The Aftermath: Open for Business
  |  First Published: April 2011

Cyclone Yasi had the whole of Far North ducking for cover and fortunately for those north of the cyclone eye we escaped relatively unscathed. For our counterparts that felt the full brunt of the cyclone face our thoughts are still very much with you.

One subject I will touch on though is the poor perception the media portrayed overall, particularly from down south. They gave the impression that the whole of the Far North had been wiped out which couldn’t be further from the truth. Consequently tourism suffered greatly in many of our parts and only compounded the situation. I can tell you all, that certain pockets of coastline were devastated but for the most we are firing on all cylinders and well and truly open for business.

The flow on effects on our fishing scene from such a major event have been just as dramatic. Once the massive system left our part of the world it was like someone had turned a light switch on. Prior to the cyclone the fishing, particularly offshore, was extremely slow and disappointing. However for whatever reason, and I highly suspect it being something to do with when the currents started running from the south and the water temperature dropped a couple of degrees, the fish went on a feeding frenzy.

It was more noticeable offshore where our reef species went into overdrive, feeding profusely for most of the day and not in patches as is often the trend in the hottest and wettest months. A lot of the fish had moved to the deeper water to be protected from the big storm. If you found yourself fishing structures and rubble patches in the 35-50m mark you were right on the money.

The baitfish would start the proceedings stirring up the scene before the bigger fish would come in and take over. Red emperor to 8kg, largemouth nannygai by the dozen around the 6kg mark, trevally species, sweetlip, big gold spot cod and bar cheek and coral trout to 5kg were all over your baits. It is very rare you hear of recreational anglers reaching bag limits at the best of times but in the slowest known month of the year it was quite common fare following the cyclone.

The large mouth nannygai and trout species were the most aggressive during this period and made for a quick culling; turning what would normally be a long day on the water into a short one. This hot bite lasted for nearly two weeks before coming back to some normality but the fishing has remained above par. The southerly current kicks in early during the La Nina weather cycle and has turned the fishing on its head to some degree. I believe April could see us having a cracking month offshore on our reef species and we’ll see some very impressive catches occur.

Our rivers and creeks have also been sharing some of this new found joy with the barra turning up in solid numbers at times. The bigger models have been snared at night closer to the entrances using live mullet, however there’s been plenty of action for the lure fisher during daylight hours. There have been good numbers of barra schooling up in the upper reaches in a lot of our systems and even though they are mostly bordering on just-legal size, they are aggressive and provide a lot of fun. The better action has been occurring when the water levels drops on the outgoing tide and the bait is being forced back into the gutter edges where the barra are waiting.

There’s been some good mangrove jack action mixed in as well and April is traditionally a great month to be targeting both these species, employing the same tactics. Other species to put a bend in the rod have been some nice golden trevally entering the bigger river systems feeding along the sand bars and some cracking grunter to 55cm taken on a rising tide along the shallow flats.

One species which has taken a low profile in the last month or so is the Spanish mackerel. This coming month should see a shift in momentum and they should start turning up in better numbers on the outer reef. Also our surrounding islands which always hold a good bait supply at this time of year is where you’ll see the mackerel start to turn up.

The Snapper Island area in particular could see some extra action in the name of big trevally species and those superb big 1m+ ocean queenfish. Drifting live baits, such as sardines, trolling lures or casting poppers around the pressure points to the land is generally where you’ll see some serious action.

Keep an eye on the beaches as we tend to see a lot of jelly prawn hatches, and there has already been some good reports of bigger prawns being caught. Where the prawns are you can bet your house that there will be bigger fish around.

April is definitely one of the best months to fish in the tropics as all species inshore and offshore show some flare and your catches can be big and varied. Hope to see some of you soon enjoying the splendours of our tropical paradise.

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