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Fishing Reports

April 27, 2002 - Volume 6 Issue 3

Strange weather patterns are continuing here in the Tropical North. After one of the best Easter periods ever, the south-east winds returned with a vengeance and blew everything out of the water for almost two weeks. We had some good rainfall at last and the Cape even had some flooding. I hope the barras at least had a chance to spawn, we need those stocks to regenerate each year or we will have depleted gaps in the year cycles – not good for a healthy fishery.

Many southerners took advantage of the early break to the wet season and headed to the Gulf waters over Easter to participate in the various river / estuary fishing competitions that have become such a tradition up there. Quality barra, salmon and jacks were landed and some lucky anglers returned with substantial cash prizes and trophies.

Rivers & Estuary

With such a poor "wet" the rivers did not receive their usually flushing – only time will tell if this has any long term detrimental effect to the fish stocks as many species use these flooding conditions to spawn. This past month I continued my upstream assault with the light spinning tackle and found plenty of willing takers. We switched to small minnow lures in the cooler water (poppers during summer) and found this did the trick landing on average 30 fish per session. Juvenile barra, heaps of sooty grunter (fresh water black bream) jungle perch and mangrove jacks coming from surprisingly shallow waters. On most outings we had to drag the vessel over the rock bars to enable upstream access to the productive pools – in past years it would have been a breeze to zoom up at full throttle.

Even though fish sizes are not monstrous, the quality of the natural surroundings, the variety of species and being able to catch plucky fish on matched tackle is just awesome. You don’t need to catch big fish to enjoy the sport – a fact that many trout fisherman have kept "secret" for years.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many quality barra, jacks, queenies and trevally to target down in the salt but don’t underestimate the value & pleasure of a trip to the sweet water sections of our rivers. Not all guides are proficient here however, Terry Holman and Kim Andersen being the exceptions and many clients are returning with glowing reports of their efforts.

Trinity Inlet too has seen signs of an early season change, pikey bream are schooling up on any large structure while other targets at this time include sickle fish, bat fish, grunter, flathead and estuary cod. Scale down your tackle for these winter species.

And if your into a bit of fishing in comfort, a pleasant cruise around Cairns harbour and a feed of succulent north Queensland mud crabs, a session with Great Day Fishing & Crabbing Tours is the go. Check it out at…Crabbing Tour.

Rocky Headlands / Sport Fishing

The cooler conditions has seen the unexpected arrival of our prime "winter" targets – narrow barred & spotted mackerel - big and small mouth nannygai, trevally and queenfish are about and in surprising numbers and quality for so early in the season. Spanish mackerel to 23 kg have been landed from the near shore grounds.

We are very proud to announce the addition of a brand new charter option to the Fishing Cairns stable. John Massey has just commissioned his brand new and superbly built six metre Cairns Custom Craft "Barra Tracker". John’s operation covers the tidal estuaries, near shore islands and coastal regions and is an exclusive to Fishing Cairns. An exciting day out if light tackle sport fishing is your go.

The Reef

Robert Erskine of Erskine’s Tackle Shop reports that the cold weather certainly has the reds moving onto the shallower inshore reefs and rubble patches which makes them far more accessible to those fishing from smaller vessels. Coral trout are also about as well as some big spaniards.

I reported last month about the proposed reef fishing closure – a total of 27 days during our peak fishing / tourist season, 9 days during September, October and November - to coincide with the spawning cycle of coral trout. This issue has raised some ire within the charter fishing industry and any interested party is strongly urged to contact their MP or fishing industry representative by e-mail, phone and fax if wishing to have any input before the bureaucrats have legislation set in stone.

Blue Water / Sport Fishing

I touched briefly on the potential of the G.T. popper fishing last month, Kim Andersen of New Moon III has just phoned in his latest report.

Kim was operating on the reef flats out from Innisfail and reports landing 27 G.T.’s for the day including five fish over 50 lb, one of 65 and another of 75lb. The clients were suitably impressed although their aching backs, bruised groins, stretched arms etc will be remembered for a while.

Cape York – from Gary Wright at Seisia

The fishing has fired up this week as the weather improved and guides have been bumping into small pods of surface fish on both coastlines.

Queenfish have been the most common but the usual (harder to catch) mack tuna have been showing up in numbers on the west coast. The barra catches have been steadily improving and the best catch this week was an afternoon session that produced 33 barra from a short section of one creek. Top scorer was American, Bradley Nuremberg with 25 (one of our happy clients) This is the best personal catch by any barra angler this year.

Some big mangrove jacks have been taken on bait, also from the west coast and anglers have experienced some monumental bust offs on fingermark and jacks in heavy cover. Blue salmon have also provided some sport in the shallows on cast spoons, but the average weight is down on previous catches.

Fishing Media

Its not often that we get the chance to plug a locally produced TV angling show. Originating out of Townsville, Fish ‘n’ 4 Wheels is one of the better ones. The natural, laid back matter of fact approach is certainly a revelation – stories are relevant to fishing our region and show the viewer how to do it and are not just selling the presenter or an endorsed product. Keep up the good work guys.

Fish ‘n’ 4 Wheels can be seen on the Ten network in Cairns, check local guides for details.

See you on the water,
Les Marsh


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