Barra the focus of efforts
  |  First Published: September 2012

As predicted the early parts of August have seen the river fishing slow. Two weeks of consistently cool mornings has inevitably dropped water temperatures and results for the more desirable species has shown.

Absolutely beautiful days have followed these mornings, with a few hours over the hottest part of the day nudging 30ºC. This coupled with a lot less wind than other years has made for quite a pleasant and fishable start to Cape York’s dry season.

Reports of good crabs continue to surprise and Weipa is no doubt having its best season in years. Fingers crossed the muddie population is on the comeback. Fish frames been a top crab bait. A strong zip tie through the eyes and secured to the bottom and middle of the pot will see you get the most value from your bait.

Plenty of run in the tide is desirable if you’re going to the effort of running pots. I’ve really enjoyed getting back into crabbing over the last few years and it’s a great feeling heading off for a fish with a few pots on the soak.

The shell grit bars and deeper holes in both the Mission and Embley rivers have been giving up some nice catches of grunter over the past week. Fingermark have still been present but not in the numbers they were a month or two ago. Early mornings coinciding with the start of the run out tide are a top time to find a feed, while an arvo trip on a run in tide after work should also trouble the scorers.


Offshore has seen some cracking catches of tuskfish for those in the know. Rubble patches and drop offs with depths between 20-50ft early in the morning are places to look. Prawn and crab baits are preferred for tuskers with the bait fished hard on the bottom.

The take from these fish can be quite subtle and sometimes a few feet of line needs to be fed out before striking. Once hooked you really have to hang on hard for that first run as that stonking tusker heads for cover. There really is nothing like the power these fish possess and I rate them at the top of the tree of challenging fish to find, hook and then land in shallow water.

Tuskers are a very territorial fish and if you find a spot with them going off chances are it hasn’t been fished much. Taking any more than a few fish from a hang will result in an area being fished out quite quickly as they aren’t a big schooling fish. After a few fish I generally move on and look for a new area as this will always leave some to help the fishery for the future.

Like fingermark, tuskies definitely lose their eating qualities at a larger size and are no doubt worth a lot more to the fishery alive and breeding into the future than in an esky. I release all fingermark over 65cm and tuskfish at 55cm, and urge others to do the same.

Warmer weather will be enjoyed as we move into September, and as water temps increase so will the catches. I have found early September to be hit and miss both offshore and in the rivers and it will be later in the month that the fishing will really start to fire.

With the barra season set to close at the end of the month, plenty of time and effort will be spent on these silver beauties. They will definitely come on sometime during the month so be ready to go for that final hit out in the Gulf for the year.

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