Barra bounty hold through winter
  |  First Published: August 2012

Despite some inclement and chilly weather around the tropics in recent months, good reports of barramundi are still coming in throughout the grips of winter. And even though the barra can become a little finicky this time of year, they will still find it hard resisting a lure jinked past their favoured lair.

Anglers in the know around August will still target large barramundi but some different techniques will usually be needed. The first is to find what depth the fish are holding. This may be a little deeper over rock bars and in holes this time of year due to cool water-surface temperatures.

Trolling deeper diving lures and the presentation of live baits will come into their own when good-sized fish are holding deep. And once you find fish willing to bite, even August can be a cracker month up in Cape York.

Queenfish and trevally schools will find it easier to chase baitfish inside the estuaries and champagne fishing on poppers can be found adjacent to sandbars where baitfish are huddling in a bit of current. Some of the rivers on the West Coast of the Cape will have surprisingly good fishing for these fish well inside the river mouth and in some cases up to 20km upstream!

On the East Coast, it is more likely to be the first few hours of the incoming tide that turns the trigger for ravenous fish to feed their way into the estuaries. Flicking lures and live baits around the deep holes and gutters close to the mouth of smaller creeks and rivers is your best chance of getting a feed together. Even fish such as mangrove jack and fingermark will feed out over the sand at the beginning of the tide run.

Blue salmon can be another veracious feeder this time of year and, during neap tides, may be spotted in schools on the shallow sand bars just outside the mouth. Anything from fresh cut baits to metal slices, soft plastics and flies are great ways to get a school of bluies interested. It is important to keep retrieve speeds quick enough to create competition between the school.

We are now well and truly into the blue water fishing season of the Cape and Torres Strait. Be it the commercial line fishery, live trout, mackerel or crayfish, August will be a tough month to pick the weather and pros will have a hard time even getting out if there is 30 knots of South East wind up their clacker.

However for the multitude of trailer boat fishers reaching those harder to access spots, there will often be a window of decent weather somewhere in any one day. The secret will be to capitalise on dawn and dusk and generally before an afternoon incoming tide, which will often bring gusty winds with it.

Braving the relatively cool weather this time of year, trailer boat fishers can have some brilliant fishing for Spanish mackerel early in the mornings. Using wogheads rigged with garfish or slow trolling a rigged wolf herring around shoals and reef patches is the best way to target larger Spaniards. It is not a hard and fast rule, but trolling closer behind the boat (10-15m) on the West Coast of the Cape and further back (20-35m) on the East Coast are rules of thumb used by many old sea dogs.

Make the most of any break in the weather during August. Find areas of warmer and deeper water to target barramundi, baitfish schools for your tuna, trevally and queenfish and birds working a little wider for mackerel and cobia.

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