Fitzroy River Threadfin Salmon
John Haenke Profile
Fishing Guide, Videographer and TV Producer
John Haenke is well known for his television and DVD fishing productions such as “Escape with ET”, “Wildfish With Peter Morse” and the “Fishing Downunder” series. But he’s an exceptional angler in his own right – when he’s not busy filming Australia’s fishing elite. John also runs a boutique and very personal guiding service out of Rockhampton for barramundi, king threadfin and a multitude of other species.
John’s Top Tips For Threadfin Salmon Fishing
- Threadfin salmon are a schooling fish and tend to move through the system depending on conditions and where the prawns (their main food source) are located. Once located, it’s not unusual to find them in schools of one hundred or more fish.
- King threadfin are an all-year round target and tend to move to the mouth of the river when there’s a fresh running but will move up as far as the barrage during the dry season. During the wet season when prawns are being flushed from the creeks and drains the threadfin are often in shallow water around the mouths of drains.
- Learn to recognise threadfin on the sounder as they’re quite distinctive. In deeper water they’re usually found schooling away from structure but when conditions are right they can also be found feeding on the flats or in the gutters and drains in the flats. Suspending fish are usually active and willing to bite.
- Threadfin like to sit over gravelly areas and don’t tend to hang over structure like barra. They are fast, powerful fighters but generally don’t head for structure.
- Watch the line closely when fishing vibration baits for threadfin. Even big threadfin salmon will often bite quite lightly, and often when the lure is on the drop, so you need to be ready to set the hook the instant the lure stops moving or behaves strangely.
- Sometimes threadfin are feeding on jelly prawns and are nearly impossible to tempt with a lure. If you’re seeing fish crashing through showering jelly prawns you’re probably in for a tough day.
John’s Preferred Tides And Times For Threadfin
- Threadfin salmon can be caught year-round in the Fitzroy River, the exception being when there’s a big fresh coming through, which shuts the fishing down.
- Building tides just after the neap usually fish the best as they give enough water movement to bring fish on the bite but not enough to dirty the water too much.
- The run in tide seems to be best for threadfin. They often feed hardest for about to an hour and a half after the tide starts to run in.
- Fish come through in waves at various stages of the tide and successive waves may move up onto different parts of the flat as the tide continues to move in.
John’s Preferred Threadfin Salmon Fishing Gear
- When targeting threadfin it’s good to go down to 30-40lb fluorocarbon leaders, especially when the fish are being a little finicky. However, it’s not uncommon to cath barra and threadies in the same session, so 50-60lb leaders may necessary.
- Either a decent quality baitcast or 3000 size spin reel is fine make sure the reel has a quality drag. 20lb braided line is ideal and more than enough even for the larger fish.
John’s Best Threadfin Salmon Lures
- A 20g soft vibe is the #1 lure for threadfin salmon. Brand is not important as long as they are quality lures, but Wilsons fish trap and Jackall Transams are a good choice. Cast the lure upstream and give it plenty of time to sink, then bring it back in short hops along the bottom if fish are hugging the bottom. Vary the retrieve until you find what works on the day and remember that fish often take these on the drop. For suspending fish, start the retrieve before the lure hits bottom – slow rolling will often be successful if the fish are suspending.
- A suspending hard body in the 4-5″ size range is prefect for when the fish are in shallow drains and gutters. In dirty water a lure with a rattle in yellow/orange colours work well and lures with rattles can sometimes be more effective under these conditions also. Pointers and Jackall Squirrels are good options here, best twitched in the same manner as when yo’re fishing a barra lure – twitch and pause on a slow retrieve.
- A shallow running hard body lure such as a 3.5″ Bomber Long A in yellow or orange is prefect when the fish are on shallow flats or in the small drains in a metre or less of water.