Blue water and baitfish
  |  First Published: July 2012

July will be a month with quite variable conditions throughout Cape York. A few places will get rain showers especially on the east coast, but much of the countryside will be drying out and rivers will begin to show signs of slowing down.

Estuaries may still be holding good populations of fish, but quite often a cold snap can readily turn the bite off completely. Sometimes a few queenies or little trevally are all you have to show for a morning of persistant luring. So a cold snap in July can offer some fantastic opportunities to get out into the multitude of reefs, bays, cays and islands littered around Cape York and the Torres Strait.

Likely haunts include isolated patches of reef, pinnacles of rock and small islands scattered right up the east coast and into the Torres Strait. With a bit of current running past these places, Spanish mackerel and giant trevally will never be too far away.

These speedy creatures will be hold in these locations throughout the year but will vary in density depending on spawning and feeding habits. Early mornings in Cape York can be the prime time as large Spanish mackerel come spearing out of the water, with jaws flailing at a hapless garfish.

When current is running in a particular direction, it will be noticeable on the either point of certain structure. Reefs and rocky outcrops will usually be shaped by the prevailing monsoon and dry season winds. Take into account thousands of years of weather patterns and you start to see similar trends emerging. Bait will congregate in the pressure point of these reef and islands, which can be found by finding the point the current pushes up against the structure.

It is the same basic principles used by anglers chasing everything from black marlin to Murray cod. Fish will sit in the point of least resistance and look at ambushing bait while it pushes past these points. On the reefs and rocky outcrops, this will include schools of fusiliers, gar and damselfish huddling close together in the current. Predators will zone in on the concentrated bait and the action begins.

Before you leave these isolated pieces of structure, it’s worth dropping a few baits or soft plastics down amongst the rock and reef. Coral trout, golden snapper and spangled emperor can be found around shallow reef country and very quickly give you esky a bit of colour!

When drifting into water adjacent to these outcrops in areas deeper than 20m, anglers may be lucky enough to run into red emperor, and large and small mouth nannygai. Reds can be caught on an array of baits and can show up in surprising numbers if the right rubble ground and gravelly structure are found.

With more settled conditions and smaller neap tides in July, it might be time to get some of those special marks off those in the know of isolated bommies and wrecks strewn around the coral coast. As well as trevally, mackerel and cobia, these places will hold reds, fingermark, trout, mangrove jack and black jew.

Keep your eyes glued on the weather chart in July and make the most of those short pockets of calm. On those slick mornings before the breeze picks up, keep your eyes peeled for bait schools and tuna busting up under hovering gulls and get a metal slice in there amongst them. Mac tuna will make great oily bait while northern blues or longtails will make great sashimi if kept and prepared well.

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