Fishing the Fitzroy – By Nick Thompson

If you are in Rocky and you love fishing, or even are just a young keen fisherperson like myself, the Fitzroy is the place for it. The Fitzroy is home to many epic species of fish such as barra, blue and king salmon, flathead, mangrove jack, grunter, jew and many more. The Fitzroy also holds live bait which you need to target these species of fish. So, let me tell you what inhabits the Fitz.

The most epic fish to catch in the Fitzroy is the barramundi also known as barra and is the most commonly targeted fish in the Fitzroy. Barramundi will always be a challenge to catch, but when you hook a barra, it is the fight of your dreams. Barra are often caught on baits or on lures, just depending on your choice to target them. If you choose bait, barra prefer to feed on fish baits, such as mullet, which is the barras all-time favourite choices of prey, but any live bait will work. When fishing with baits, it’s best to use a sinker as light as possible but make sure it gets to the bottom with a 60-pound leader and a circle hook. A 60-pound leader is the best option because often the areas where barramundi feed are generally snaggy, so it’s good to have a little bit heavier leader. With lures it is more than just a matter of putting it in front of their face, you need to look around to see what baitfish are schooling up and try to match your lure to these fish. This is called matching the hatch. When you finally hook a barra, they jump and pull really hard using their size and weight to their advantage.webJFF3

The most commonly caught salmon is the king or king threadfin, but on occasions, blue salmon will be feeding and are caught as well. When fishing with bait for salmon I always choose prawns as my salmon fishing bait, but herring are the next bait best bait in the water when the prawns are not available. I always fish with a paternoster with 60-pound leader because salmon tend to go ‘whack’ and come back for the rest of their package. The reason you need a 60-pound leader is because of their sandpaper-like mouths that can fray through light leaders. The catfish generally are around, so it’s best to have two baits in the water. If you can’t get bait this not a problem, there is a wide range lures that will catch salmon. Salmon love vibes and plastics, but they won’t turn their head away from a hard body. Salmon fight really hard with long and fast runs. Their giant tail helps with speed, and they never give up. Just as a tip, if you get a massive whack when bait fishing leave it there and wait for the blistering run as quite often salmon will hit and do the final blow later.webJFF4

Grunter prefer to feed on crustaceans than fish baits, but I have to be honest this fish will not turn away from a herring or a mullet. It’s a good idea to use a heavy sinker because grunters are bottom feeders and have a circle hook with a 40-pound leader. Grunter are probably the hardest fish to catch on lures, but if you want to fish with lures, a vibe is your best chance because they sink quickly to the area where they are feeding. Grunter fight like no other fish. They hit when you least expect it, and they hit and run and never give up, pound for pound grunter are the best fighting fish in the Fitzroy River, and you will never forget if you catch one of these epic fish.

These fish obviously need to eat something, so you need to get some bait. To get live bait, you need to learn how to cast a cast net. People at the ramp and the local tackle stores will be happy to help if you don’t already know. Low tide is the best tide for bait catching and the best bet to get bait is in the mouths of the creeks, along the mud banks and around the boat ramps. The bait you will catch are mullet, yorkies, herring, prawns and if there is some fresh in the water, there is a chance of the bony bream which is a barramundis lolly. Of course, there are smaller fish such as baby trevally which are a pain to get out. You can’t use these small fish such as trevally for bait as they have a legal size so remember to check the local laws. Lastly, do me a favour and put everything back that you do not need so we can catch them another day.webJFF8

The most import thing to know is where to fish. There are heaps of areas that always provide fish and the boat ramps are one of the best choices of land base fishing areas in the river, and they often hold salmon and barra. But the ramps are for boats so if there is a boat using it, remember to pull in your lines. Another good area is the touch football grounds. The only problem is that you can only fish there in the high tide. If there is a lot of salmon markings, then that area is successful. Under the bridge is a great spot, I have not fished there, but I know some people who have been successful and I have fished there from casting range from a boat and caught some nice salmon. Any of the accessible areas should be good fishing but always remember safety first. The best trips are when you experiment with new areas, and you catch the big fish.

The same as every time you fish, you need to know all about safety and how to stay safe in the river. First off, you always must have pliers, scissors or at least a knife with you but make sure you get supervision with knives. The reason for this is because of the abundance of catfish, eels and toadfish that are in the river. Catfish have three poisonous spines on their pectoral fins (which is the fins located on the side of the fish) and one on the dorsal fin (which is the fin located on the top of the fish). Their venomous spines can’t kill you, but they will give a lot of pain. Another reason to bring pliers scissors or knife is because there are some bull sharks. On the plus side though, they put up a great fight, as they jump around. It’s an awesome sight watching them jump as they are very acrobatic. At the top of the food chain is the saltwater croc. These animals are the most powerful, and you just need to respect that they are the boss and move away if you see one. If they are near a boat ramp or publicly used area, call Croc Watch. Always have some mosquito spray because they are literally everywhere and as always you need to be sun safe. On occasions, there are sea snakes in the river, so I always have shoes on.

Overall the Fitzroy is an awesome fishing spot as it always holds fish from tiny mullet to the monster barra that will eat the tiny mullet. The Fitzroy River is a great spot to fish either on land or in a boat as it has a fishing surprise around every corner and is a great way to spend a day.     webJFF9