Reach for angling success
  |  First Published: November 2012

November up in the wilds of Cape York Peninsula is a real mixed blessing when it comes to camping, exploring and fishing. This is the best time of year for accessing those hard to reach places.

Much of the Cape is closed during and following the wet season due to roads being cut and raging creeks and rivers. However, this month will have creeks dry, rivers trickling and roads bumpy rather than boggy.

What happens late in the dry season is that all the food, resources and fish that were spread out, now have to concentrate in a smaller amount of water left behind. Cape York is a jumbled mess of crisscrossing waterways leaving behind vast wetlands, swamps and lagoons. It is these areas that hold the key to fishing late in the dry. Although many are hard to reach, some will have world-class fishing, especially with opportunities to sight cast to cruising fish.

Imagine the west coast of Cape York Peninsula with its enormous variety of snaking rivers that wind their way out into the Gulf. Nearly each of them will by now have a huge system of land-locked lagoons and billabongs. Some of the fish getting trapped behind in these places include barramundi, saratoga, sooty grunter, coal bream, tarpon, an array of catfish and more than their fair share of crocodiles. If you are fishing either from the bank or from a small boat in most far flung places of Cape York, be very saltwater crocodile vigilant.

Saratoga are a predatory fish and very opportunistic when things fall down from above. They have upturned eyes and a very large up slung mouth full of bones and teeth and not much more. Although quite hard to hook and sometimes harder to land, saratoga fishing has many happy advocates up in the Cape. The added bonus is that barramundi live in the same areas and fall to the same techniques.

During November, the best two times of the day will usually be early morning and late afternoon; cast surface lures around until the light fades.

Some of these landlocked spots will have lily pads to contend with while others may have rushes, vines and sunken timber. All provide great cover and habitat for saratoga, sooty grunter and barra. Bait fishing will also take care of these species during November but you will greatly increase your catches of catfish!

Looking at the other side of Cape York, November can be a fantastic month for heading offshore and long range. Most of the east coast will be experiencing ‘variables’ with pockets of calm interspersed with blustery south or nor-easterly breezes. And being late spring many food webs will be supercharged this time of year.

Mackerel and trout and many reef dwelling critters will come up into shallower waters at times and will concentrate around rock and reef patches.

Ocean currents will be carrying enormous varieties of food that supplement the lives of the tiniest little fish, right the way up to the great marlin and sharks. It is a hungry time of year for most of them and a terrifying time of year for some. Even for anglers the heat, dust, fires and flies, which typify November, might be enough to keep most away. Those keen enough to brave all this will appreciate the beautiful oasis of life, which spring up when the rest of the landscape has gone dry, making them even more special and fish filled!


A decent spangled emperor line fished in 10m of water.


Who knows what you might pull up over the shallow reefs in November? Like this tycoo octopus.

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