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Garry Smith FishTalk Tune in to ABC Radio's Garry Smith at his FishTalk web site for more local fishing news.

July 31, 2008


Clear skies, cold nights and mornings lead to a dramatic drop in water temperature and make lure fishing our rivers and estuaries more difficult. Barra and jacks seem to develop ‘lock jaw’ this time of year and attempts to make them strike at any type of hard or soft bodies lures can be frustrating……so how can anglers make the best of these tough fishing conditions?

The past few weekends I’ve been lure fishing local rivers such as the Daintree, Russell and Mulgrave with good mate Les Marsh and boy have we put in the hard yards! Techniques are so different from warm water, ( summertime), lure fishing as is target fishing specific species. In general we tend to fish for the ‘mixed bag’….anything that comes along rather than just looking for barra or other most wanted species.

Even jacks can be tempted to chase a popper in winter…this is one of three caught by Les in one session.

Winter lure fishing means going for the .mixed bag…..even the author was grateful for this Archer fish on what was a quiet day.

First lesson learned was to cut down on line , leader and lure size. Our predatory species are not as hungry or adventurous and have to be ‘tempted’ with a more subtle approach. No matter how much time we put into casting ‘Gold Bomber’ style / length of lures in the shallows on high tide, or casting them into gutters and drains on the run out it didn’t work! Using the same techniques in summer would produce the goods consistently, but winter time creates a whole new challenge. Where we would have 2 or 3 casts at any snag / obstruction / rockbar at warm water times we now have 15 or 20 casts to the same places using lighter tackle and smaller lures. And it does work!

Tackle consists of a smaller spin outfit…..say a 2000 to 2500 size reel with a 5’6” to 6’ rod. Load up with 10 lbs. Fireline Crystal ( clear) non stretch line and via a double attach a 1.5 metre length of 20 lbs. fluorocarbon leader. Being a fan of snaps the new Japanese ‘Decoy’ Egg Snaps are brilliant in size 3. These ingeneous power snaps are rounded to allow the lure to work to it’s optimum and are almost impossible to open once ‘locked’.

Trevally around the kilo mark fight like Trojans and are quite prolific during the colder months.

Les Marsh with a lure caught Spanish mackerel well upstream, which gave a top fight on 10 lbs. Fireline.

Lures we favour include the F1.11 slow sinking minnow, Rapala Shap Raps..SR5 and SR7, Leads 3” Jack Lures, 3” Gold Bombers and the smaller RMG Scorpion mid and deep divers. When the sun pops out and warms the water later in the day poppers are by far the most exciting option and amongst the best are the Rebel Pop ‘R’ in 2” and 2.5” and the Daiwa TD Salt Popper in 2”. These surface lures can be cast a country mile and are so easy to ‘bloop’ in short sharp jerks. It’s hard to beat the sight of a fish climbing all over a well worked popper… very often see the approach by the fish, then you always see the strike.

As we drift along likely looking stretches of the river, both salt and fresh, we cast alongside and ahead of the boat working every nook and crannie making sure our casts are within cms. of the target. With both crankbaits and poppers that delicate ‘pause’ before starting the retrieve works like magic on jacks or give the lure a ‘rip’ then pause before continuing. Vary your approach and remember you have to provoke a strike rather than rely on the predator moving a few metres to pounce on your lure.

I remember saying to Les the other week….’what are we after today”….his reply was..”anything that wants to bite mate, I’m not fussy in winter”. This sums it up to a tee and I am so grateful for smaller G.T’s this time of year which often latch on between the bank and the boat when the close in snag didn’t produce a strike. They always fight like a Trojan and when they come in over 1.5 kilos they are such a challenge on lighter gear

Our last trip to the Russell /Mulgrave system was in picture perfect winter conditions. The tides were spot on and the sun was shining amid clear blue skies…a scenario for a top days luring. Wrong!!! We must have made 300 casts before we tempted a couple of desperate trevally, then another 200 before we connected to a small jack! We worked our ring off for 5 hours for little result, then persistence paid off as Les latched onto a Spanish mackerel not far off legal size which is a most unusual catch that far up the river. Then I snared a couple of decent jacks and we both found a small queenie each. The key word here is ‘persistence’… lure fishing during winter in the tropics it is the secret to success!

Keith Graham
Bransfords Tackle

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