Spring in Full Swing
  |  First Published: October 2011

All fishing appetites are catered for in October, which can be one of the most exciting months to visit Cape York.

Although the weather will be warming up, access to some of the more restrictive post-wet season spots is now possible.

Cars and boats accessing the remote northern regions of the Cape might be greeted with corrugated roads and maybe a little smoke in the air from ever-present bushfires this time of year. But trek to the water’s edge and the warm weather and clear water are sure to make up for it.

It will not be unusual on both the east and west coasts for the breeze to completely drop out during the morning. For the many of us who love to use these periods to chase pelagics and reefies around the Cape’s many inshore reefs, between sunrise and lunchtime will offer best results.

Buying or even netting bait is usually not required up in the cape if you are willing to catch it on the run. A bait jig, little slug or trolled lure will quickly produce something that can be cut up and used for bait or trolled whole for something bigger.

Smaller sized queenfish and mackerel provide great skipping baits for your larger predators and wolf herring caught on small metal slices can be used the same way for mackerel. Those targeting big Spaniards will often use these toothy critters slow trolled around shoals and bait schools.

Wogheads and other variations used to jazz-up a rigged garfish are equally deadly on mackerel. Although wonderful eating, smaller Spanish mackerel can be used to great effect as strip baits if needed. Plenty of times I have seen a sweet fillet of mackerel turned into an even sweeter prize of coral trout and mixed reef fish.

October can be a great time to chase many rock and reef dwellers, which move into shallow waters to feed and spawn this time of year. On the east coast, perhaps the greatest prize for those soaking bait will be coral trout and on the west coast the humble fingermark. Both fight well, can be caught in good numbers and offer absolutely first rate table-fare.

Flyfishers should be getting exciting with their main targets also moving into shallow areas to feed. Blue salmon, giant herring, tarpon, queenfish, various trevally and permit will all be making shallow sand gutters and bays their home during October.

Permit are one of the holy grails of fly fishing and this is one of the best times of year to target these golden-flanked speedsters. Spending much of their year out of sight and out of mind, permit will begin roaming in packs around the sandy gutters and channels just outside many far-northern creek systems.

Crabs, shells, prawns, worms and tiny baitfish will make up the permit’s diet and although extremely tricky to tempt, a well placed fly in front of the pack will bring about competition and hopefully a take.

There are all sorts of opportunities on the cards up the Cape in October. Don’t forget the sunnscreen and plenty of water. A good camp shower will help wash away the dust from your travels and the calm conditions should make all the effort worthwhile.

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