08 September 2001 - Volume 5 Issue 5
Firstly I must apologise for the delay in producing this update, but I do have an excuse!
I have been very busy doing day trips to our pristine tropical rivers, full day reef fishing charters on the Great Barrier Reef, overnight charters chasing small marlin and hordes of "reds" and more recently, helping my game skipper mate, Kim Andersen of New Moon III relocate the vessel to Townsville for the first tournament of the season – the Townsville Billfish Challenge.
Now this is a sh--- job but someone has to do it, and who better than yours truly!
Nature has mysterious ways and just like the flick of the switch the Cairns region has undergone a transformation from winter to pre summer mode. The winds have shifted to the north – northeast, the seas are currently like glass, the air temperature has jumped several degrees to almost thirty and the fish are on the bite in a big way.
Rivers & Estuary
What a transformation – big barras are chewing their heads off on the prime tides as are good quality mangrove jacks, trevally, queenfish, grunter and flathead. Some of the best estuary and river fishing seen for ages is currently underway and it will only get better for the next few months.
Plenty of succulent prawns are about for the cast nets but remember that in possession limits do apply. Most mud flat zones will produce these prime baits at low tide with both the estuary and the Daintree River full of them at present.
The Daintree has been producing good numbers of barra, floating live prawns into the deep snags has done the trick on many occasions while metre long queenfish are hanging about the mouth. A few are still being caught at the mouth of the Russell / Mulgrave system also.
The Hinchinbrook Channel region is really starting to fire. This huge protected waterway offers superb fishing and since the closure to commercial netting a few years ago the increased quality of the fishing, and of barra in particular, is very pleasing to note. One local angler reported trolling up six barras from 85 to 102 cm late one afternoon recently, many more healthy specimens were lost with their acrobatic jumps throwing the hooks. Guides are reporting landing on average 15/20 barras a day along with jacks, trevally, cod, queenies etc.
Only two days ago Terry Holman from Fish Hunter and myself lured the magic waters of the North Johnson and landed eleven barra (lost / missed another dozen), three jacks, two flathead and four small trevally – just another one of those "working" assignments!
Well I can certainly speak from personal experience here; the fish are on the chew. We left them biting after a few hectic sessions on big and small mouth nannygai, at one stage the skipper was actually hand feeding pillies to the fish at the back of the boat - right in front of his Japanese clients - who were suitably impressed. These fish will rise to the surface following their hooked schoolmates and selective angling to chosen fish is possible. Trust me, I have actually done it!
Coral trout are not so numerous; pressure from the live export trade regularly blamed for the declining numbers of this much sought after species. The usual sweet lips, long nosed emperor or red throats make up the balance of the catch along with the stripies, various trevally and moses perch.
It has been a relatively poor season for mackerel anglers, they just did not show up in the usual numbers this year and now, with the rapidly warming seas, we may have missed the boat. Tim from Eco Sportfisher however has reported landing some monster spaniards from some secret inshore wrecks, fish to 20kg not uncommon. Drifting wolf herring or jigging bumpa-bar lures the go. He has also landed quality metre long queenfish and G.T.’s to 40+ lb. The rocky headlands have already started to produce some quality barra and this zone too will only get better as we approach summer.
Blue Water / Game Fishing
Well its hard to believe that the marlin season is already upon us with the first tournament of the season, the Townsville Billfish Challenge, getting underway last Sunday 2nd September. Kim Andersen aboard New Moon III tagged and released three blacks on the first day to lead this prestigious event. The tournament was eventually won by Reel Chase with New Moon III coming second. The first monster black has already been seen if not landed, a skipper on a light tackle charter out of Port Douglas reported hooking one estimated at 800lb. This season is shaping up as one of the busiest for years so get in quick if you want to land a grander.
Have any readers ever tried chucking poppers at reef bommies for monster G.T.’s!
Well I did it one day last week while on the Townsville trip – WOW what a buzz! Being bricked by 20/50lb trevally is something else I can tell you. I still have the bruises in my stomach / groin area from the rod butt jammed up hard during the fight. These fish must be one of the hardest fighting fish in the oceans and pound for pound give a fight to be remembered, even if it is just for the sheer exhaustion, aching backs, legs, thighs etc. experienced when dealing with these magnificent fighters. Ten fish in a day is about all I can cope with. If anyone would like to see a few picks of these fish just drop me a quick line and I’d be happy to oblige.
Cape York – Weipa (from Dave Donald)
Light winds with south-westerly sea breezes early in week, last couple of days perfect! Fishing Methods: Lure casting, live baiting and trolling.
"Report: Highlights of the week included some frantic action at the harbour leads and some great lure casting action in the rivers. Monster trevally - It doesn't come any better than that! Seriously bent rods, singing drags and groaning anglers - fine music to any fishers ears.
There were some casualties - one broken rod, split rings that stretched open, straightened trebles, even an internal lure wire pulling out. That was followed by a couple of fairly tough day’s lure casting the rivers, the low water temps making the fish indifferent. Still the family managed to land their first barra each (and another 20 others) besides queenies, cuda, fingermark and cod.
Out on the harbour big spaniards were grabbing cast lures and heading for the horizon. We landed both narrow and broad bars up to 12 kilos in a spectacular session that saw more ruined lures and some big wipe-outs. All but one spaniard was returned to fight another day.
Next day, our barra tally reached 35 landed and plenty more 'long range released', plus more jacks and cod. A spectacular wipe out from a big Qld. groper helped enhance some excellent action." If your thinking about a Cape York fishing expedition now is the time, the next few months will see red hot action as we enter pre summer mode.
Sydney Sport Fishing Expo
Fishing Cairns is proud to support this new and exciting event to be staged from Friday 12th October to Sunday 14th October at the Super Yacht Marine Precinct, James Craig Road, Rozelle Bay (Sydney). For a full run down on events and exhibitors check out www.fishexpo.com.au
Please note that the annual closure for the taking of Barramundi in the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria i.e. the western side of Cape York commences on the 9th October 2001 and runs until 1st February 2002. This is different to the east coast closure, which runs from 1st November to 1st February annually.
New Product / Updates
The new 284-page North Australian Fish Finder will be available soon. This excellent publication now covers half the Australian coast, with chart extracts, aerial photos and maps of the best fishing areas. From Gladstone, Queensland, up and across Cape York, the Gulf of Carpentaria, over the Northern Territory's Top End, the amazing Kimberley and down Western Australia's awesome north-west to Shark Bay. At $24-95 plus postage it offers great value for any angler wishing to target northern fishing options.
Our sister site, the Charter Boat Centre, has just undergone a complete revamp. Check it out and I’m sure you’ll agree that our Web Developer, Greg Slapp of PDIS is just a genius (he hates me saying that). He has also just released the introductory version of our new Fishing Cape York web site, watch for exciting additions to this regional guide coming in the near future.
See you on the water,
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