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The heavy artillery moves in
  |  First Published: October 2012



Spring is in the air and the big boys and their big toys are starting to roll into the area with the heavy game fishing season upon us.

Many boats make the pilgrimage from the southern parts of the country and take up residence in the far north with the sole intention of chasing big black marlin. This genuine excitement around the traps has been heightened by the fact that the local region has seen the best light tackle season, particularly for the small black marlin, since the mid 1990s.

The local waters have been teeming with small black marlin this year; 130 tags in the recent Bluewater Fitzroy Island tournament over three days is testimony to that. Will this equate to a big black marlin season? We can only be optimistic that it should have a flow on effect, if not this year definitely next.

All will soon be revealed as a couple of major tournaments in the Lizard Island and Port Douglas Marlin Challenge will tell the tale as they attract big numbers of boats and participants. We look forward to hearing the epic battles that will take place over the coming weeks.

Statistically, about 80% of the world’s 1000lb marlin tags are captured on our local grounds and therefore we get the huge influx of enthusiastic anglers from around the globe. From the Linden Bank all the way north to the top of the Ribbons and Jewell Reef there will be a significant ant trail of game boats working the cobalt waters of the Continental Shelf for the next two months.

While the big boats are now moving into full throttle, so the same can be said on the average angler’s front. The reef fishing has been consistent over the cooler months and now we are approaching spawning time for many species. There will be times when the fish will be ravenous, including coral trout, mackerel, emperors and the majority of reef fin species. The beauty is that the weather tends to stabilise at this time of year and many days are close to picture-postcard material on the water. There are not too many days on the reef at this time of year where you’ll luck out, so generally speaking it is a very productive time to be wetting a line on the Great Barrier Reef.

Besides searching down below for your fish, the surface activity is quite exceptional at this time of year. GT popper fishing goes into overdrive with the arrival of GT congregations on the outer reefs and sometimes there can be literally thousands of them. Experienced crews and anglers will know where these hot spots are and casting big blooping lures at pressure points and bait schools should entail plenty of classic encounters.

Additonally, the Spanish mackerel tend to be as aggressive as ever during this period and we’ll start to see more and more pelagic species arrive in numbers, including wahoo, mahi mahi and a variety of tuna species. Trolling a spread of surface lures, hardbody diving lures and rigged garfish is the recipe for some very entertaining light tackle sport fishing. The edges of the outer reef are prime locations with fresh currents stirring the pot beautifully.

Closer to home the ‘B’ word is the hot topic with the barramundi well and truly set to deliver. With one month to go until the closures starting in November, this coming month is the perfect time to target these trophy fish.

The water temperatures are at their optimum and the conditions are supreme in the build up to the wet season. You’ll see activity along the entire stretch of any system but there’s generally an increase in activity closer to the river mouths and estuaries where the saltwater pushes in.

A juicy live mullet is the best way to target a big barra, especially once you’ve established a concentration of them. They’ll be in a ravenous mood so big baits will become more attractive than ever. Night sessions generally yield the bigger models and are well worth the effort.

Those tides approaching the full and new moons are a good period to target a big bucket mouth.

If barra is not on the menu, there is a plethora of other species thriving during this spring fest, including fingermark, mangrove jack, trevally, queenfish, javelin fish and so on and on. Everything is extremely active and coming across half a dozen or more different species is the norm. It is one time of the year when you can confidently say the fishing will be mostly on fire in our rivers and creeks.

If you are intending of travelling up this way for a spot of fishing you will not be disappointed with all guns firing on all fronts. If you are after a guide or a charter you’d want to be quick, spaces are already limited.

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