Shona hooks in but
AARON Pratt fired a shot across her bow, “Honey, I’ve got the car keys”.
That was after partner Shona Wong had caught yet another fish, a fine gold spot or estuary cod that was destined to do time in the icebox.
The pair fished within Cleveland Bay’s shipping channel last weekend, conditions on the water considered stifling when light breezes dissipated and the spring sun sizzled.
Fishing however, was anything but red-hot with bait difficult to catch and by his own admission, Pratt was hardly surprised.
“I never catch anything but Shona always catches,” he chuckled without any hint of self pity.
Pratt was good with that yin and yang part of the relationship, Shona putting a fish dinner on the table, as she usually does.
Pratt wasn’t without his chances though, his rod buckling to the weight of good fish on more than one occasion.
His fishy problem was nothing more than owning a good dose of the wrong kind of luck needed for the hook to find its mark.
Shona added mackerel to the catch before the pair retreated from the summer-like heat.
Ross Eekhoff and wife Ellie were among the first to find grey or broad barred mackerel when they fished close to Magnetic Island early this week.
Trolling a pattern of minnow type lures including Killalure, Halco and Samaki brands, the pair only registered half-hearted strikes from school or doggie mackerel before the bigger mackerel species were detected close to the bottom on the sounder.
Changing lures to the metal slice or jig models, Ross was immediately into fish when he let the lure hit the bottom before commencing a high-speed retrieve.
The doggie mackerel were the first to fall for the change in tactics, however the grey mackerel soon muscled in on the action.
Ross described the action as thrilling with the mackerel delivering blistering runs when hooked on the light threadline tackle.
The husband-and-wife fishing team placed four fish in the icebox before tracing a comfortable journey back to the harbour with an afternoon sea breeze at their back.
WHAT A RIPPER
Cleveland Bay waters were kind to Phillip Wolanski and son Oliver 9, both sharing a very special catch last weekend.
From among a school of mackerel and cobia or black kingfish, a GT or giant trevally of thumping proportions chased down a live bait that was pinned to Phil’s line.
Oliver had already put dinner in the icebox, a fat grey mackerel, and he watched on as dad was unceremoniously dragged from the bow of the boat to the stern, in quick time.
Braid line was ripped from the big spin reel, in spite of a heavy drag, and the rod bucked and heaved, Phil unable to do anything more than just hang on.
With the big fish eventually slowing, Phil could feel the characteristic GT tailbeat telegraphed from the business end of the fight right through to his fingertips, his nails digging into the rod foregrip.
The tussle was a good one and 15 minutes in, Oliver let
out a holler of astonishment as his father drew the big fish closer to the boat.
Although still hanging deep, the flank of the fish reflected drowning sunlight and revealed the true bulk of the monster – something surely etched for eternity into a nineyear-old’s memory.
Phil endured – and enjoyed – the closing stages of a typical GT encounter as the fish stubbornly circled below the boat, taking only occasional metres but also, giving very little in return.
Inch by inch the brutish fish was encouraged closer to the boat with Phil using a shortstroking technique which denied the GT any chance of turning its head and powering away with its enormously forked tail.
Finally drawn to the boat, Phil marvelled at the little 4/0 size kahle hook pinned in the hinge of the fish’s jaw and when cradled, the GT must have felt akin to a bag of cement – or perhaps slightly heavier.
Oliver and his dad enjoyed brief moments admiring the enormous fish before it was speared back into the shallow bay waters.
The occasion was a touching affair, Phil explaining to his young son a creature like that was most likely inferior table fare and more importantly, far too good to be caught just once.
Barramundi remain a priority catch for plenty of local anglers and a typical spring run of fish has, for the most part, kept them happy.
Cleveland Bay creeks have been well fished, as has the Haughton River, Morrissey’s Creek, the Burdekin’s Barrattas system and creeks in between, most giving up welcome numbers of the popular port and table fish.
Both lure casting and live bait techniques are proving effective and should continue to do so with tides on the back of yesterday’s full moon and into the weekend deemed reasonable by experienced anglers.
Chris Wilcox says Bully readers would do well to consider fishing within any Cleveland Bay creek, but particularly during the late afternoon periods.
“The barras have been biting best late in the afternoon and just before dark,” the Kelso angler said.
“The water’s got hot pretty quick and my mates and I have been finding them in the deeper holes … and we’re using vibes to get the bites,” he added.
Dale Welldon from specialist tackle outlet Fishing Warehouse said anglers could do worse than use mullet fillet bait for barras when the waters are as warm as they are at present.
“Don’t be afraid to sacrifice a live bait, fillet it and use the mullet strip for bait,” Welldon said. “I had a customer who fished the Haughton River on Wednesday, used live baits all day for no result and then filleted a large mullet and caught three barras.”
Welldon said it was far from uncommon for barramundi to show a preference for fillet
baits towards the very end of the fishing season and he’s heard similar accounts on three other occasions this week alone.
Dave Killalea of Townsville based Old Dog Lures said he’d be considering doing his thing from or near harbour and marina breakwalls if he was to fish for barra this weekend.
Land-based, or from boat,
he says his handcrafted lures stand a good chance of fooling fish. “The Gutter Master 100 in the shallow model … that’s what I’d be using if walking and working the waters near the base of the breakwalls,” Killalea said.
“And from a boat, maybe the deeper model when casting at the wall and retrieving back to the boat, but for trolling
along the walls, I’d be looking to the larger Mutt 130 in a 10+ model at lower tides and probably the shallower model during high tides when you’re up and closer to the rocks.”
When pressed on colour selection, Killalea was quick to point out that the bleeding mullet pattern (colour No.15) was a standout as is the grey ghost No.84.