Mackay Fishing Personality
Luke Galea is a Mackay based angler and regular writer for multiple fishing magazines including Fish and Boat, Freshwater Fishing and the now defunct Modern Fishing. He’s involved professionally with fisheries management and the promotion of fishing tourism through the “Hooked On Mackay” initiative, is on the Frogleys Offshore Pro Angler team and takes every opportunity to trek in and fish the sweetwater fisheries around Mackay.
Luke’s Top Tips For Mackay Sweetwater Fishing
- The key species on offer in the brackish and freshwater rivers around Mackay are barramundi, mangrove jack, sooty grunter and the occasional jungle perch.
- The winter months (dry season) are the best time to target these fish. Despite cooler water temperatures fish will still be on the chew and low flows with clear water make walking and fishing safer and easier. Angler comfort is also much better during these cooler months.
- Study Google Earth for likely fishing and access points. Look for sharp bends in the river, these usually contain deep holes that hold fish. Root balls, laydowns, natural barriers such as waterfalls and rock bars as well as man made barriers like culverts, weirs and bridges are all fish holding structures that can often be identified from Google Earth.
- Be sure to get permission before crossing private property. Often you can get access via bridge or culvert crossings, easements and travelling stock routes and then move along within the stream bed without fear or entering private property.
- Stealth is important. During the dry season these systems are shallow and gin clear, so fish are easily spooked. Wear earthy colours.
- Safety is a key consideration. Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return. Carry first aid gear, especially a snake bandage. Bring a mobile phone in a waterproof bag or container – often you’ll find there is no mobile reception at these locations but keep in mind that dialing the emergency number 112 can sometimes still work. Consider purchasing a personal EPIRB for this style of fishing.
- Keep what you carry to a minimum. Water is the heaviest but most important thing you’ll carry. Consider purchasing a life straw so you can safely drink river water (if you’re fishing saline areas this won’t work and you’ll still need to carry water).
- Barramundi and mangrove jack can be caught right through these systems, but are more prevalent in the brackish reaches.
- Start early as there is usually a bite window in the mornings around dawn when topwater offerings are taken freely. A second topwater bite window usually occurs in the late afternoon and fish can be caught on small hard bodies or soft plastics through the day. It’s best to work your way through the system moving in one direction for most of the day as pools tend to shut down for a period after they are disturbed. At the end of the day you can work your way back to your parking spot, putting in a handful of casts at prime structure as you head back.
Luke’s Tackle And Lure Selections
- For the brackish zones when barra to around 75cm and 40-50cm mangrove jack are a possibility Luke uses a Samurai Infinite 3-6kg Spin Stick with a 3000 size reel, 12lb braided line and a 20lb leader.
- In the fresher water upstream where it’s often necessary to trek through tangled vegetation that might damage a rod, Luke likes the Samurai Cruiser 4 piece travel rod, which is a high quality option that comes with a hard case and a spare tip section. This is matched to a 2000 or 2500 size reel, 8lb braided line and a 10lb leader.
- Fluorocarbon leaders are necessary due to the clarity of the water.
- Bassday Sugar Pen stickbaits and similar small topwater lures are perfect for the early morning and late afternoon topwater bites.
- Atomic shiner 75mm hard bodies are a good choice when the sun gets higher and the fish move away from surface feeding.
- Atomic fat grub curl tail soft plastics with a variety of jig heads and weedless hooks complete the basic lure selection.