Estuary Queenfish Sessions

With the advent of winter, or the dry season, in North Queensland comes the welcome return of a very feisty visitor, the Queenfish. The cooler months see other species shut down, but the Queenfish’s arrival heralds the start of a frantic few months of heart in mouth action.

Popper fishing is the most exciting way to chase them, targeted at the lower ends of the tides, they can provide spectacular reel screaming sessions. In the estuaries you will find specimens up to around the metre mark, and on light gear you have to work hard to land theses beauties.

And while chasing the Queenies, a very handy bycatch is of course the Giant Trevally. These fish are legendary for their pulling power, and again on light gear makes for some entertaining fishing. The bigger specimens head out to the reef, but GT of considerable size can be caught in the estuaries.

Recently on the water I was out with a client, when we had a shark try to take on a Queenfish I had just hooked up. The Queenfish did a complete 360 degree circle around the shark and narrowly avoided being taken, it was great viewing just metres from the side of the boat. Fifteen minutes later when the fish was finally photographed and released, the water exploded about 20metres from the boat, the taxman had come in to collect his dues.

Besides putting up a spirited fight, Queenies also put on some pretty impressive aerial acrobatics, coming out of the water up to half a dozen times during a fight. Unfortunately they tire themselves out comprehensively on light gear, and reviving them takes some time and effort.

Queenfish Estuary Sessions

This time of year we also see big quantities of blue tailed mullet enter the estuaries, sometimes in their thousands. And while they won’t take a lure, you can from time to time find Queenfish swimming in their vicinity. You can see a nice fish in the photos taken in this manner, also note the scarring near the tail on this fish.

Your popper retrieve needs to be fast and aggressive, making short sharp rips to move plenty of water, and continuously keeping the lure on the move. The idea is to attract attention, stop the lure and they loose interest just as fast. One frustrating aspect of this style of fishing is the amount of fish that come right up to the boat and peel off just as the lure is taken from the water.

So, as we the weather starts to warm up, we’ll start to target other species, like barra and jacks. However, I’ll still look forward to next year, when the Queenfish grace us with their presence again.

Brett Parks
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