With relatively calm conditions persisting through much of January, it is only tropical thunderstorms or cyclones which pose any threat to anglers. Mornings at this time of year can see you with not a breath of wind to dry your sweating brow. Even so, to see light blue currents converging over an oily-slick surface is always worth it.
These currents often transport baitfish around shoals and reef patches. The whole scene becomes much more easily apparent when conditions are smooth. Every tern dipping, every ripple and splash or crash can be seen out to the horizon.
It is days like these which stick in the memory of fishos getting out and about on sunrise across the Cape. Days when sunscreen needs to be smeared on under your hat and polarised sunnies are an absolute must. Days when turtles can be heard slurping air 100 yards away and the wake of a manta ray gently cruising is easily followed.
Conditions like this greeted us on a recent trip out from the tip of Cape York. We started the day just heading due east looking for activity. Sporadic flocks of birds gave chase to some equally sporadic schools of mack tuna and it was mostly by luck that a school broke the surface only 20m from the boat. We made two awkward casts with the boat still drifting forward and got nailed.
A fishy-looking point where current was pushing against a reef edge produced a few barracuda and small GTs but no mackerel. We started flicking soft plastics at the reef edges on an outgoing tide and immediately a little trout fled from its reef ledge and engulfed the 3” tail. This followed by another and another, as we refined our technique of bumping the weighted plastics off the reef edge with little upward flicks. Looking for small indentations in the reef produced the best results and the fish seemed to concentrate in small pockets.
Slack tide slowed things markedly and with the breeze still at a standstill we focused our attention on the horizon, deciding to take our chances further east. In a small boat usually more comfortable somewhere up a mangrove estuary, cruising 45km straight out is a rarity on the east coast. We reached our destination and began a long troll up the reef edge.
Two grinding strikes and two bent over rods started the bite off adjacent to a large detached coral bommie in about 8m of water. Instructions went out to just stay seated and hold on for the next pass and we weren’t disappointed as the short rod got slammed. “Car door” came the call after 10 minutes as the large GT made life difficult for all involved. You definitely have to earn the good ones!
We moved to the tip of the reef where current intersected a prominent detached piece of reef and low hovering birds gave away a rather brilliant scene. We motored closer and in only 3m of clear water, tiny baitfish were getting herded this way and that from a relentless stream of predators. Poppers and slugs rigged with wire took some heavy blows with some nice Spaniards and GTs landed amidst the fray.
Especially on the north-east coast, calm days can be a little rare. With this in mind, it pays to have your gear at the ready and look for a break in the wet-season to get out and about in January. This is a quiet time of year in remote parts and you are bound to be fishing most areas alone so enjoy while it lasts.Reads: 1972