a year and a half and there really aren’t the snags there I had remembered. We spotted a small croc swimming just near the boat and he was camera shy, every time I got the camera out then turned it on, he went under.

There was a likely snag just off a nice back eddy out of the current and full of sticks that I kept doing drifts past and just as I went to adjust the electric something hit my plastic but he wasn’t very big and couldn’t make it far before I had him winched in. A nice healthy little jack that swallowed the lure, I didn’t measure him but he would have been around 35cm, maybe a touch bigger.

lil-jack

We then went down to the seaside mouth of Redden Creek as I was looking for some bigger snags and didn’t find any decent ones, so we motored back out and had a flick around the mouth of the creek and what little snags we could find.

I ran the electric motor over to a distant snag that looked good and planned to drift back across the others. We all deployed our weedless plastics deep into the snag, I drifted mine right into the snag, down nice and deep when I felt a sharp pull and solid energetic weight. This fish was not mucking about and it ended up being a tug of war for a moment with neither wanting to give in. For a split second I was thinking it was a barra because of the sheer power, but then it bricked me good, but I could feel leader on the snag and I was confident of getting him out. Out of the corner of my eye I heard Ryan yell, “Got ya” as this poor archerfish became airborne straight into the boat at head height. Ryan had a good hit and thought it had come back and gave it all he had, which was too much for a little archer. Around this time I asked Ryan to help out with the electric as I’d drifted onto the snag and was struggling to concentrate on two things at once. Almost the moment we got off the snag the fish swam out into the open and up popped a very nice jack. Once again I didn’t measure him but he’d have been about 46-47cm and quite a nice fish, he certainly wanted that lure!

jack-closeup
jack-side
jacky

We called it a day shortly after and got out the wind but it was a nice way to spend the morning and finally get out for a fish!

14
May

Ryan & I hit the Trinity Inlet with plans of fishing deep on a strange neap tide with no run from 5am until 12 noon. Just near the boat ramp I made the call to start casting some snags and we entered a small creek. Getting used to the electric was taking some effort and before we knew it a pro crabber sped past, way too fast for this small creek, so I shook my head at him and got out of there fast. We made the call to just keep casting at the edges along the main waterway as there were a few mullet around.

I’d just been telling Ryan which snags to target and how long it has been since I caught a decent jack since I mainly target barra these days. Then I put a decent cast in along side a nice looking snag and started a slow constant roll retrieve on a big paddle tailed plastic (Jackall 5.5″ Ammonite Shad) when suddenly a few winds in the lure was jammed. I knew it was a jack by the way it hit and was very fast in turning him away from home and ‘guiding’ him my way a bit. However the fish felt a little too big to be a jack and I started to think it might be a really fired up barra. It soon became a tug of war and I patiently played him out thinking large barra, but it took another sizzling powerful run falling just short of cover. Each run became shorter and eventually I noticed the size of the fish in the water. I was quite disappointed (still thinking barra) until I noticed a broad silver gold mangrove jack. Happy would be an understatement and I’m surprised I turned him on light gear and got him out of the snag as he was quite a brute of a jack.

jack-front

mangrove-jack

jack-rod

We continued along the same stretch and the mullet started thinning out, water temperature rose to 25 degrees and Ryan had a couple of follows from jacks on his fav little hardbody. Around the corner we noticed a very nice drop off from 2m out into 7-8m of water with a good set of snags at one end. We changed to weighted weedless plastics and Ryan caught a Toadfish (opsanus tau) which didn’t even warrant a photo – he was U-G-L-Y ! Ryan dropped a decent fish that put out a screaming run to nothing right beside the boat which was a shame because it was a good fish and I think we both would have liked to know what it was. I dropped two fish that felt fairly small like little estuary cod.

As we headed up past the snags on the electric, to come back and drift the snags we both noticed a commotion on a timber snag and saw some fins. Then the same fish flapped around on the surface again as if it was pinned somehow. Ryan made the call to go and check it out as the fins did look red. So we drifted over and sure enough, here’s a decent sized jack that had clearly won it’s freedom from another angler, only to become trapped in a snag with full leader and about 20 metres of braid attached to him. He was in good condition, so I netted him and Ryan took care of the lines and he came home in the esky for Ryan’s dinner. What a fluke of a find. The jack had a good set of shoulders and was in very good condition.

jack-ryan

mangrove-jack-ryan

So all plans of fishing deep were abandoned and we made our way up another typical Trinity Inlet creek. I was fishing another unweighted Jackall Ammonite Shad rigged weedless and Ryan threw on a 3″ gulp shrimp. While we were rigging up I was focusing on the electric and as my back was turned I felt a solid hit and turned to see a small barra swim off with the tail of my plastic. Bugger, dropped him. We continued on and I caught a little jack deep in a snag and put the brakes on fairly hard and pulled him out on the baitcast set up and Ryan caught a little archer fish.

archer-fish

lil-jack

So what was expected to be a slow day took a nice turn and the weather was amazing. Looks like we’ll be heading back Thursday for a quick hit and run session.

14
Feb

Hit a Cairns land based timber snag today to try catch a barramundi. Upon arriving I was greeted with near perfect conditions and nobody else fishing. I tied on what’s fast becoming my new favourite plastic, the Imakatsu Javillon swim bait. These things are all I’d hoped they would be, swim amazingly and when you pause them they glide down just like a real fish. A quick flick of the wrist sees them rise up then turn in a seductive way with a perfect sink rate rigged weightless.

I’ve only given these new plastic swim baits two good goes, one wasn’t in perfect conditions but still managed to raise a couple of ‘flashes’ from quite decent legal sized barramundi. They certainly do get the attention of larger fish!

Lightly twitching the plastic swim bait up over the snag, then pausing it created an almost feeding like action of a smaller bait fish. There are barramundi here almost all the time and it’s just a matter of coaxing them out. It wasn’t long before a couple of ‘flashes’ from nice sized barramundi started happening. Then while extra slow retrieving I noticed a rather large figure following right on my lure with the plastic bang on it’s nose. Less than 2 metres away from me was a metre plus barra just sniffing the lure. My heart skipped a beat (well actually several beats) as I just tried to stay still and avoid spooking the fish while still work the lure slowly. She didn’t even notice me as I coaxed her right past my feet gently twitching the lure, then at the last minute she decided, no, that’s not for me and turned away. I gave the lure one last sharp jig and like a rocket the big girl blasted back at it before turning away again. Devastated, I just stood there in disbelief at what I’d just seen. Even though I didn’t hook up it was still awesome and so damn cool to see such a large fish investigating a lure so close to the surface in plain view.

I cast that plastic swim bait around for a little longer before deciding to offer them something new and irresistible. So on went the trusty two inch gulp shrimp and just as I was tying it on two other guys arrived and started casting hardbodies around. It really doesn’t take much to put fish off and these guys moving around and talking defiantly had an effect on the fishing. Especially when there isn’t much run in the water and barely any wind. Nearly perfect conditions were fading fast and the sun was starting to get too high as well.

Then, just as the rain started, I erratically jigged the tiny shrimp deep into the snag, then up towards the surface, repeating the action in various areas near and around the snag. All of a sudden this beautiful little barramundi fires up and just annihilates the shrimp. Often smaller barramundi hit hard and fast, well this little guy was no exception and wanted this shrimp bad! With the drag fairly close to locked, he rips off taking about 3-4 metres of line before meeting too much resistance and turning back. He thrashed, ripping around and jumping a little before calming and I finally get his shoulders out and quickly lift the leader up and land him.

He was around 48cm, in good health and also tagged. I didn’t want to play around with him and the yellow tag, so I took two quick pics in the rain and sent him on his way. He had destroyed a heavyish tt jig head and I really need to find a stronger way to rig such small plastics. If a big barra hits I’ll just be smoked. I was using a St Croix Legend Xtreme medium heavy 6’6″ spin stick, Daiwa Exist Hyper Custom 2508, 20lb castaway braid and 16lb leader.

IMG_1111

IMG_1109

It would be nice to fish really light gear here but you’d just get blown away should anything near legal or bigger hit, and the tight structure leaves little choice but near locked drag settings. If that bigger fish had taken the plastic today it would have been an interesting fight, about 50/50 chance of landing her depending on which direction she took. It will happen sooner or later!

Having fished this same spot sporadically for about 1 year now, only just lately is a pattern finally forming. I was chatting to a mate the other day and with the exception of him and another guy (who I’ve dubbed the ‘silent assassin’) we have barely seen anyone land a fish here, let alone a decent one. I’ve seen hundreds of different people fishing here for around 5 fish caught, all undersized except one mangrove jack that was 35cm exact. A lot of the fish caught here are at night on live bait, but during the day it’s hard going.

28
Jan

Beautiful conditions today for barramundi fishing at the headlands and Cairns beaches all the way north to Port Douglas. 3.5 days to go until open season 😀

Picture 42

10
Jan

Belated post, here are some of the land based fish I caught around Cairns in December last year. Some nice fish caught, including a 48cm Jack + 52cm Fingermark. **The Barramundi was released (of course) and the only reason it was taken from the water – I was fishing off a bridge and couldn’t release it in the water! Barra went around 60cm+ (not measured for quick release)

{Still don’t have a proper functioning camera after the new charger blew up in Singapore, so not many of the fish caught were photographed.}




22
Sep

Last month was very quiet with many failed fishing trips, the highlight being fishing an entire day with live prawns for nothing. Another day we watched as a tinny pulled up to a bridge and the four guys caught over 7 barra in 30 minutes, while we settled for a doughnut on live prawns (same bait they used). To be honest the fishing was so bad I didn’t even bother going out that often, when I did, it sucked.

This month has been better and now the temperature has stabilised, the fishing just keeps getting better. I still don’t have a functioning camera and I’ve got pictures on other peoples phones, all these pics are iPhone ones and crap quality at that. Still better than nothing. Highlight has been my first barra after an agonising run of dropping them and a jack that just went so hard it was awesome, and a solid fingermark landbased! Mark and I had an amazing day up a local river and I’ve never seen so many fish in a day, let alone so many follows, swipe and miss and hits. It was going off, at one stage Mark had his retrieve so down pat (and the right lure) that off every third snag he was pulling a jack out that would have a good look at his offering. It was agonising but very cool all at the same time.

In October I’m going to Asia, so I’ll have a decent camera sorted for that. So rather than do a proper report, I’ll just post the pictures and a brief summary of what I can remember.

Cairns Inlet Landbased 1: 3 fingermark, 1 catfish, some tarpon, can’t remember what else. Live prawns.
Cairns Inlet Landbased 2: 2 fingermark, 1 sand bass, 5 grunter, 4 river jew, 2 sand crabs, 1 mud crab. Live prawns + pots.
Russell River: 1 barra (my first), 2 jacks, 5 tarpon. Hardbody Lures and the Barra on a plastic.
New Not So Secret Spot: 1 gt, 1 barra, 6 jacks, 1 fingermark, 1 milkfish. All hardbodies. More photos and video of the milkfish to come. Over 30 missed hits/follows/swipes, was a cracking day.









14
Jul

Went out to a local reef close to Cairns. Overcast and calm day on the water. While we were going trolling for Mackeral, they were too busy chasing a big bait school around and it was nearly impossible to follow. Instead we drifted the shallows casting small and medium sized lures.

Mark got smashed by a good sized coral trout that he just couldn’t stop, a different rod and reel maybe. He had no chance, but it was entertaining none the less. Would have been an impressive and big fish. He also had a huge hit while trolling, we presume it was another coral trout, this one bricked him before long and bent the metal bib on one of his larger ‘swains special’ trolling lures. Not the best day for Mark, but I think next time he’ll be better prepared!! He did catch a mother-load of small Dwarf spotted rockcod (wire netting cod) and Hexagon rockcods.

I mentioned to Mark that I was going to catch a coral trout as I haven’t caught one yet on a lure. I cast out as far as possible at the edge of the coral drop off and the lure got nailed. Feeling a good weight and the fish taking off tight drag, I went pretty hard on the fish. I don’t like being bricked on shallow reef, nor did I want to lose one of my favourite (impossible to get) lures. No less than 30 seconds after my initial statement I’d caught a bar cheeked coral trout (Plectropomus maculatus). Stoked! How good is that?

Bar Cheeked Coral Trout, Plectropomus maculatus

Also another cod, that I assume is a blue spot rockcod (Cephalopholis cyanostigma?), although I’m not sure as the flanks of it’s fins were not the right colour, but I can’t find anything closer. **It’s a Coral Cod (Cephalopholis miniata)!** I also caught a heap of small assorted rod cods, greedy little buggers can’t resist a paused lure sometimes and they will hit anything, even lures bigger than themselves!

Coral Cod, Cephalopholis miniata

And lastly caught a flowery cod (Epinephelus fuscoguttatus) that put up a hell of a fight for a small fish.

Flowery Rockcod, Epinephelus fuscoguttatus

Great day out on the water casting lures, perfect. Looks like we found some good spots and we’re starting to map out where the good coral patches are and areas that hold trout.

14
Jun

We went back to the Russell to toss some lures around snags with Mark. Getting colder and less action but still got a few.

Early morning Mangrove Jack

 

Sooty grunter.

 

Unusual catch, good fighter called for a much larger fish. Spikey bugger.

Football shaped Sooty, this guy was so fat Mark couldn’t believe the weight of him. Good fight too on 1kg outfit.

Sooty Grunter with a weight problem

Baby Mangrove Jack

Good tarpon on very light gear

Horse Tarpon

Decent sized Crocodile, not scared by us.

10
Jun

Went for a troll around Double Island to no avail. Mark caught a pufferfish on his Godzilla MD Lure. Couple of Jacks, trevally and a nice mudcrab up the creek. Good sized crocs too.












10
Jun

Mark (mdlures) and myself hit the Russell for the first time in search of a few fish to catch and release on Friday. We were both shocked by the excellent water quality and natural beauty of the area.

Not actually knowing where we were going, we followed the nearest tinny off the main highway and ended up at a boat ramp. Only problem being, we were not even on the Russell, but up the Mulgrave. So we journeyed down to the mouth over some very shallow ground and up the Russell, checking out all we could along the way. The Russell and Mulgrave are a twin river sharing the same mouth.

Most of the morning was spent looking around and being genuinely shocked at the brilliant waterway before us, as well as wondering why we were so stupid to have never fished it before.

Lots of photos were taken, and we felt more like sightseers than fishermen (apart from one little GT caught by Mark). The fish were not playing the game and it didn’t matter. Even the guides were having a rough time. We saw a ton of fish: jacks, barra, grunter, bream, bony bream, scat, jungle perch, something HUGE that looked like a jack on some serious steroids, fat tilapia, tarpon, schools of different types of mullet, and some we just didn’t know…

After exploring a stunning creek with crystal clear water, we ventured upstream. Taking in a new vista at every turn, we could have been in any tropical country, Mark was thinking PNG, I was thinking East Malaysia. True paradise.

The tide was racing out and the current strong. After getting far enough upstream (a fair way!) we drifted back down using the electric to hold on some areas for no more than a few casts, or to retrieve snagged lures, or fish.

Wasn’t long and I was onto a little Jungle Perch sitting in a front eddy off a snag.

Not far around the corner and Mark let out a good “Yep” and his rod was buckling HARD. Keeping its head up out of the sticks and finally under control, Mark excitedly started yelling, “Look at the colours on this Sooty” and sure enough it was a healthy Gold Spot Sooty Grunter. The colours of this fish in the water were totally different and what a pretty fish.

Taking a photo and releasing it we found ourselves sitting up against a bank in a very strong back eddy. We took turns at holding the boat under some branches while the other cast upstream into the eddy. It was a hot bite indeed with three and four hits per retrieve. As soon as the lure hit the water you got a hit, usually followed by one or two mid retrieve, then always a last on just before the boat, all in the space of 3-7 metres. “Yep, OH, Yep, OH, Yep ON” was heard a fair bit. While we caught a few, we certainly lost a fair few as well and tarpon were usually the culprits with their bony mouths and blistering turns of speed. After 10 of the hottest minutes of fishing the bite was over and we headed downstream.

Casting anything and everything, we tried both sides of the bank. Mostly searching for eddys that would hold fish. Coming across a section of river bank with slightly less current Mark suggested we make a move to the other bank where all the fish had been coming from, two casts later and I was hit HARD. Struggling to keep the fish up without breaking the leader, the fight was fast and dogged. I called it for a big trevally (GT) but I was wrong and eventually up popped a flash of red. “Yes” a nice sized freshwater Mangrove Jack!

Not more than 10 minutes later “Yep”, Mark was on. Another magnificent freshwater jack. We motored over to the other side for a picture and a fish near a nice looking stream running the clearest water you’ve ever seen into the river. As we got near I cast my lure over landing it within an inch of the bank near the undercut bank and slowly but firmly twitched the lure back hoping for a double. As I pulled the lure from the water another good sized Jack took one last swipe just missing the hooks. Bummer, nearly had a photo to remember. Mark’s jack was a nice fish as you can see in the pictures.

The next reach I caught another Jungle Perch.

As the sun started falling on the tree-line we decided we’d better get the f out of dodge as we had a lot of ground to cover and not much time until dark. The ride back was one to remember and ensured our regular fishing trip soon became yet another MD “fishing odyssey”. You see, Mark and I have a knack for making a normal fishing trip into something a little more grueling and adventurous. Beaching the boat nearly on dark in a river system that had shown up at least 4 crocs, including one total beast, getting into the water and pushing the tinny out was all we needed, but we survived (again). One of these days we’ll get a regular trip in, but in the meantime, it’s good to be able to tell the story and adds to the adventure.

You can see the look on Mark’s face as we venture up the last section of river in 1-2ft of water. Not the best way to end a trip, won’t happen next time though!