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Technology or Instinct?
  |  First Published: November 2010



The unseasonal rains we have been experiencing recently have lead many newly acquainted locals to believe we are having an early start to our traditional wet season.

It has been a long time since I can remember wetter months of September and October and one has to wonder whether the fish will become confused. I would imagine there were more than the usual number of early spawnings this year among our barramundi.

November is the beginning of the annual spawning closure on the east coast for barramundi and with such a crazy build up to the wet season there might already be a lot of barra fry swimming around awaiting some heavy rains to complete the early stage of their life cycle... I do hope the rains come sooner rather than later for the fish’s sake.

Over the years when my alarm goes off at 4.00am it sends me into a kind of automatic mode that I morph into. I follow a well-rehearsed routine that gets me ready to leave home with boat in tow in a short space of time. These days I take advantage of the technology and so I found myself recently staring at the Cairns radar loop on my PC at 4.05am before making the decision to proceed on my trip. This particular morning the winds were down but the whole radar screen was covered in heavy rain and so I made the decision to abort the trip and slid myself back into bed. Years ago, before the ease of accessing the weather on radar I would have taken a punt and gone anyway and I somehow regretted not doing that on this occasion as by 8.30am everything turned out fine and we had a beautiful boating day.

Technology has made me more cautious, it has made boating in general a lot safer but in hindsight had I gone with my instinct and put up with a wet bum for a couple of hours I would later have taken advantage of an excellent day and a great fishing opportunity.

The same point should be remembered when actually fishing. There is no substitute for staying in tune with what can be observed around you. Some anglers these days spend most of their time in the boat staring into a screen. Don’t neglect to pick up the fine detail around you, by way of wind, current, tide, bait movement, bird activity, surface activity and what is going on in other boats around you as this information can often put you onto fish a lot quicker than the data you are trying to read from a screen.

What’s happening

Inshore and barramundi are now off the target list, but there were some nice fish taken prior to the closure and no doubt there will be plenty more captured and released over the next 3 months. The conditions are ideal. In the last few weeks there have been good reports of quality fingermark taken on live baits in the deep water of the Cairns Inlet and these magnificent, highly prized fish will be well and truly on the bite over the next few months.

Target them in the deep water sections of the Cairns Inlet and local headlands and do remember they like the slower moving water around the quarter moons. In addition there are still a few mangrove jacks around for those who like to cast a lure, although at this time of the year most of the bigger ones have headed offshore as they vacate the estuaries. Best luring is very early in the morning working the bottom half of the tide when more snags will be exposed. North of Cairns along the beaches and around the mouth of the Baron River there are still a few salmon about and I would expect to catch grunter on the big tides this month on the Esplanade Flats. The local rivers are still producing some nice queenies and a few GT and that should continue until we get enough good rain to cause a full flush.

This month is also an excellent time to chase the big barra up at Lake Tinaroo.

Offshore and the bottom fishing has been less than spectacular with only patchy reports of good fishing. It has been one of those years when I am sure many boat owners would question why they have so many dollars tied up for so little use as another windy weekend rolls by. When the weather has been kind enough to allow boaties to get out there, bottom fishing has produced some reasonable catches including coral trout, red throat emperor and some reds. This should be a good month for night fishing offshore in the deep water wide of the reefs for the reds but take care as it will be a time when storms can creep in.

There are still a few mackerel around although the presence of sharks has been posing a constant problem for any boat hooking up to the mackerel.

Looking ahead and things should improve on the weather front and gift us up some more opportunities to get out there and land a few coral trout before the water temperatures get too high.

Don’t forget about the last Coral Reef Fin Fish Closure for the year which according to QLD DPI Fisheries website will occur on November 3 to 7 inclusive. According to fisheries scientists the closures that are in place every year, coincide with the new moon when most of the coral reef finfish gather and congregate to spawn. Anglers are not allowed to take or possess coral reef finfish during a closure period. The closures don’t affect top water pelagic fish and only apply to persons who are fishing for coral reef finfish. The following fish are listed on the DPI website as coral reef fin fish and include cods and gropers, coral trout, emperors, fusiliers, parrotfish, surgeonfishes, sweetlips, wrasses, tropical snappers and sea perches. There are more details on the DPI website.

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