By this time of year the predominant westerly winds have arrived and the warm humid days are getting longer. The blue water fishing slows down and the hunt for the barramundi and threadfin start taking over. By early November the water temperature hovers around the 28 degree mark and slowly increases through the wet season.
A lot has been documented about Barramundi so today we will talk about another exciting sportfish; the Queenfish or Queenie. During the dry season when the water is at its coolest the Queenies generally hang out by our local reefs around structures where they can ambush their prey, however when the temperature of the water reaches 26 degrees around late September, the fish will start moving closer to the shore making easy targets for shore based anglers. Theres just about nothing I enjoy more than heading down to deep entrance point (located at the Port where the iconic Broome Fishing Club is) to target these skinny water speedsters.
Times to target these fish are generally on a large spring low tide where the rocks are exposed and can walk out nearing the channel markers. Combine this low tide with a sunset or sunrise and the action can be spectacular. Although come Christmas time they can be caught on any tide in that dawn/dusk period.
Lures are the go for these guys and generally the smaller the better. We have great success with small metal slices around the 20gr mark with gold being the colour of choice especially around the dawn and dusk period. Light spin gear is also required to get the distance and the speed required to provoke a strike. They will also take small sliders, stick baits and plastics. Use light leader, 40lb max and avoid using steel traces.
The eating quality of the Queenfish is ok but definitely not the best in the sea. They do not freeze well so if you are going to take one home for tea, bleed the fish immediately and set aside on ice. Pan or BBQ fry for a couple of minutes each side being carefule not to overcook. There are no size limits for Queenfish but we find the smaller ones definitely taste better.
Saying all that, smoking Queenfish is probably the BEST tasting fish I have ever eaten. Bold statement I know considering my freezer constantly has everything from Coral Trout to Bluebone. The secret is (obviously a smoker) but to marinate the fillets in a salt and brown sugar brine and left in the fridge overnight but even half an hour or so will do the trick.
Hot smoke those badboys and you’ll never look back.
Hope this helps a little bit guys. Fish for the future and not for the freezer and take only photos and leave only footprints. Tight lines till nextime fellow fishers!!