Hot Summer Action in the Far North
  |  First Published: December 2011

With a new year ticking over we enter a month that can potentially fish very well in the tropics or it can be challenging, depending when the wet season begins.

If the conditions are moderate, my advice is to make hay while the sun is shining and enjoy what pleasant days we have left before the serious rain arrives.

The heavy tackle season has now wound up, however, those who have headed offshore over the recent months have experienced some exceptional action on the game fishing scene. Overall it has been a great marlin season this year coupled, with some amazing weather. The marlin catches were very consistent, from get go in early September right up until the early periods of December.

It was also quite interesting to witness breeding fish late into November with smaller male marlin eagerly hovering around the larger females while they were actually hooked up at the time. Linden Banks proved to be yet again the hot patch at the tail end of the season, with plenty of monster specimens in excess of 1000lb being caught and released.

Some boats even reported 8 hook ups in a day, which makes for really exciting fishing. Once again our local waters have proven beyond doubt that it produces the largest population of marlin over 1000lb in the world. One can only hope that next year will provide some equally outstanding marlin fishing.

To add to the excitement of the big game fishing, the light tackle scene on the same grounds has been equally as impressive and this is expected to continue in the upcoming months. Yellowfin tuna, northern bluefin tuna, mahi mahi, Spanish mackerel and wahoo to 40kg have all been firing and have added to the tally.

In January these species should continue to be prevalent along the traditional marlin grounds, with sailfish making a presence in the shallower water, the edges of drop-offs and the entrances between the outer reefs.

While the marlin season may have concluded, there is still some exceptional fishing on offer in the offshore waters of the Far North. The weather conditions will unquestionably play a big part as to whether these grounds can be explored but generally speaking there will be plenty of opportunity until mid-January.

In regards to reef fishing, reports have indicated that fish are not being caught in large numbers but those that are on the chew have been of high quality. Some good coral trout were caught immediately after the conclusion of the reef closure in late November.

Spangled emperor, trevally and large-mouth nannygai have also been biting well at times on the bottom. All decent fish including coral trout have been caught in 30m or more of water; target this depth and deeper.

Fresh hard bait from smaller reef fish such as hussar coupled with pilchard or squid provides an irresistible cocktail for these species. Spanish mackerel have also been taken on the reliable floated fusilier or even a garfish or pilchard worked through the water column.

Leading into the slowest time of the year for reef fin species, the fishing is expected to be difficult at times, however, there will be periods where the fish are biting. The turn of the tide and low light periods are usually ideal times to position the boat on one of your favourite marks.

Just remember the window for bite times may only occur for an hour, so make the most of it. Overnight trips can also be productive, providing the conditions are clear of any untoward stormy weather. The rewards will be there for those who are persistent and put in the extra effort.

Recently the rivers, headlands and beaches have been providing some great fishing action in the region. In the rivers, mullet have been the main source of bait and prawns have been difficult to catch, due to a lack of rain but a decent deluge will see their numbers increase.

Some very impressive jacks have been landed in the river systems mainly around the 50cm plus range. These powerful fish put up a dogged fight and taste brilliant on the plate. Fingermark have also been on the chew in the rivers, however it is expected that more numbers will be found around the inshore patches and headlands at this time of year.

Big queenies have also been providing some brilliant action in the rivers, gathering in the deeper holes on high tide. Queenies over 1m have also been present at the river mouths and headlands providing some great fun on poppers or stick baits.

The river mouths and headlands have also proven to be very productive on dark, during the incoming tide for a variety of other species including trevally and incidental barra. Just to highlight this fact, on a recent trip with mates at the mouth of a local creek on dusk, a massive barra that measured 124cm was caught on a strip of sardine. After a few quick photos the big girl was released in good health due both to the barra closure and also because it exceeded the maximum legal length of 120cm. Besides this it is expected that the numbers of blue salmon will increase in the coming month, providing there are moderate rainfalls in the region.

January is a month where the fishing can be quite exceptional inshore due to a large amount of bait gathering around the rivers, headlands and beaches, but it is also a month susceptible to shut down if the wet season kicks in. Hopefully we can get in another month of superb fishing action in the Far North. – This month’s article was written by work experience student Sam Weimar of Whyanbeel.

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