Let the Storms Begin
  |  First Published: December 2011

December in the far north will signal the beginning of the tropical monsoon or at least the build up to what is known as the wet season.

While many boats have begun to venture south in an attempt to avoid this wet season and the associated cyclone threats, others are using the pockets of calm weather to get amongst the fish.

There is no doubting that once again, we have been hampered by persistent trade winds on the east coast in recent months. With luck, December may see a switch from the high-pressure dominated systems to low pressure systems synonymous with the monsoon trough.

I love fishing Cape York in December. The crowds have usually thinned considerably and this is compared with almost no crowds anyhow.

If you decide to stay out long past lunchtime and you will often get hammered by an afternoon squall. Lightning, thunder and grey skies may sound menacing, but often they are welcome alternatives to searing build-up heat and humid, muggy weather.

Recent years have seen some great catches of sailfish and small black marlin in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Both the east coast just south of Weipa and also the west coast, predominately just south of Groote Island have produced great light tackle gamefishing just before the Christmas period. These fish are being found in only 15-25m of water over shoals where prolific bait schools are at the mercy of the ever-hungry, super-speedy little billfish.

On the east coast of Cape York, the heavy tackle season will be winding up for those fishing wide of Cairns, Port Douglas and Lizard Island. Once again, some brilliant fish have been bought to leader this season including at least a couple around the 1100lb and 1200lb mark and a good run of fish closer to 800lb.

Even with 20knots of wind and persistent swell, these fish are still willing to smash big baits being towed in the wake of equally large game boats.

Despite reef closures preventing fishing during certain moon phases, good success can be enjoyed on all manner of reef fish outside these times in December. Coral trout will be the mainstay of anglers fishing shallow reef country between Cairns and Torres Strait. Out wider, tasty specimens such as jobfish, red emperor and your usual pelagic species such as Spanish mackerel, blue and yellowfin tuna will all make tasty contributions to a day’s catch fishing on the outer reefs.

Reports of very good fishing in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria suggest that very extensive wet seasons in recent years have compounded in very good fishing late in the year. When rivers clear and water temperatures warm at the end of the dry season, it is not just the barramundi that fire up. Threadfin salmon, mangrove jack and many others will be using the last of the settled conditions to feed before the onslaught of the wet begins.

The next four months may see very limited fishing opportunities while torrential rains and threatening skies keep most Cape York locals indoors or travelling elsewhere. It pays to make the most of December for both its calm morning conditions and warm water temperatures.

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