The eyes of all those who chase barramundi in Cape York should be well and truly open come May. Many of the rivers on the west coast will be flowing a brilliant rich green colour as the wet season has subsided.
Water temperatures usually start to drop in May and quite often a strong southerly will mark the beginning of this drop. However, as you head further north into Cape York, slightly higher average temperatures will ensure good fishing for barramundi throughout May.
Fishing snags and rock bars should be particularly productive given that creeks and rivers will be a little more settled and baitfish will be more widespread. In particular some of the neap (smaller) tides in May should provide champagne fishing.
Since the first time I envisioned a barramundi running from a snag to snavel a lure and come rampaging out of the water to an expectant angler, the scene was set. There is something about a fish that attacks a lure, throws itself in the air and tastes absolutely brilliant with a good set of chips. I remain hooked.
The thing about May is that somewhere in this month if you keep at it, there will be one of those ‘bites of a lifetime.’ Half way through a run-out tide on that special piece of snaggy bank studded with large fallen trees from the previous years wet season is a place to start.
It is not a hard and fast rule, but generally I look for water between 6-10ft deep when lure casting for barra. Sure fish will live a lot deeper in holes and snags throughout the year but May is one of those months when it is best to start shallower. If you get a knock or that distinct tap of a barramundi, don’t simply drift on by. Look for the holding spot and depth you got the attention and keep casting lures in the area.
In many of the larger systems on the west coast of Cape York, you need to imagine barramundi roving around in loose schools. Sometimes the fish will be on snags, but more often than not, they are holding at certain depths adjacent to structure and sand. Wake one fish up and you may get the chance to start a bite. Work that bite properly and the competition created can have barra literally climbing over lures when minutes before the patch seemed empty. They just show up!
Further north around the tip of Cape York and the Torres Strait, blue water will now be closer around islands and coastline. Baitfish such as herring, sardines and hardiheads will be stacked around wharves, jetties and rock groins. Tropical speedsters such as queenfish, mackerel and trevally will be close behind, as will the many Islander and Aboriginal people who catch some many great fish from these spots.
A little bait jig will get you some herring when they are thick and one of these cast live around the pylons can see anything from a coral trout to a barramundi trying to run you back under the wharf. All sorts can be caught from these structures including tricky snapper, black jew, fingermark, golden snapper and squid. It is a lucky dip and often quite a tasty one in the Northern Peninsula and Torres Islands.Reads: 771