Sure Thing Shrimpin’ – By Dan Kaggelis
The only one thing better than a solid wet season is the fishing that comes after it. Whilst it can be a little frustrating watching the creeks and rivers run chocolate for months on end, the reality is that these big flushes will eventually pay some pretty big dividends in terms of fish recruitment for the future.
The good news is that as we move into the late autumn months and the rainfall begins to ease, creeks and rivers will be cleaning up nicely with that coffee coloured water being replaced by that inviting deep green water which all lure fishermen love. When it comes to targeting fish on lures, one of the single biggest factors which impacts success is water clarity and if the fish can’t see your lure than your chances of interaction are slim.
The other big plus which comes out the back of a solid wet season are the explosions of bait fish and prawn populations in our creeks and rivers. Plenty of bait equals plenty of fish- its that simple and that’s good news to every fisherman out there. As the creeks clear up and begin to return to normal flows much of this bait will also return, bringing with it the fish which love to feed on it.
Whilst this time of year is favourable in both these senses, the drier climate, unfortunately, brings cooler air temperatures which means a drop in water temperatures. It’s not unusual for the late months of autumn to bring a steady run of cool southeasterly flows onto the coast which can see water temps cool quite quickly bringing with it the dreaded lockjaw. Barramundi are the worst for it, and any change or drop in water temp has them sulking in the corner of the snags and banks plainly refusing to take any offering. Jacks are a little more cooperative but can also throw their fair share of ‘cold water tantrums’ especially when a cold snap takes effect.
Whilst the scenario is very much a double-edged sword, there are certain lure presentations which can negate many of the negative effects of this time of year whilst at the same time capitalising on the positives.
In my opinion, there is no better way to do this than throwing a prawn soft plastic pattern. Prawns provide plenty of retrieval options, size options and most importantly a subtle presentation – three factors to consider when the water begins to cool, and the fish become less cooperative. Whilst there are plenty to choose from, the newest release Shrimps from J.M Gillies are certainly worth getting your hands on.
There are several aspects to the Gillies Shrimp plastic which sets them apart from their competitors. Firstly, in terms of imitation, these prawns are up there with the best of them in terms of natural look, swimming action and overall presentation in the water. These shrimps are amazingly lifelike, and match our traditional banana prawn pattern perfectly. What I really like about them is the number of appendages starting from the tail flukes all the way to the antennae at the head. These prawns have plenty of waving legs and arms, especially under the head which mimic a prawn in the water perfectly. I also love the bright, dimensional eyes, and if you have ever seen a prawn swimming about in the water, the first thing you will notice is the way their eyes just standout so clearly. The Gillies Shrimp has really captured this feature perfectly. The other feature I love about fishing this plastic is its’ slender body profile. This allows the plastic to fall really well through the water column and provide a real-life like presentation. The body is also super soft which allows you to get that lifelike prawn flick movement when you rip them with your rod tip off the bottom or twitching them through snags.
The final feature the Gillies shrimp offers is size choice. The guys at Gillies understand that choosing the right size lure to match your prey is such an important feature and for this reason, the Shrimp range comes in 3 awesome size options. The baby of the Shrimp family is the 2.75 inch or 68mm version which comes pre-rigged on a standard super strong super sharp j hook internal jig head. Coming in at 5.6 grams in weight this little shrimp is perfect for flicking into snags for bream, bass and jacks. It is the perfect little prawn lure for when you can see those little prawns cruising and flicking on the banks. Even at this size, they cast really well and fish with plenty of action. This size is also ideally suited to working the sand flats and mangroves coastal edges, and they have been absolutely deadly on the flathead. If you don’t like the pre-rigged version, it’s not hard to remove the existing rig and replace with your own weedless rig set up. The next step up is the 4 inch or 100mm sized shrimp. It also comes pre-rigged and weighs around 18 grams. This mid ranged shrimp is ideally suited for casting into snags chasing those bigger jacks, barra and cod. They are really well weighted to fishing bait cast into snags and edges. 18 grams is also an ideal weight for fishing them in similar country to where you would opt for a soft vibe presentation. This mid-range model is a great fence sitter as it allows you to target those bigger fish without taking you out of the game for those small more prolific models which keep you occupied whilst waiting for that trophy to come along.
Finally comes the big boy of the Shrimp range, the 6 inch 150mm version. This really is a good sized prawn lure and is perfect for targeting those big trophy barra and jacks. Weighing in at 35 grams (unrigged) you can fish this plastic in some pretty deep water without sacrificing any action. This bigger model comes unrigged, and its’ design allows for easy rigging on all types of weedless, j hook, or stinger rig setups. This plastic is at home in just about any scenario from blue water out the reef for trout and nannygai through to big barra off the beach or in the snags and channels. In fact, this model is perfect for those land-based beach anglers chasing fish like threadfin salmon, barra and even jew fish which love to hunt along the open beaches. They are extremely popular on my local beaches in Cairns and Port Douglas for this very reason. You can cast them a mile, have plenty of weight to stay on the bottom and are perfectly suited to snaring big fish which often hunt in these spots.
Autumn is the perfect time to fish a prawn pattern, and the Gillies Shrimp brings plenty to the table. With the water clearing up, these plastics not only provide plenty of retrieval options but also that ever important range of size options to match the hatch. So make the most of the back end of the wet season and get ‘shrimpin’.