Winter Tactics Produce Personal Bests
It was an early Monday morning start as I took advantage of a rostered day off to have a Pioneer River flick session with my old mate Steve Bugeja. Steve is a legend of the Mackay kayak angling fraternity and what he doesn’t know about the subject isn’t worth knowing. He put me onto my first kayak fish nearly five years ago and I have been lucky enough to witness some of his epic captures including this personal best 50cm mangrove jack.
After a short time negotiating a fairly rough launch area we slid our yaks into the glassy river in the half light heading downstream in search of anything willing to take a lure. With large mullet jumping from the shallows as we headed for deeper water there seemed to be plenty of surface action and our hopes were high. Steve settled in drifting the sand bars trying his best to tempt a flathead to take his 3″ Berkley powerbait minnow in clear while I targeted a deeper section adjacent to a rock wall with a 3″ Atomic prong whilst floating a Pilchard on gang hooks out the back. I was struggling with my pilchard line being solidly connected to the bottom when I heard a commotion coming from the direction of Steve. After ridding myself of the offending snag I paddled over just in time to see him bringing a large fish over the side of his brand new 2015 Hobie Outback. A 70cm winter barramundi had taken a liking to the most minute of baits in very shallow water, again the master showing the apprentice how it’s done. The first fish for his new yak and another personal best and the sun was not even up!
I then realised maybe I was fishing too deep and proceeded to follow Steves lead and fish the sand banks, gratefully declining his offer of lending me one of his powerbaits. I stuck with the Atomic prong and was rewarded with a feisty strike and run but was disappointed in the end result as a 35cm Barracuda came on board. These fish have nasty teeth and a quick look at my leader confirmed that it required replacing so after a quick cut and re-tie I continued peppering the shallows. In a short while a solid strike peeled the 6lb line off my Shimano Aernos with ease and after a very entertaining fight one of my favourite target species the Grunter or Barred Javelin fish was in the yak. At 50cm this fish was a personal best for me, although Steves barra was a little bit more spectacular a PB is a PB and i was stoked!
So the lessons learned today on winter fishing tactics, when the temperature cools fish shallower with smaller baits and you just may be rewarded with some quality fish. Oh and it does help to take a legend with you!
It was a great Monday morning out on the river made all the more enjoyable by watching the heavy procession of cars travelling to work over the bridge with their occupants looking down longingly at two very lucky mates on kayaks enjoying the best a Mackay winter has to offer.
“The colder the better”