Monday to Wednesday
I would be in Rockhampton for most of the week. I wanted to put in a few sessions fishing the town reaches of the Fitzroy River. It’s now closed season for barramundi, but I am told there are all sorts of other things to catch on lures and soft plastics. Monday evening was hot, still and humid – perfect fishing conditions. It looked like it was about to rain and the mosquitoes and midges were buzzing in my ears, as soon as I got out of the car.
I had chosen to fish on the north side of the river, close to the base of the railway bridge. The grass is head high here, but there are a few tracks through it. I think its best not to think too hard about what might be lurking in the long grass at dusk. I always wear boots and long sleeves and trousers in this kind of terrain.
By the time I reached the waters edge I was soaked in sweat. The water was fairly murky but the locals I spoke with said this was about as clean as the salty part of the river ever gets. Once the rain started it would get much murkier.
It was about 5.30 pm and the sun was dropping fast. There was plenty of bait around and every now and then, a predator would send tiny fish flying in all directions. High tide would be just before 6.00 pm and the water was not moving very fast.
I was fishing with the Berkley IM6 Dropshot GEN IV 6’6″ Light spin rod. I had it rigged with 14lb fluorocarbon leader and had put on a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead and a GULP 2″ Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour. I felt a few nudges and as it got dark the plastic was grabbed by a fish which took for a short powerful run, then dropped it.
A couple of casts later it must have come back around and this time it did not hesitate. It took off with the soft plastic heading for mid-stream. Almost immediately the fish jumped clear of the water and initially I thought it was a large Tarpon. On the second jump I got a better look and realised it was not a Tarpon. On the third jump I got a really good look at it because it jumped out of the water and up on the bank next to me. It was a giant herring. It thrashed around while I took a few photos and then with one final jump spat the lure and landed back in the water – a very tidy catch and release.
It was now 6.30 pm and very dark, so I decided it was time to get out of the long grass and head for a cool shower. Over the next few nights, I swapped sides of the river and fished through dusk, under the bridges through the high tide. I caught a few grunter and a few tarpon. I connected with another giant herring but failed to land it. I also had a couple of bite offs which could have been anything. I found the natural coloured peppered prawn and banana prawn plastics worked best.