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Cairns Fishing Update

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Cairns Fishing Update

Postby Fishcairns » Sat Nov 27, 2004 11:43 pm


Well summer is just around the corner and you can feel the temperatures creeping up along with the humidity. It won’t be long before we get a few afternoon thunderstorms and then, hopefully, we will have another good "wet" season with heaps of rain to flush our rivers and re stock our precious water supplies. It never used to be an apprehensive time, but with a couple of failed wet seasons of late, we now release that the world’s weather IS changing.

This is a fabulous time to fish Tropical North Queensland as many of our prime species are active and hungry prior to spawning. This applies to the blue water, estuary and river scene……obviously species like our famous barramundi are just waiting for that first fresh (that’s why we have a closed season for the taking of barra from 1st November to 1st February each year). But mangrove jacks, fingermark and of course our equally famous giant black marlin out from the Ribbons are here to do their thing.

River & Estuary:

Water temps. are certainly in the high range of tolerance right now, and at 30C its almost too warm upstream for the barra’s to be active. But they are certainly so down in the river mouths / tidal zone and its obvious that the bigger breeders, the headland barra, are starting to move into the estuaries. Its also pleasing to see that juvenile barra, results of recent stockings, are doing quite well in the rivers. Especially the Russell / Mulgrave and North & South Johnstone where these relatively small fish are hitting lures aggressively around the snags on the bottom of the tides.

Jacks, jacks and more jacks was the go recently where almost every snag held a good population of these lure crunching / prawn loving / sardine striking marauding brutes. The incoming tide seems to be working much better than the run off lately. Just anchor down stream of any likely structure, cast your offering as hear as you dare and hold on for a brief but spirited fight. Don’t be surprised to land a few of their cousins also, the beautifully marked and fabulous eating, Fingermark (chopper bream, golden snapper or whatever you call them). They have appeared in our estuary zones in quality this season. Deep water structure is one of their preferred habitats and I know from personal experience that many are "unstoppable" on standard light tackle outfits……..beef up if you want to land some copper beauties.

Other targets include trevally, queenfish, estuary cod, grunter, sickle fish and bream. And for lure tossers please note, there are heaps of small / medium barracuda in the systems. Be prepared for their sudden strike, often right at the boat, and a few lure losses as well as their dog like teeth often slice through heavy mono leaders.

I briefly mentioned that water temperature previously. I believe we badly need some rain right now to put a bit of fresh into our systems, cool things down by a couple of degrees and even cloud the water a bit. The water, especially upstream in our rivers, is too clear for our predators to hide and ambush passing prey (and lures) and a heavy downpour, overnight of course, will do wonders for the fishery.

Blue water scene:

Fishing has been very good; it’s the uncertainty regarding the new 9-day reef closures that are causing the most headaches. Guides and charter operators are just tearing their hair out. Having to turn away customers during some of the calmest offshore weather of the year, when you know your absolute viability / survival is reliant on these satisfied customers and repeat business and the continuity of business that comes form booking agents, travel agents, inbound operators etc that have confidence in your business………….well, its absolutely devastating. "Sorry, I can’t take your clients fishing until next week" is not the answer these agents want to hear after having done the hard work in selling the option in the first place.

There is even some evidence coming to light that the authorities have GOT IT ALL WRONG anyway and that the dates involved, these special times to allow coral trout to spawn in peace, are in fact not correct. The actual spawning takes place in August and September………there are a lot of unhappy anglers / skippers / agents / tackle shop proprietors etc out there at the moment and they want some answers.

When the light tackle anglers have ventured outside, the rewards have certainly been there. Monster spanish mackerel, trevally, cobia and large mouth nannygai are making many an angler very happy indeed.

Heavy Tackle:

As you know the black marlin season is in full swing, anglers come from around the globe to tangle with monster fish, many over that magic 1,000lb mark. Modern game boats, luxury motherships, the finest of tackle, expert skippers and crew and the expectations of skilled and highly motivated anglers in a mix of camaraderie that is rarely matched anywhere in the world. These guys fish and play hard.

Although the actual number of marlin tagged and released this season is down slightly on last years brilliant results, the skippers are telling me that the consistency of catches has certainly made up for the lack of cumulative numbers. We are not seeing many fishless days said noted skipper Kim Andersen. Both extended live aboard options and day trips out of Cairns are producing quality marlin, Rick Eustace of M.V. Billfish advised having one of his best seasons on record.

The ladies only Ribbons tournament gets under way early next month and for the fist time my wife Pam has decided to brave the open seas and signed up with Rick & crew on Billfish. Unfortunately I’m only invited as an observer and am only allowed to watch the ladies fish, have a few drinks and socialise……how droll!

Cape York:

The season is starting to wind down now, the live aboard options and day charters out of the likes of Weipa & Seisia close for the traditional summer wet. Its not that the fishing is bad, but rather that the conditions are too severe for the average visiting angler. Hight temperatures, stifling humidity and torrential rain and thunderstorms, make for an unpredictable fishery. This past year has been an excellent one by all reports. I was fortunately enough to fish from the Mantaray this past October and although fishing was a bit slower that my trip in April, we still landed over 200 barras for the five days………still not bad eh!

Bookings for next season are rolling in with a lot of pent up demand from anglers who missed out on prime conditions this year. The post wet season run off is best for creek work if barra is your go or the middle, cooler months is best for the nearshore tuna and trevally fishery. Peaking again for the barras in October & November. Don’t overlook the quality nearshore & estuary fishing (lure & fly) for giant herring, queenfish, golden and other trevally, spanish mackerel and longtail tuna………..but please don’t delay in booking, as the guides are absolutely flat out for most of the year these days. The quality of this fishery has seen demand from experienced anglers from around the globe skyrocket this past two seasons.

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.

Personally I can’t wait for the wet season to bucket down, some of the best fishing of the year can be had way upstream in our flooded rivers chasing barras, jacks, trevally, sooty grunter, tarpon and jungle perch….send it down Huey!

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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