Large swell opens river opportunities
  |  First Published: August 2012

August already? What has happened to the first half of 2012? This year has been a cracker of a year fishing wise on Cape York, and it’s a great time of year to start writing for QFM.

The only real downer so far this winter has been the persistent swell in the gulf. Strong southerly winds in the bottom of the gulf are the culprit and while we don’t necessarily experience the wind here, the swell they push up is a real pain for those wishing to head along the coast or offshore. The seas aren’t always huge, but any form of swell stirs up the shallow waters of the gulf making the beaches, headlands and fish rich inshore waters mostly unfishable until this swell drops and the water clears.

Those days when the weather has been favourable have seen some top sportfishing for all the usual culprits including longtail tuna, Spaniards, multiple trevally types and queenfish, which seem to be back in good size and numbers off most of the headlands to the south of Weipa. A quick drop on a bommie or patch of rubble with a plastic or squid bait at some time through the day has resulted in some quality reef fish for the evening meal.

The River fishing so far this year has been outstanding with many anglers spending plenty of days inside due to the swell. Whether on lure or the ever reliable live bait, not many days have gone past without some form of hot action in one of Weipa’s many estuaries.

So far we haven’t seen as many cold mornings as most years, so we haven’t seen the water temps drop as low as normal. This in turn has seen the barra and most of the other river fish continue to feed quite well, particularly on the spring tides. The small creek mouths and junctions have been the go once the tide starts to run out and the smaller gutters and drains the place to cast a lure or live bait during the last of the run out and for the start of the run in.

As with every other year, August fishing will really depend on the weather. If we get a cold snap, the river might just be due to shut down for a couple of weeks. If this happens I would be concentrating my efforts on the days with the most run, as this nearly always gets a few fish moving.

Offshore should start to pick up with Spanish mackerel the species to target in the coming months. Any of the deeper shoals will start to hold good numbers of these speedsters with flocks of birds a dead giveaway of surface action.

Sharks on some of the better known marks could be a problem, so you may have to do some miles out wider to find a patch of fish the sharks haven’t.

Out and around the 20m contour line to both the north and south of Weipa will hold plenty of Spanish in the coming months. If there is no notable surface action watch for birds high in the sky as they can be watching a school of macks not far below the surface just hanging out or cruising. I have stumbled upon huge schools of macks in the past out wide in the middle of nowhere and have had some of the most insane sessions I have ever seen.

Sailfish and black marlin will start to frequent these wider areas through August and the coming months so it does pay to have an outfit with a skipping gar or livie ready to go if one should show.

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