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Fishing Reports

August 25, 2002 - Volume 6 Issue 5

You can almost smell it in the air; there is a subtle change and its looking fantastic – SPRING I mean.

The days are certainly starting to warm up but the nights are still cool enough to have a good nights sleep without the use of air conditioning. There has even been a bit of much needed rain about. The humidity is rising. All natural signals for our prime fish species (barra, jacks, queenies in the rivers, black marlin & sails in the blue) to increase feeding activity prior to spawning.

And it the signal for all fishing fanatics to get ready for some truly magic months ahead.

Rivers & Estuary

As mentioned previously we are in the middle of our peak tourist season in Cairns, we all know about "making hay while the sun shines" etc……well she who must be obeyed has not allowed me to get my usual weekly FIX (fishing I mean, not drugs) and I have become a little cranky of late. Driving over the Barron River each morning while dropping the kids at school, seeing the waters surface like a mirror and noting the tides were just perfect for an afternoon assault and not being "allowed" to go……you know what I mean.

Well I put my foot down yesterday and said that’s It, I’ve had enough of this frustration and I’m going fishing tomorrow no matter what. Of course you can darling was her instant reply, must have known that I would not back down this time.

It was a fairly early start on Saturday as I swung by to pick up my fishing mate Terry Holman. We drove towards the highway, still unsure of where to go for the day……maybe the Daintree….no its too far as we both had orders to be back before 5.00pm.

What about the Russell / Mulgrave…..No, too much boat traffic on weekends. We continued south and at the last minute decided to try the Johnstone River at Innisfail. Terry had been doing quite well there the past few weeks, its not a renown barra river if cricket scores are your go but the variety and fishing options make it a very interesting choice for the thinking angler.

It was high tide at about 9.30 so we would just catch the last of the run in tide. Terry suggested we try some shallow flats for flathead. These fish are not readily targeted here in the Tropics, most anglers preferring the more glamorous species but make no mistake, they make an excellent option during the cooler months. Using shallow running lures, buck tail jigs or rubber tails can prove dynamite in the shallow and knowing their ambush points increased your luck considerably. They put on a spirited, dogged fight and on light spinning tackle can travel quite long distances in the skinny water. Back off the drag and enjoy.

On about my third cast the lure was stopped dead in its tracks, the flathead tore off to the side (the tensions was starting to ease) and I was stoked to be into something again. I landed another two and Terry finally got into the act before we decided to move to another point as the tide was now falling away quite quickly.

We switched to buck tail jigs here and again had instant rewards – quality flathead came steadily to the boat – we ended up landing ten flatties for the day, all legal size and all between 60 –70 cm.

Now we just didn’t flay the flats, we constantly changed our targets as the day wore on and the tide dropped away. We targeted barra up in the shallows, barra in the snags and barra in the gutters. Hell you just can’t get away for giving them a go can you; they are just the best.

We moved up and down the inter tidal zone throughout the day, local knowledge being the secret here and Terry’s skills at reading the water once again produced the goods.

And the end score, ten quality flatties, four barra (missed another three), one jack, five small trevally and Oh I almost forgot……..We had one short exhilarating session where we landed four plump, acrobatic, sky leaping, silver bullets….tarpon. On the light jigging gear it was fantastic fun.

It was two very satisfied anglers that pulled the pin early, we actually winched the boat back on the trailer at 3.30 pm, and were on our way home well within our time limit. The only regret for the day…….forgot to take my bloody camera didn’t I !!!!

Now this is just a taste of what is to come – as we approach summer the fishing from the rivers, estuaries, rocky headlands, inshore and offshore just gets better and better. And for remote Cape York and the Hinchinbrook regions – hang on to your hats.

Rocky Headlands / Inshore Sport Fishing / Blue Water

The calmer conditions have certainly improved the catch rate here too and our guides are reporting quality catches of spotted and spanish mackerel to 15 kg’s, occasional coral trout, GT’s and bludger trevally as well as big and small mouth reds from the reef.

Out wide there are more spaniards, yellowfin tuna and the occasional sailfish.

Light Tackle Sport / Heavy Tackle Game

The season is upon us (it snuck up quickly this year) and if early indications are a true sign of things to come, we are in for a bumper. The difficulty now however is finding suitable boats for the prime October / November months – most skippers are nearly totally booked. We have just added a new "day boat" to our stable however. The 34ft Reel Work open Bridgedeck design will be available for charter from 1st October to end of December and comes under the Kim Andersen / New Moon stable so we know it’s a quality operation. She will be available for sole and share charter, light & heavy tackle. Check the full vessel profile via our web site links.

The following report is provided courtesy of Kim Andersen.

Normally early September sees the capture of the first Blacks outside the Reef. On Friday August 2, I took a punt that the Heavy Tackle season had arrived following clear water inside the reef and warm 25-degree water outside the reef. After a successful scad fishing session we dropped the big baits in the water at 12 O'clock. At 1220 the left rigger bait disappeared and 250lb of marlin appeared with the circle hook well locked in the corner of it's jaw.

At 1235 we tagged and released the first marlin of the 2002 heavy tackle season! Just to prove it wasn't a fluke, we followed that with a 150lb fish and then a 100lb fish on 20lb.

3 bites 3 fish tagged!

Saturday August the 3rd was the first day of the Cairns light tackle tournament. At 0821 we released the first marlin of the 2002 light tackle season a little 25lb fish. This was the first day that the little blacks arrived and a few boats had trouble keeping them on the hook, one boat went 0 from 5.

The tournament was won by the team on DON"T KNOW and champion male angler was Rob McCollough (My relief skipper and skipper of our new boat Reel Work). New Moon finished second and Wendy Wall was champion female angler.

On Sunday August 4th, Alan Wall released my best weight to line ratio marlin with a 230lb black marlin tagged and released on 12lb line!!! - in just over an hour.

So things are looking up for the coming year

Cape York – from Gary Wright at Seisia

Tuna and top water fish were running hot one day in one location and shutting down the next. But the coastal catches of all mackerel species have been improving by the week with doggies and small spaniards taken in numbers off the Seisia Wharf and around the creek and river mouths.

Most visitors and guides have continued to enjoy some good fishing in all the estuaries on the west coast. Tarpon, queenfish and trevally are being caught at the rate of 30 to 40 fish in hot 2-hour sessions. A mix of bumpa-bars (locally made chrome slices), flasha spoons and bait have produced some tiring, but enjoyable, day trips for first time anglers to the Cape.

Barramundi catches haven't been good overall this year; water temperatures that are slightly lower than average, especially in the freshwater have probably contributed to the lack of reported catches.

Tournament Calendar / Heavy tackle

The inaugural "The Big Fish Festival" gets under way from the brand new Port Hinchinbrook Resort, Caldwell from 6th – 9th September 2002. With $25,000 in cash and trophies to be won its sure to be a popular event. Contact the organisers on 07 5528 1200 if wanting further info and an entry form.

The first marlin tournament of the season gets under way from Townsville next weekend, the 31st August. This popular tournament will pit the regions best skippers and crew against each other and my mate Kim Andersen (a predominant place getter each year) will be relocating New Moon III down their for the event. He has asked me to help him relocate the vessel next week – I was very reluctant to take time off just to have a leisurely cruise down the Great Barrier Reef, fishing all the way in pleasant company, tossing lures and poppers at monster GT’s, stocking the esky with a few quality fillets and even targeting a few billies out wide…but in the end sanity prevailed and I have decided to go AGAIN!

See you on the water,
Les Marsh


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