Fishing activity has gathered early momentum this year with a change in the season arriving early. Warm temperatures, moderate rainfall and high humidity kicked in during September. These conditions are not usually expected until later in the year, but it is good news for all anglers!
The heavy tackle scene has fired early this year on our local grounds with black marlin being recorded consistently from early September, and it continues to prosper.
Proceedings started with 200-300lb puppies playing ball then the bigger models to 800lb soon turned up. The big marlin are here to breed with the smaller stallions and are proving to be in an active mood. Vessels are averaging 2-3 hook-ups per day and late afternoon is the hot bite period. Staying on the water overnight is best and allows anglers to fish right until dusk maximising this bite time. If current trends continue, last year’s record catches could be easily surpassed with plenty of time left on the clock before the big marlin move away from the area.
Traditionally our marlin season starts winding up by mid December and it will be interesting to see if the momentum can continue until this date, considering the season kicked in earlier than expected. Last year November was the peak period for marlin catches in the region and fingers crossed this proves true again.
Port Douglas is hosting its inaugural Marlin Challenge catch and release tournament between the 11-16 November with 25 game fishing boats competing for honours. It promises to be a great event for the region and in due course we’ll forward a full run down on the event.
Between the coast and the outer reef, the tuna and mackerel schools are going into overdrive feeding on the small bait fry, which is in abundance. There are a variety of pelagic schools roaming the waters in packs including longtail tuna, mac tuna, school mackerel and spotted mackerel. Also moving in at times have been big Spanish mackerel, which are predominantly feeding underneath the main schools, and varieties of trevally are also cashing in on the rich supply of food.
You need to match the hatch in this case and small shiny metal lures cast and retrieved at high speed amongst the boiling surface action is being rewarded handsomely. At times the feeding activity is spasmodic but a bit of patience, luck and a keen eye looking for birdlife and any surface commotion will hold you in good stead. This style of fishing should continue to fire for the next couple of months leading up to the wet season proper.
With calmer conditions expected for this time of year it is an ideal opportunity for the small boat brigade to enjoy some light tackle sport fishing.
Further offshore the reef fishing opportunities have been super consistent. Coral trout have really come to the forefront and once their spawning process has been completed they feed like there’s no tomorrow. They congregate to certain areas of the reef, complete the breeding process and then need to rejuvenate themselves with a good feed. The bonus for anglers is that they can become easy pickings and reaching bag limits is quite common during this time.
Other species to show consistent form have included large- and small-mouth nannygai, cobia, sweetlip, trevally species and red emperor have shown up in considerably better numbers this year.
While reef fishing, floating baits have been hammered by the Spanish mackerel of late and this only adds to the quality of the reef fishing on offer. As the water temperature rises from here on the fishing will taper off to a certain degree but one would have to say it is been an impressive year for reef fin species.
Closer to home the rivers and creeks are offering myriad species and it is a bit of a lottery draw as to what might end up on the end of your line. Queenfish, golden trevally, GT, estuary cod, mangrove jack, fingermark, grunter, barramundi, flathead, tarpon, shovel-nose ray, bream, wolf herring and hair-tail have made an impact at one stage or another.
The incoming tides have offered the best fishing overall for the above species but the outgoing tides have been even better for the barra and jacks, particularly if you are lure fishing. It is a great time to be peppering away up our local creeks and rivers with so many fish on the move. It is hot, hard work but the results are worth the effort.
Now is the most consistent time to be fishing for our inshore species before the wet season kicks. Be aware the barra closures started on the 1 November and these species must be released for the time being.
With all forms of fishing producing the goods, now is the time to be out amongst it and taking advantage of the plethora of fish available in the tropics.Reads: 1994