Rockhampton – Fitzroy River – 11-13 November

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.

Fishing the Fitzroy River at dusk

Fishing the Fitzroy River at dusk

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.

Fitzroy River giant herring

Fitzroy River giant herring

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.

Grunter bream on a GULP Peppered Prawn Jerkshad

Grunter bream on a GULP Peppered Prawn Jerkshad

Rockhampton – Fitzroy River – 25 October 2013

Friday

I arrived in Rockhampton late in the afternoon and decided to go fishing on the banks of the Fitzroy River, right in town. I drove over to the Bowls Club and worked my way down to the shoreline just as the sun was dropping, at about 5.00pm. Low tide would be a few hours later. This area, below the ‘new’ bridge, across the river, has lots of rocky channels and drains with muddy/sandy bottom in between.

I could see the fish rising to slurp up bait or perhaps small prawns. The locals prefer to fish this area with large hard bodied minnows. I had no idea what the pattern of the rocks beneath the water, so I started with soft plastics. I decided to initially fish with a 3” Gulp Minnow in the Peppered Prawn colour with a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead.

I had a few touches and as the tide receded and the sun fell, I got a better view of the terrain. This far up the river is obvious fish territory. About 800 metres further upriver, the salt water is stopped when it meets the Fitzroy River Barrage. Presumably the fish follow their natural impulse to swim upriver to spawn and then get stuck in this area (unless they work out how to climb a fish ladder – which seems unlikely!). I concentrated on casting next to the rock bars and into the channels and lost a bit of tackle in the process.

Dusk on the Fitzroy River at Rockhampton

Dusk on the Fitzroy River at Rockhampton

Caught just after sunset on a run out tide

Caught just after sunset on a run out tide

A baby - but still a barra

A baby – but still a barra

At about 6.30 pm, when it was almost too dark to fish, I felt something grab the soft plastic and drop it. I had now swapped to a 2” GULP Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour on the same light , 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead. I carried on peppering the area with casts and a few minutes later I connected again. It was a very small saltwater barramundi, I photographed and released it.

It was now too dark to fish and so I retraced my steps back to the car. Only a baby – but I had found a Fitzroy River barramundi.