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Cairns Fishing Update

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Cairns Fishing Update

Postby Fishcairns » Sun Jul 25, 2004 5:43 am


Brrrrrrrr!……its cold up here. Well it is for our locals anyway, but I’m sure all those southern and international visitors appreciate "winter" in the tropics. Day time temps are in the mid to late 20’s while the nights have dropped right down to 10-12 degrees, even colder up on the tablelands. We had a very cold snap last week which has certainly had an adverse effect on the fishing in the rivers & estuaries (refer below).

River & Estuary:

The waters are very clean and quite cold. This has really put the main river species into lock down mode and it has been very difficult to extract much of quality while the water temperature has fallen below 16 degrees. The usual winter targets have even slowed down apart from the pikey bream, which are spawning on every bit of deep-water structure at present. They are active and hungry and take quite large baits meant for other quarry.

Prior to this cold snap however there were plenty of medium size queenies and trevally in the estuaries along with quality grunter to 60cm and flathead to 70cm coming from the gutters and shallow sandbars. I also know of one guide who managed a hall of a dozen barra from a deep-water snag using big live prawn baits. Just on the top of the tide did the trick and it was just before the mercury plunge.

As soon as it warms up a few degrees, and probably on the next moon phase, we will see quality queenfish and trevally enter these systems.

Blue water scene:

There is a real buzz about at the moment…..the only problem however has been the constant southeast winds blowing at 20-25 knots most days and keeping all but the larger reef vessels in port. This is a typical winter pattern and anglers must be patient and well prepared, to get a quick days fishing in when the winds drop between those ceaseless high-pressure systems travelling across the bight and into the Tasman.

Those lucky enough to time it right have been rewarded big time – we are seeing one of the best winter fishing seasons for ages.

For starters the cooler water is bringing the prime eating reds (coral trout, red emperor & nannygai) into the shallow reefs and they are fat and hungry. Make sure you know the new reef zoning’s though…there is no excuse, and heavy fines, for fishing within the new green / conservation areas and its every anglers responsibility to know these new areas and more to the point, know where they are on the water.

Charter skippers are reporting huge numbers of quality spaniards, the biggest I know of weighing in at 35kg’s……..multiple hook ups are the norm lately so get your floating pillies, trolled gar and bibless lures out into the water. These are quality eating fish too so handle them correctly and have the rewards on the table.

Other targets include dolphin fish (mahi mahi), queenfish, various tuna and juvenile black marlin – some of the smaller boats are having great success on these baby blacks to 50kgs.

Heavy Tackle:

Its not long to go before we will be right into another Heavy Tackle season and the skippers are itching to get amongst them after two years of quality fishing. The current catches of juveniles are a sure sign of bigger and better things to come. The fleet comes under very heavy pressure during September / October & November, with anglers from around the globe descending on our region to sample one of the most reliable big fishing zones in the world.

One of our mates, Kim Andersen, is as I write heading to the Gold Coast to take delivery or a new vessel for the season. The 40-ft Blackwatch "First Class" was custom built for a southern boat show and only has about 70 hours on the clock. If she scrubs up as well in the flesh as she does in the images, she will be a fabulous addition to the fleet and we are looking forward to helping Kim fill her up with keen anglers.

Cape York:

The cooler months are prime time for big queenfish, trevally, spaniards, longtail tuna and salmon up the cape. Sure the barra can be a bit slow at this time of year, but casting poppers to metre long queenies, having them gyrate all over the ocean prior to landing and release is a lovely way to raise a thirst I can assure you. We still have a few vacancies for our live aboard charter options out of Weipa and Princess Charlotte Bay so get in early to experience some of the wildest fishing in OZ.

The peak pre wet season period (October & November) is almost booked while the "run off", arguably the best time of the year to target barra is coming under very heavy booking pressure indeed. Many anglers missed out this year and have got in early and already committed for April / May 2005. Don’t miss out again!

(Read my report on the Mantaray trip I undertook this year – over 800 barras in 14 days!)

We are very pleased to welcome a new addition to our charter stable, operating out of Cooktown, Gone Fishing, offers calm water charters to the local rivers up there. Cooktown is a magic place; steeped in history and a place every Aussies should get to once in a lifetime. We will be adding other charter options to the Cooktown section in time to cover the productive reef and offshore blue water marlin scene – watch this space.

Reef Zoning:

Many anglers will be aware of the massive changes under way within this World Heritage protected marine park. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the natural wonders of the world, the only living thing being able to be seen from space. The authorities have deemed it to under severe threat from various man made and natural influences and locked away over 30% as green zones. For all the up to date information on this and other related matters please check out the Great Barrier Reef Marina Parks official web site.

Although these measures will effect some operators, closing down some of their traditional fishing zones, the industry as a whole are confident of sustaining the quality fishing that anglers have come to expect from our waters. In fact most of the Cape York operators are not effected one iota by these new measures apart from the east coast spawning closures – a set of three 9 days total reef closures to allow coral trout spawning – which will limit blue water operations for this period.

We are looking forward to some very exciting fishing in the coming few months, winter is almost over and we will soon be complaining that the weather is too hot and the barra are busting us off in the snags…….Ah! Life in paradise.

See you on the water.

Regards, Les Marsh
The complete anglers guide to Australia's Great Barrier Reef and Tropical north Queensland - from marlin to barra - heavy tackle game, light tackle sport, lure & fly fishing - we cover the lot
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2003 10:50 pm
Location: Cairns, Australia

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