Bait to Plate

Kev Collins

Well known Restauranter and co-owner of Fish D'vine & The Rum Bar in Airlie Beach. When Kev's not working he's out fishing in the amazing food bowl of the Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park or in his tinnie in the estuaries crabbing! His blog imparts wisdom, tales and info on all things fishing and food.

Of Clouds and Silver Linings

While it is a great disappointment for all the visitors to Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays to have a monsoonal low pressure system, virtually parked on top of us for the last few days, and seemingly intent on hanging around for a few more days yet, it does have a small silver lining. We have had very poor (or good if you are holidaying here) wet seasons as far back as cyclone Yasi in 2011. No rain means no barramundi, or at the very least, very poor spawning recruitments each season.

Every year, in November, December and January, the big Salt Water female Barramundi school in the mouths of local rivers waiting for the full moon. In our case the full moon is just a few days away. They need more than just the moon. Barramundi spawning is triggered by both the full moon and a flush of fresh water coming down the river. When the 2 collide it is a perfect breeding “storm” for the barramundi as the fry will make their way upstream, towards the smell and taste of the fresh water and make their way into the flood plain lagoons.

At the same time, fish which have for many years now, been trapped in the lagoons due to low water flows and no floods, will make their way down river into the salt water reaches of the river and out into the bay.

Every year the local commercial fleet waits for the flush of fresh to fire up the “Barra” and every year, as the season opens on February 1st for both recreational and commercial fishing it is a great disappointment if the barramundi have not spawned because there has been no decent rain.

Not this year. They will spawn next week, with plenty of water flowing down the rivers and off the flood plains. We will have a great year for Barramundi, a great year for local banana prawns and a great year for mud crabs, all because of the rain falling over the last week.

Bad news for the tourists, hard for those of us in business and reliant on tourism customers but, every cloud has a silver lining and in our case that will be the silver sides of great local salt water barramundi.

The rain will pass, the sun will shine again and cycle of wet seasons and dry seasons will continue for this area which is in what is known as the “dry tropics” and does not get the “set your clock” monsoons of areas further North.

When a read just a few weeks ago that the weather “experts” were predicting a dryer than normal wet season for North Queensland this year I warned our staff to get ready for a big wet.  Seems to me that the “experts” got just about everything else wrong in 2016 so why would this be any different.