Mackay Fishing Report November 2009

This month’s fishing report is brought to you by fishing writer and photographer Lee Brake. Lee is an avid angler, born in Mackay who has cut his teeth working in tackle shops from the age of 15.

He now spends his time fishing and writing in six national publications and writes as a columnist for the popular local publication North Queensland Fish and Boat monthly. Lee also did the interview with Greg Reynolds that you will find on the homepage.

G’day all from Lee Brake!

This month Mackay has seen some absolutely chaotic fishing. On the blue water, I’ve had the privilege of accompanying the team from Reefari Charters on one of their salt water sojourns. The boys have been having a cracker month with some truly impressive hauls of large and small mouth nannygai and several heart thumping, big reds.

Also worth mentioning were some rare and exciting captures including a passionfruit trout, barramundi cod and a thumping great bluespot trout!

Raptor II Reefari Fishing Charters

My trip with the crew was somewhat of a specialty charter. The idea was to chase pelagics like monster GTs and Spanish Mackerel because the reef fin fish closure meant that those tasty bottom dwellers in red, orange and pink were off limits.

The plan was to use large soft plastic jigs to work bottom structure and cup-faced poppers to work the surface.

The plastics were of the 7” Jerk Shad variety in a Nuclear Chicken colour, rigged with a 1.5ounce jig head. These went off like prawns in the sun and we found that we couldn’t even get them to the bottom before the rods bent over like wilting leaves and the drags screamed.

The big head shakes that ensued made me hopeful for a GT but once off the bottom the fight left the fish and the crystal clear water revealed a trophy sized cod with the plastic firmly imbedded in its mouth.

Estuary Code

This was quickly released and after two more drops for several more bucket-mouthed cod we decided to avoid further undue stress to these fish (which were released) and moved on to chase some shallow water species.

These came in the form of giant trevally; big dark shouldered, hulking brutes that would appear under our poppers, explode like a depth charge and inevitably drive us into rocky structure and into a sudden, brutal demise.

On the upside, I did enjoy seeing a quality flowery cod explode upon a beer can-sized, Cultiva cup-faced popper and dive around a rocky point.

I had to literally grab the spool in desperation, let me tell you!

Flowery Condon Cod

On the blue water front, the tuna are thicker than pea and ham soup and are as prolific as I’ve ever seen them. They are, however, a little finicky and this is normally a result of boat traffic and bait size.

They tend to feed on schools of whitebait and hardyheads that can be as small as an unhusked peanut so don’t waste your time with giant metal slugs and surface lures, instead, try small white featherhead jigs and whitebait imitation slugs.

Gillies, silver Baitfish slugs in a 25grm are a good choice. Also worth noting if you want to target the school-calibre mackerel is a little trick when spinning – simply cast at a boil of tuna and allow the lure to sink under the school before employing a quick rip-and-pause retrieve.

Inshore, the barramundi are now off the take list, but that doesn’t mean they’re off the target list completely, with the local impoundments fishing unbelievably well. Kinchant is still producing barra of gargantuan proportion with many anglers taking fish well over the metre mark.

Impoundment Barramundi

Mick Rethus from Pioneer Valley Fishing Tours has noted that Teemburra Dam has been producing plenty of quality barra in the high 70cm range but very few smaller fish, though as the water temperature rises into December, these should start biting as well.

For the best results, Mick recommends working soft plastics as slowly as humanly possible. Try bays and points that have the wind pushing warm water and bait onto them.

The estuaries are once again coming alive with the start of the wet weather causing an explosion of prawns in the creeks, especially around Seaforth. The size is still average, but expect some quality in time for Christmas.

Bream, salmon and small pelagics are providing entertainment for land-based enthusiasts and mangrove jack are biting hard on the night tides with live bait and fresh, dead bait being the most successful.

That’s it from me for this month, but I’ll be back after Christmas with more of what’s biting. In the mean time, for fishing fix check out Reefari’s channel on You Tube ( or maybe even follow us on Twitter at or for more information on the latest in tackle and toys, check out my Tackle Rat column in NQ Fish and Boat.

Cheers, Lee Brake

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