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Garry Smith FishTalk Tune in to ABC Radio's Garry Smith at his FishTalk web site for more local fishing news.

Jan 25, 2005 - Volume 9 Issue 1

Happy New Year!

After a couple of "failed" wet seasons on the trot, this year looks like returning to normal weather patterns. Last week the monsoon trough (the line that marks the convergence of cooler southern air with warm moist air streaming down from the equatorial regions) hovered right over the Cape and dumped a heap of rain on northern OZ.

The Daintree River / Mossman region, just over an hours drive north of Cairns, received over 600mm of rain in just 4 days. Now that certainly put a "fresh" into the system.........Fresh, how often have you tried to fish in red tomato soup? Not a good mix I can assure you.

River & Estuary:

Well, as per my above report, trying to fish in swollen, dirty rivers just does not produce good results I'm afraid. However, after allowing a couple of days for the river to settle, to allow the sediment to drop out and clean up the water and hey presto - the fish are active and very hungry. Casting small surface popper lures around bank side vegetation, back eddies, fallen logs and small rocky rapids can produce surprising results on our jungle fish.

Sooty grunter just love these conditions and fish to 4 pounds can be pulled from surprisingly fast flowing, shallow water. The jungle perch seem to like the dark shady spots under overhanging trees. The juvenile barra love the undercut banks, swamp grass verges, swaying ribbon grass and any gutter or drain bringing discoloured water to the main river. While mangrove jacks are literally where you find them. Don't be surprised to encounter tarpon and trevally species either - I just love fishing this time of year.

Scale down your tackle to match the targets of course - I use a light 6-7 ft high modulus rod with 8-10 lb braid, a 15 lb mono leader and 2 inch poppers in various colours. The Rebel Pop R range being one of my favourites along with Daiwa TD Poppers (if you can find them).

Be prepared to work the various river systems to find clean water though. Only last week I had to travel south to the North Johnstone, found it too dirty. Turned around and came back to the Russell River, launched and travel upstream for about half an hour until I was blocked at the Babinda bridge crossing (water too high to get under). Back out and travelled north again to the Mulgrave, another half-hour flat out upstream and again was blocked by one of the train tracks - the waters being too high to squeeze a match under the bridge let alone a 5 metre punt.

Oh well, we drifted downstream and fished the cleaner back waters and small creeks for a few prime Jungle Perch (one went to 2 kilos), cast at drains for barra using the ever reliable gold Bomber and missed six, hooked up to three and lost the lot.........that's fishing.

We still had a great adventure though and the client was able to analyse the situation and see what maybe one more days fine weather could have produced. But this was his only free day so we just went and had fun regardless. Fishing during the wet is like that, take it as it comes and do your best. Be persistent and you will eventually crack the code and score that big bag.

Blue Water Scene:

Unfortunately the conditions have not been god out on the blue, that monsoon weather pattern bringing variable SE, E, NE and NW winds to 20 knots keeping most boats in the marina. Confused, how do you think the average boatie is faring.

When operators have been able to get out there the fishing has been quite good. Still plenty of big loner spaniards about. Tossing chrome sliced lures near structure a few weeks ago produced a couple of spaniards, a cobia (black kingfish), some mack tuna and one of the biggest, meanest, big toothed barracuda that I had ever seen. It actually lunged at my mates hands as he tried to free the hooks.

Cape York:

All closed down for the "wet" - these guys need a break from the hectic, full on dry season so we don't hear or see much of them for a few months. Makes it hard to confirm bookings however as they are probably spending time in a southern Pub, tackle shop or boat builders workshop planning that new addition to their fleet. One of the peak times to fish up there is just after the wet, early April to May BUT most guides are already booked out so you had better get cracking if you want to experience some of the best light tackle sportfishing available on the planet. I fished out of Weipa last year, a two-week stint on the Mantaray, and we landed over 800 barra for the fortnight. (All but a couple were released, keeping only a few for the table). That's not counting the trevally, mangrove jacks, queenfish, bream, archerfish, saratoga, giant herring, spanish mackerel, golden trevally, longtail tuna..........

Hopefully I'm off to the Daintree River tomorrow with my fishing mate Terry Holman of Fish Hunter fame. If we can land a couple a dozen jungle perch, ten tarpon, a few sooties, maybe a handful of jacks and you never know a pesky barramundi or six may accidentally hit one of my lures - its still the closed season you know - I'll have a great day.

See you on the water,
Les Marsh



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