Crossroads in the tropics
  |  First Published: September 2011

You can feel it in the air. September has that aurora where you know it is going to be an exciting month on the water as a lot of fish begin to congregate.

A lot of our targeted species are in preparation for spawning including marlin, Spanish mackerel and various reef species. Once the spawning has been completed they will be ravenous. Hopefully by now we have seen the tail end of those pesky cooler southeast trade winds, which have put a dent in many a fishing trip, and can now look forward to nice blue waters with the sun shining down.

September traditionally brings on improvement both inshore and offshore. In the rivers and creeks the barramundi wake up from their winter slumber, the mangrove jack are agitated and aggressive, the fingermark are on the improve and all the others are running full steam ahead including javelin fish, golden trevally, queenfish, school mackerel and the odd medium sized GT.

Dead baits need to be put in the freezer with lures and live baiting the best way to go. The waters will have plenty of visibility and the act of seeing an object flirting in front of their eyes will be too hard to resist. Concentrate efforts at the rivers mouths on the run in tides, the deep holes further upstream and flats on top of the tide and then switch to the bank corners with a pressure point on the run out tide. You can vary this up but it is a good template to follow.

As you travel offshore the headlands and inshore reefs will be worth a look for pelagic species. They will be visible by the surface action they create in pursuit of bait. Soft plastics, hard body lures and metal slices can be cast or trolled in amongst the action. Try to identify the bait schools and then match your lure the best you can and you could find yourself with school mackerel, queenfish, tuna or trevally putting a bend in your rod.

Some days you don’t need to travel far at all to experience red hot light tackle sport fishing at this time of year. If you see a string of picture post card days coming up, this inshore action will easily please both big and small boat brigades.

On the outer reef there is so much on offer; try bottom bouncing for all your favourite reef species such as coral trout, red emperor, nannygai and host of others. Calmer conditions allows for easier anchoring which should see vessels returning to the deeper waters in pursuit of the bigger models. During the windy months prior to this they have had a good rest and should not be easily spooked, which give the angler a greater chance of catching a feed. Anything could hook up on the end of your line including the above mentioned but also cobia, golden trevally, spangled emperor, sweetlip, and several trevally species. It’s a good time of year to see what you can muster up from the depths of the outer reef.

It always pays to mix up your day and troll around for a feed of Spanish mackerel as well. They have congregated in good numbers over recent times and they should a common catch for the entirety of the month. There’s no real tricks to trolling for mackerel; often your deeper haunts for reds which hold good bait will also have mackerel lurking nearby. Pressure points of major reefs where the current is pushing into the face is also likely to have mackerel patrolling the area. Once they decide to eat, they’ll devour anything dabbled in front of their nose. Trolling rigged garfish and hard body lures are the most common methods of getting stuck into the razor gang ocean mafia.

Game fishers are now licking their lips as conditions improve for them to start really exploring the expanses of the Great Barrier Reef. Small black marlin have been targeted at various locations on the inside of the reef already and at some point soon the bigger models will start turning up on the edge of the outer reef.

Fishing for marlin means an upgrade of reels to 30-50lb capacity with bigger lures and skirts definitely worth having out there. 300-500lb marlin are a reality on the continental shelf and in between the big bite there should be good numbers of yellowfin tuna and Spanish mackerel turning the reels. This scene will gain serious momentum as the month goes by and soon the heavy tackle gear will be employed for the monster big black marlin as they arrive to breed on the edges of the shelf.

We should see a plethora of reports filing through this month and if you are travelling this way you should be in for a super time. The time of transition between winter and summer species will provide fun for all anglers.

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