A lucky white Mangrove Jack lureJames Dainton
Three times a year I come up North for a sales run, every time I make it up I look to squeeze in at least two days fishing. It was the last weekend before the close of Barra season and an Ingham local offered to take me out on the Hinchinbrook channel. I had been warned to not get my hopes up too high with the gigantic tides as the fishing had been tough in recent days because of it. We started the day on the run out tide finding nooks and cranny’s in the mangroves standing tall in the boat looking to spot Barramundi. One particular bank we fished Ryan mentioned that you usually would see at least a dozen Barra amongst the mangroves, we couldn’t spot even one. The only sign of life was black bream coming up slurping at the surface poppers.
A couple of red flashes here and there whilst running lures past snags but not the morning we were hoping for. At the end of the run we found a huge snag in the middle of nowhere, it would have had to have a couple of feet on it, it had fish written all over it. We approached the log cautiously Ryan fired a cast past the front of the log whilst I sank my lure right down next to the middle of the log, no action. Next cast I flung one with the intention of sinking it right at the front of the log, the most likely looking part of it, I pulled my cast only slightly and just caught the edge of the snag. 95% of the time I can flick this lure off snags, but not this time. As we approached the log a big barra around the metre mark bolted out from under the front of the log into obscurity. I couldn’t believe it, there is no guarantee it would have hit one of our lures but it sure was devastating to know that we didn’t give ourselves a decent chance at that fish. The morning had been tough enough as it was, that all could have been made up for with a fish like that.
We were willing to take anything at this point whether it be a barramundi, mangrove jack, trevally or flathead. In fact we’d gotten pretty darn close to cashing in on a school of smaller GT’s, they were busting up big time, birds hovering, we literally had our reels clicked over ready to cast only for a boat to come hooning right through the middle of the busting school. Some boaters have no water smarts whatsoever, out of the whole estuary why they would want to drive that closely past a boat that is clearly fishing has me baffled. Very unimpressed we missioned on up a creek to find our next spot.
Low tide came and went without any more substantial action, all morning we had been chopping and changing lures, we had thrown everything but the kitchen sink at these fish. As the run in tide started to fill up around the mangroves I changed over to a white Trigger I had barely ever used, it was one of the last lures in my tackle box that I had tried for the day. 5 minutes later I hooked onto a small GT, nothing to get excited about but at least a fish in the boat. From the moment we got that fish in the boat the action started to heat up, mangrove jack were slamming this white lure Trigger we could not get a bump on anything else. I had another one of these in my tackle box so old mate tied one on and he was into the thick of it was well. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a scenario where the fish were so honed in on one particular lure, it was rediculous.
As the run in was nearly complete it was that time of day to get off the water. It had been an interesting day, we didn’t get the chrome that we were in search for but its funny how sometimes when you go a few hours without action how you can get so much enjoyment out of any action. Catching mangrove jacks are a bloody hoot, especially as they get up towards 50cm such as the fish we had experienced for the arvo. The precision required to entice a strike is phenomenal, if your lure isn’t swimming within an inch of the structure then you get nothing. Another enjoyable days fishing in the NQ tropics, I’m curious to see if my trusty white Trigger is just as effective next time.