River Runs Right
  |  First Published: May 2011

It is now coming into April and the rain is still here. All of the local rivers have been up and down like yo-yos and still running a rich shade of brown.

The good news is that the mud crabs have been on the move as they have been flushed out of their hidey holes and into the many bays and headlands that surround Cooktown. One prime place for locals and tourists to chase these tasty critters for a feed is at the mouth of the Annan River and around Walker Bay. You should not have too much difficulty scraping up a feed if you stick to the legal requirements of four pots per person.

The mouth of the Annan River is a great camping spot. There are a few camp sites where you can set up and be out of the wind, however keep in mind that this area can be extremely busy over the Easter holiday break, so get in early to secure a spot and please be tolerant of other campers.

The access to the mouth of the Annan River is actually on private property owned by the Cooktown Gold Club. It is not a right to use their property to access the river mouth so please do your bit and clean up after yourself (and often others) and do not wreck it for the rest of us.

Directions to the mouth of the Annan River are simple. Heading into Cooktown from Bloomfield or Lakeland, cross the Annan River Bridge and continue for a few kilometres. Then turn right on to the signposted Quarantine Bay Road and head down this road for approximately 3km. You will then see a fork in the road with a sign for the Cooktown Golf Club. Turn right into this road and follow it down until you see the first set of wheel tracks on the right-hand side. This is the private track that will lead you to the beach. Once you are on the beach road, turn right and follow it down to the river mouth and select your camp site. This track is usually an all weather track regardless of tidal movement so it is very safe. A 4WD is needed but only for clearance reasons. In late 2009, The Cooktown Gold Club closed access to commercial netters and crabbers to use this track.

The reef has been fishing rather well for those who have been getting out. The start of 2011 has blessed Cooktown with good weather for offshore fishing and plenty of local anglers have been making hay while the sun shines, so to speak, after the excessively windy last few years.

Reports of quality red emperor and saddle-tailed sea perch have been making up most of the captures with plenty of mixed reef species, such as green jobfish, spangled emperor, and long-nosed emperor keeping eskies full and anglers happy.

The local spearfishers have been having good trips. Some cracker tuskfish approaching the 8kg mark have been speared on the shallow edges of Egret, Bolder and Forrester reefs. The flat calm seas courtesy of the doldrums have enabled spearos to explore the wider, less frequently hit reefs in search of crayfish. On these days, snorkeler’s have had no problem getting their bag limits within a few hours.

The river scene is slowly starting to fire up again with the waters clearing on each tide. If we do not get much more rain, the 2011 season is going to be a corker for barra and jacks. Shane Miller from Cooktown Barra Charters has been reporting some cracker fingermark, jacks and even the occasional threadfin salmon from the Endeavour River. The best baits have been large live prawns fished barely weighted back into the snag on the bottom of the tide.

Reports of millions of jelly prawns filling the Endeavour and Annan rivers is a sure sign of a fantastic later half in the year for the many headlands and bays once these Endeavour prawns move back out into the coastal regions.

If the water cleans up before the winter months (it might not this year), the headlands around Indian Head, Knob Point, South Bedford and Cape Bedford will hold hordes of schooling queenfish, Spanish mackerel and northern bluefin tuna as they gorge themselves on the massive balls of herring, yellowfin pike and hardiheads that begin to move back into the Endeavour and Annan rivers once the coffee coloured water dissipates.

This is a great time to arm yourself with a 6kg spin outfit and start firing small slugs and poppers into the foaming waters. A word of warning – be prepared to get your arms stretched by some marauding GT as 20kg+ fish are usually not too far away from the action!

Before planning a trip to Cooktown and its surrounding areas why not give us a call at The Lure Shop and let us fill you in on what is biting and where the action is. The Lure Shop is located at 142 Charlotte Street, Cooktown and we can be contacted on (07) 4069 5396 or via email on --e-mail address hidden-- or --e-mail address hidden--

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