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.

A Dogs' Life in the Winter-sundays

Winter is here, and those of us who live in the Whitsunday’s get a smug sense of self satisfaction as we watch the nightly weather reports of the freezing conditions in Southern states. Just another day in the life of a dog, and a dog like ours, who is a boaty through and through, loves this time of year, cool evenings for snuggling up and not so hot during the day that she gets stressed about needing a haircut; just great weather for lazin” around or for a good run on any beach we can get her too as well as loving taking liberties at the dinner table she does not get to at home.

If we are boaties we also keep a “weather eye” on the formation of East Coast lows off NSW or Victoria. These bring the worst of conditions to those areas but act as a block for the traditional SE trade winds which prevail over the North during these months. SE trades can blow for weeks on end, making boating uncomfortable, or at the very least restricting it to inshore areas and the lee of the Islands (which the Whitsundays are blessed with 74 of and multiple calm anchorages).

One thing boaties and fisherman learn early is how to ready a synoptic chart. Those funny maps the weather forecasters produce each night with lots of lines. While to most people these don’t mean much, to any student of the weather they are absolutely invaluable in reading future wind trends and as low-pressure systems form or sweep across South Australia heading for the East Coast we get very excited along the North Queensland Coast about some glorious winter weather on the way.

So, it was last weekend, just a 2 day “window” of calm weather (while it rained and blew its head off in Melbourne).

 Winter time is Mackerel time up here. It is also the last of the great mud crab season before they all head to sea to breed in August so I was a bit torn; Mackerel or crabs. We have a small boat which has already featured in recent blogs which is kind of my creek fishing/crabbing boat and a much larger centre console vessel which I fish the reefs and oceans with. It is a pretty big boat to tow and way to big to get up into the creeks I like to crab in but the little inflatable tender is always an option for this so we took the reef boat in tow, managed a couple of lovely Spanish mackerel and got some fantastic big buck mud crabs from a favourite little crabbing creek in double bay, just to the north of Airlie Beach.

Any of the islands to the north fish well for mackerel this time of year and concentrate on the current lines and rips. Live baits like fusiliers are great but trolling wolf herrings (Ribbon Fish) or gar will also work. Any of the local tackle shops will give you tips on rigs, baits and best spots with all of them run by top blokes and keen fishos.

After knocking up a pizza for dinner on the boat it is home time now with the SE trades blowing 20 knots plus and either some Cajun spiced mackerel of black pepper crab for dinner. Decisions, decisions.