If in doubt throw it
STIFF mid-week winds and sloppy seas giving way to boatie-friendly conditions today and extending well into the new week might bring nothing more than false hope to the keenest reef fishers.
The first of two Coral Reef Fin Fish Closures begins immediately past the stroke of midnight Saturday evening (tomorrow) and extends until midnight Thursday, October 7.
And more eminently predictable than the weather, is the sensational weather forecast, most agencies telling of light winds and slight seas for the entirety of this five-day intermission.
The taking of all prescribed coral reef fin fish including popular species like coral trout, most cods, sweetlip, tropical snappers including nannygai and red emperor, fusiliers (popular live baits), parrot fish, surgeon fish and wrasse, will remain prohibited during this period.
The intention of the closure, surrounding the new or dark moon, is to protect aggregations of spawning reef species at a time when they might be at their most vulnerable.
The closure spans the entire Great Barrier Reef Marine Park from the tip of Cape York to Bundaberg and is in place to protect reef fish when they are at their most vulnerable and easily caught by both recreational and commercial fishers.
The eastern boundary of the closure is similar to the eastern boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
The second and final Coral Reef Fin Fish closure extends from Tuesday November 2 until Saturday November 6.
Further information regarding the coral reef fin fish closure, prescribed and regulated species – and other closures, can be found at www.daf.qld.gov.au
Fingermark or golden snapper might prove a primary target during the closed fin fish period, should marine forecasts come to fruition and allow anglers to fish popular headland, island and inshore shoal areas.
The species is one of just a few Lutjanids or tropical snappers to escape the ban prohibiting the capture of most popular deep inshore, shoal and reef species.
Gold and black spot cod can be taken, along with grass emperor, while lesser palatable species like slatey bream or painted sweetlip remain protected as a prescribed Coral Reef Fin Fish species.
Mangrove jack, often referred to as red bream, can be taken during the closure despite the species also belonging to the Lutjanus family and one regularly encountered at shoal and reef hotspots.
The species list of Coral Reef Fin Fish is a ripper as far as size goes and it’s one that I reckon, might not be easily interpreted by many anglers.
Simply, if in doubt – throw it back.
BARRA CLOCK TICKING
With just a little over four weeks remaining of the Queensland East Coast Barramundi Season 2021, local anglers best be sharpening hooks and testing knots as waters warm and the revered sport and table fish begin to bite.
The November 1 season closure gives east coast anglers a little time to put a wild barra or two in the freezer, while those fishing Carpentaria Gulf waters have just a few days with the far northern barra season slamming shut on Thursday October 7.
Both barra fisheries will reopen to commercial and recreational fishing on February 1, next year.
Anglers are reminded that it is prohibited to deliberately target barramundi – even for catch and release – during the season closures.
The barra season closure won’t worry Brisbane teen Jack Scott one bit, the 16-yearold catching his very first saltwater barramundi at Magnetic Island’s West Point on Monday.
Father Michael Scott said his son fooled the barra in a small creek mouth close to West point during the rising tide.
“On an incoming tide (Jack) slow rolled a Molix Shad rigged with a half-ounce TT jig head, running 30-pound braid with 40-pound leader,” Scott senior said.
“Jack had caught impoundment barra before, but this was his first salty,” he added.
The fish was happily released when Jack measured the barra a few centimetres shy of the 58cm minimum legal size enjoyed by the species.
The barra complemented a species list for Jack including gold spot cod, tarpon, mangrove jack and a coral trout caught while fishing from Horseshoe Bay rocks.
PLACES TO TARGET
Inshore reef and shoal areas could fish well this weekend, as might do several wrecks should better-than-reasonable boating forecasts come to fruition.
Wrecks including the Nemesis (Bunnings), Bomber and the Sea Hound off Hinchinbrook are certain to be popular and hauls could include nannygai, cobia and mackerel.
Reef fishers might do well to chase down a catch of mackerel as the popular table spe
cies begins to school at wellknown breeding grounds like Bramble, Rib and Keeper Reefs before finding red fish including nannygai and red emperor in deeper trench waters between reefs.
Forgetting reef species after Saturday (Coral Reef Fin Fish closure), trevally of all shapes and sizes are considered a firstrate sport fish and while of lesser value on the plate than a red fish, they remain a good line stretching option.
Shamus Riley and mates found cobia, trevally and nannygai plentiful when they fished shoals wide of Cape Cleveland on Wednesday afternoon, however sharks proved just as hungry with plenty of quality fish lost to the apex predators.
Predictably, the sharks mostly ignore the hooked trevally while nearly all red fish were taken.
Riley said he managed to steer a decent spanish mackerel from the jaws of one big bull shark only to have the estimated 10-kilogram fish slip from the gaff and back into the water while readying himself for a photograph.
Catch of the day might have been a 4kg mangrove jack that took a liking to a slow-pitched jig and amazingly, drew no apparent attention from the sharks.
The Bohle River is reported to be fishing particularly well during recent tides and no doubt, will attract a horde of anglers throughout the final weeks of the barra season.
Live baits have been the key ingredient in the big barra recipe for Deeragun angler Brad Cooper, the FIFO worker finding fish to 90cm on a regular basis when he sets the offerings close to the rock bars near the mouth of the river.
Cooper says he dismisses tides and moon phases as governing factors of his success, instead referring to his roster for best fishing times.
“The most important thing is, I’ll spend as much time as it takes to catch the best live bait. To me, that’s almost as important as catching the barra,” Cooper tipped.
He likes large mullet best.