by Jarrod Day
Located approximately one hundred kilometres north of Townsville, Hinchinbrook Island is a Mecca for anglers. From barramundi, mangrove jack and trevally up the channel to mackerel, fingermark and queenfish in the Bluewater; Hinchinbrook Island supports a wide variety of fishing for all.
Mangrove jack are a worthy target and are caught on lures amongst the snags.
Lucinda on the southern end of the Hinchinbrook channel has a good boat ramp enabling angler’s easy access. From this point, anglers can navigate into the main channel or out into the Bluewater.
Fishign the end of the Lucinda jetty can be very rewarding.
The well known Lucinda Jetty which is approximately five kilometres in length supports a huge variety of sports fish at its end. Anglers keen on targeting Spanish mackerel can do so by anchoring and setting a berley trail. While there maybe a few locations to target them, it is around the end of the jetty that is quite productive. Live baits or unweighted pilchards rigged on gang hooks can be free spooled down the trail which are quickly devoured when the fish are on. Trolling diving hard body lures between the jetty and out towards the Palm Island group also yields a good catch. The depth between fluctuates from 15 meters to 30 meters making it ideal to troll deep diving lures such as Yo-Zuri Hydro Magnums. Casting jigs or metal slugs next to the jetty pylons will catch the attention of trevally, mackerel, fingermark and a host of other hard pulling species. The only problem is that you have to contend with the pylons and many fish can be lost if you don’t go hard early.
Queenfish caught on poppers over the sand flats can be very entertaining.
Fishing the channel: Entering the main channel there is a large sand bar which on the low tide is worth flicking small 100mm surface poppers onto the shallow flats. When they are blooped over the deeper drops offs, queenfish are quick to respond and some can be of fair size.
In the main channel, tuna are a possibility.
The channel itself needs to be navigated with care as there are a lot of shallow sandbars in which anglers can run aground. Though it is unmarked, sticking to the middle is a safe bet. The channel itself maintains a depth of around 11 meters but comes up shallow to around a meter or less on the edges. While the bottom is predominantly mud and sand, bottom bouncing with paternoster rigs can lead to a good catch of grunter and fingermark. Top water specialists often seek out northern bluefin tuna in season, trevally and queenfish. These are willing surface lure takers with Yo-Zuri hydro poppers a top choice. Look for the current lines and cast into them working the lures back to the boat.
Barra aplenty, when you find one, you can catch plenty of them.
High on the edges, the mud flats can extend quite far before reaching the mangroves. The flats may only be one meter or less in depth but offer anglers the perfect opportunity for sight casting to barramundi, queenfish, trevally, salmon and a host of others. Cruising the flats and casting to dark shadows is very effective. There are a myriad of lures which can be used including your standard diving hard bodies but soft plastics are more productive in this situation. Once a fish is seen, a precision cast can be made.
When casting to snags, make sure your accurate.
Fish in these locations are very flighty and the cast must be accurate to bring the lure right past their nose otherwise they will spook. The flats are also the perfect location for fly casters. Permit, barramundi and queenfish certainly get the blood boiling when hooked up. Few isolated snags exist which fish quickly find to bust you off but still, the fishing can be explosive.
Up the creek: There are hundreds of creeks which wind their way up through the mangroves both along the mainland side and the Island side. The creeks are loaded with a host of fish but success is based all around the tides.
Estuary cod arnt a prized catch but do put up a fantistic battle.
On the top of the tide and beginning of the run off, barramundi, mangrove jack, estuary cod and a host of other mangrove dwelling species can be caught. During this stage of the tide most of the fish will be hiding deep amongst the snags. To entice them, you have to pitch your lure into the thick of it resulting in a few lost lures from time to time.
Providing you can get the lures deep to the back of the snag some good fish can be caught.
On the night tide, navigating through the mangroves can lead to some memorable fishing.
During the last hour or so of the run off, barra will slip down with the lowering water level and tend to sit at the creek mouths or where small drains run into the creeks. Small fish, prawns and other potential meals will drain off the banks and wash into the creek making it easy pickings for predatory fish. Anglers should heavily concentrate on these areas when flicking lures. It usually only takes a few casts and you’ll know if there is a fish in there or not. These creeks don’t often warrant the use of larger style barra lures rather lures in the 110mm to 90mm are more effective. Yo-Zuri crystal minnows, Duel Hardcore minnows and DOA 3' shrimp are some of the best in this situation.
The Hinchinbrook Channel is an amazing location that has to be fished to be believed. If you’re heading up Queensland way and wish to dabble in a bit of fishing, dust of the rods and wind your way through the myriad of mangrove lined channels, you’ll be amazed at just how productive this waterway actually is.
Watch your toes, there is no dangling over the side in these parts.
Bait cast tackle is ideal when flicking lures to barramundi.