The rain and run-off from cyclone Debbie made for some great fishing if you knew where to look. The cyclone hit at the end of March and dropped a heap of water around the region and flooded the Fitzroy to 8.9m. Fishing the estuaries has been the key choice of late with lots of crabs, good schools of grunter, salmon and barra around. The islands will be dirty for a while yet and the Fitzroy will take a while to clean up in the town reaches.
The river was doing well before the flooding hit with barra being pulled in the 70s constantly. Many anglers have smashed the metre mark, with a few reports of 130cm+ fish. A lot of the fish have been pulled in the city reaches all the way down to the Devils Elbow, but the bigger ones have been more common down the Port, Narrows and Thomsons Point areas. As flood waters rose and the river became unfishable, many of the local creeks and lagoons started to get the big fish move in to escape the floodwaters. Moores Creek was a good example with the little concrete crossing in the gardens having water up to it and fishing very well both in the early morning and late afternoon. Another great example is the Woolwash Lagoon, as water levels came up it fished really well and will continue to do so as water levels drop again.
On the lure side of things, there have been many barra taken on natural vibrant colours such as silvers, golds and bright metallic greens. Diving depths that have been working are anything between 2-5ft. Surface lures have been a great addition to the tackle box in the morning and I found that tarpon, perch and barra had no issue taking a 50-70mm surface lure at this time of day. A couple of pops or twitches and a long pause were all it took to do the trick.
Local systems that do not connect to the Fitzroy have fished very well with the rain run off. Coorooman Creek is a great example of this. There have been great numbers of crabs, barra, salmon, grunter and flathead pulled from this system. Live bait has been the popular option with anglers trying to find schools of herrings, small mullet and prawns. Live bait has worked very well when lightly weighted in the drains and gutters in any of the systems. Larger weights will help you sink the bait down into any holes or pressure points along the bottom that you scan up with the sounder.
For those who prefer to work with lures, casting into the drains and gutters, big ZMan lures, Lucky Craft Pointers and the PowerBait range has worked surprisingly well. Little 3” minnows in watermelon hasve proved very good for grunter and bream.
The recent rains and flooding have been fantastic for the freshwater lagoons and creeks like the Woolwash, Frogmore and Headlow areas, however the most common areas such as the bridges have been heavily fished and are not holding as much fish there as normal after rain. Taking a walk along the water’s edge and having a crack at the lilies and fallen trees is doing the trick, particularly with small plastics and hardbodies. In this case, we found the SX40, Pointer 48 and 3” GrubZ were finding the most success as they closely matched the smaller bait hanging about in these areas.
The fish have been very open to taking poppers this year, this is likely due to the increase in moths and other insects around the area. Frog lures have been fishing pretty well and are great for fishing heavy cover like the pads and any flooded grass. Some viable options include the Lucky Craft G-Splash, R2S Bubble Pop and Kato Karnage micro poppers.
Crabbing is good at the moment with many people catching a heap of bucks at the Corio Bay and Coorooman, and many reports of people getting at least six crabs a trip per person on the boat. Whole mullet seem to be working the best at the moment for bait, but any large dead bait will do the trick. The crabs are predicted to be this way for at least the next month and if the little patches of rain continue and the trickles of fresh keep coming into the systems, this trend for crabs will continue for a while yet.Reads: 1990