The early rains have turned the Endeavour and Annan rivers into a coffee coloured torrent filled with floating debris that is just waiting to rip skegs from unsuspecting boats.
Although many fish species have been sulking a bit with the dirty water, plenty of good fishing is still to be had by changing your fishing style to suit the conditions.
By this time of year, most of the herring and sardine schools have moved out into the bays and headlands in search of cleaner water.
The headlands around Cape Bedford are a good bet at this time of year as the pelagic action can be red hot on lighter tackle. Schools of queenfish, golden trevally, Spanish mackerel, mac tuna and longtail tuna will make a great fun on 15lb spin gear.
Small slugs are often your best bet at this time of year, although trolling small hardbodies such as Reedys Little Lucifers or Koolabung Razorback Prawn will often produce fish that are holding a bit deeper and are not feeding on the surface.
Punters who are keen on getting a feed of mackerel should achieve this relatively easily. Slow trolled wolf herring rigged on TT jigheads chin guards have proved irresistible to XOS Spaniards; don’t be surprised if a 20kg+ model comes along to say hello.
This time of year will also see some great captures of trout, saddle tailed sea perch (large-mouth nannygai) and tuskfish from the headlands, so make the most of the doldrums and get fishing.
While the reds and trout have moved out to deeper water, (deeper water for Cooktown is more than 40m,) anglers fishing in 20m depths around the headlands have been landing decent bar cheeks around 60cm.
The reefs around Forrester and Swinger have been producing well with plenty of quality fish including the odd blue Maori, which is not a common capture in the waters of Cooktown and are delicious.
The Annan River has had some decent fingermark being landed around the mouth and also out the front of the old prawn farm. Live prawns and mud herring have been the standout baits and have been easy to obtain in a cast net around the flats of the Annan River mouth.
Barra are still off limits so remember to release them as soon as possible if you do manage to land one. Good grunter and queenfish have been holding on the snags up around Esk Creek on the run in tide.
The feeder creeks that run off the Annan are also worth a try at this time of year for anglers chasing jacks. These small feeder creeks are literally full of school sized jacks.
For the bait fishos, anglers who spend 20 minutes berleying up with pilchards are often rewarded with sessions of up to 20 jacks. The local rod builder in town is a fanatical jack fisherman and landed 39 jacks in a session, which I think rates as good as any other jack fishing I have heard of.
December is usually the last month that you can get up to Starkey and chase jacks and salmon before the roads get pretty chewed up with rain. These small tidal creeks can produce cricket score numbers of jacks and barra for the avid lure fisho but believe me, make sure you bring a few bottles of Bushman’s as the sandflies are unbelievable.
Mud crabs are also in great numbers at the moment with the recent rains and there are some real crackers up there. For travelling anglers who only have access to a 4m tinnie, the next few months are a great option to tow your boats to Cooktown for a few days as the doldrums open up a heap of great reef fishing to the tinnie brigade.Reads: 1201