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Plenty on Offer in Clear Warm Water
  |  First Published: December 2011



Although the rains are still present, the visibility on the wider grounds is still clean enough to keep the blue water brigade and spearfishers happy.

There has been a good run of pelagics out around the Ribbon Reefs with some great mahi mahi and wahoo falling to trolled skirts and Bluewater Classics. There have also been some pretty serious Spanish mackerel on the chew out there with fish over 20kg not uncommon. Slow trolled wolf herring and garfish have been the pick of the baits and have been producing better sized fish compared to anglers trolling hard bodies like 190 Laser Pros and F18 Classics.

There has also been some nice school sized yellowfin tuna up to the 20kg mark for anglers fishing the wider grounds so be prepared for some powerful deep water runs and line burning action.

As usual the big GT have been making their presence felt by the commercial trout anglers on the wider grounds and they really give these guys a hard time on 55lb Schneider on a handline! These big fish have been spawning over the last few months so for any die hard popper fishos, it isn’t too late to get amongst some of the biggest GT available within 45 minutes of the boat ramp.

I have said it before in previous articles but I can’t believe that there isn’t a full time guided charter that chases these freight trains in the nutrient rich tropical waters off Cooktown. People pay thousands of dollars to do extended sea plane charters targeting GT in remote destinations in the Coral Sea yet there is one of the richest populations of 40kg GT sitting only an hour off the coast.

As usual for this time of year the coral trout have slowed up a bit due to the 30ºC plus water temperatures. Another downside to chasing trout and reds at this time of year is the increased number of sharks that you have to contend with due the influx of warm, bait filled water flowing down from the Torres Straits. You can manage a feed without too much hassle however be prepared to loose a few fish.

I like the warmer months for chasing reds and saddle-tail sea perch; they seem to gorge themselves on food over the next few months preparing for the cooler waters. Once again sharks are a problem when fishing the inshore wrecks and rubble grounds however they seem to be a lot smaller size and I found that they bite off your baits more often than the sharks taking your fish. One of the easiest methods to help prevent catch catching sharks is by switching to soft plastics. You will still get the odd shark however the 7” Gulp Jerk Shads will catch more table fish. Be prepared for some thumping meter plus chinaman fish as a nasty by-catch.

The river has been fishing well around the mouths for grunter, fingermark and jack. Whilst no records have been broken in the size department, a feed of legal sized fish is easy enough to manage.

Big queenfish and Spanish mackerel have also been hunting in the dirty water line around river mouths so be prepared for a few bite offs when fishing with big live mullet for your jacks. A single 5/0 Gamakatsu hook on a 200mm long piece of 49lb Mason single strand will ensure that you stay connected to the numerous Spaniards that are hunting lines.

Further up the river has been a bit slow due to the dirty water however fly anglers up the North Arm of the Endeavour have been kept busy with large tarpon to 60cm and even the odd jack thrown in. Remember that it’s still the closed season so if you catch a barra, let it go as soon as possible.

Before planning a trip to Cooktown, give Russell at The Lure Shop a call on (07) 4069 5396 for all the information and gear needed for the local area. The Lure Shop is Cape York’s largest range of fishing, hunting and boating equipment.

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