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Finals fever in the tropics
  |  First Published: September 2012



The days are getting longer, the temperature is slowly rising and the weather pattern is stabilising. This means the tropics are coming up to a crossover period where winter and summer species are both active and the fishing is dynamic on all fronts. Spring is in the air and it’s a wonderful time to be wetting a line in the far north.

The rivers and creeks have probably been through their slowest periods of the year. With a spike in water temperature we are now seeing more varied results with a few of our prized species well and truly on the move.

Barra, mangrove jack and fingermark are now quite active having just made cameo appearances during the cooler months. The likes of trevally and queenfish are still flourishing and the bread and butter species like bream, grunter, flathead and cod are just as active as ever.

It’s a great time to flick lures covering as much ground as possible, working your way upstream with the run-in tide. There is every chance you’ll come across half a dozen species or more on any given session. Obvious places to target include pressure points on bends and islands, any fallen tree on the water’s edge and the deep holes at the junctions where creeks meet. If you have the patience and time, giving each of these likely locations a presentation of live baits will definitely go rewarded.

With more settled weather opportunities it’s a fantastic time to be on the blue water. Local inshore reefs, headlands and islands are seeing some great pelagic activity on all mackerel species, such as Spanish, grey school and spotted.

Mack and longtail tuna and also several other trevally species such as GT, cale cale and tea leaf have been found in similar circles. The word on the beat from the small tinny brigade is that the old fashioned silver spoon is outgunning all other lure models by 5:1.

For the more serious fisho, the small black marlin grounds between Port Douglas and Cairns have produced nicely this season having gone missing for a year or two. The good news is that they are back and medium 6-8” skirted lures and smaller rigged garfish rigs trolled behind the vessel at around 6 knots is working a treat. Finding the bait on the sounder is important and then you work the area over.

Pixie Reef and associated grounds nearby is the hotspot for a bit of small black marlin action at the moment. Don’t be surprised if the bigger models start turning up on the shelf edge. This will be worth investigating as the month goes on. Last year the bigger marlin came on the bite early and the same might just happen again this year.

Trolling bigger lures at a slightly faster speed is generally the trend to entice a bigger marlin, in excess of 200lb, in the coming month.

Other action to be had on the stand up light tackle gear has been the solid numbers of Spanish mackerel in the area this year. Working over a variety of deep pinnacles holding bait life has been the key to unleashing these species that have been patrolling in thick schools. A variety of deep and shallow lures along with rigged garfish put out in the spread covers all bases. The red hot action on the outer reefs for these fish will continue during September.

Not to be forgotten, the good old bottom bouncing trips have been sensational value with a plethora of reef species on offer. Big large-mouth nannygai, plump-sized coral trout, horse cobia, bustling trevally species and monster cod have been common fare. The reef fishing action doesn’t drop off at all in September, it keeps pumping, so a day fishing off the anchor is of great value.

On the neapish tides, fish the really deep rubble patches for your big red species and when there is some current target the reef bommies for your coral trout and other reef species. It definitely is the most popular form of fishing with visiting tourists and it doesn’t matter if you’re experienced or not. Everyone can catch a feed of reef fish with a bit of simple guidance!

In finishing I’d like to say a big thanks for all the positive support for our new Fishing TV series the Line Burner and it is still featuring Monday nights at 8.30pm on Foxtel/Austar Channel 183. In the last few shows of the series we score a few home runs with some exciting blue water fishing action. If you can’t get to see it, you can purchase the series on DVD via www.lineburner.com.au

Dragon Lady Charters have had a great run on the Spanish mackerel.

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