Hot fishing in the cold
  |  First Published: July 2012

A fishing holiday to Cooktown has never been a better option, as the blue water and reef action has been red hot. However for travelling anglers, unless you are towing a 20ft+ boat, it will be very hard to get out amongst the action without causing sever discomfort to your lower back.

To put it simply, Cooktown is one of Queensland’s windiest fishing destinations. The trade winds blow 25 knot southeast for 8-9 months at a time. When the winds abate during winter the main street is a ghost town with nearly every local out on the reef getting stuck into trout, reds and pelagics.

I will try and give a few basic and, some would say obvious, pointers to further your hope of getting into some decent fish when the reefs and headlands are out of action.

A lot of people think that the Lakefield National Park is out of action for any decent barra fishing over the cooler winter month. Although the July to August months can slow things up a bit, the chance of tangling with some 70-80cm fish is a very real option.

Even though the hordes of grey nomads that visit Lakefield over the winter months put real fishing pressure on some of the more popular waterholes and the increased boat traffic can cause fish to sulk, don’t be fooled into thinking that they will be off the bite. I believe that about 90% of visiting anglers fish the park in the wrong way. Most tourists think that they are fishing a large territory river system, like the Daly or Mary, and proceed to troll hours on end up the centre of the river or waterhole. While you will still manage the odd fish here and there, you are basically trying to pin the tail on the donkey blindfolded. There is just too much water to fish blindfolded.

A good mate and 25+ year local Cooktown resident, Robbie Giblin has had countless sessions of three digit barra scores on individual days in the park. Without giving too many secrets of his away, if you want to catch big numbers of better-sized barra in the park, give the trolling a miss and start looking at casting lures at structure.

It doesn’t matter what area in the park you are fishing, there are always plenty of snags, rock bars, overhanging foliage or washed out banks that will hold barra in good numbers.

Lures to take are a no brainer (I may be biased) and have caught me fish everywhere from the Kimberley to Noosa. A must-have selection for Northern species include Richo Sardine and Richo Extractor, Leads Shad (if you can ever get hold of them), half a dozen of the smallest Halco Rooster poppers, a heap of 75/80mm Squidgy Fish in evil minnow colour and, the northern cliché, the humble Gold Bomber. There is not a fish that you can’t catch in Northern waters with these lures in your box.

Call into The Lure Shop and have a yarn about what is biting and with a bit of luck you may run into a few top barra anglers that regularly frequent the shop chatting to Russell. Do yourself a favour and listen to what they have to say as you can learn more about a remote destination in a 30 minute conversation with someone like Robbie than you will over a lifetime of trial and error.

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

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