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Sizzling summer fishing
  |  First Published: December 2012



It has been one of those really hot and dry wet seasons so far and a good dose of rain should be on its way soon.

These conditions are just part of the weather cycle with similar patterns occurring several years ago. Those experienced guides and skippers in the region including Steve Adamson from Dragon Lady and Jamie Beitzel from On the Daintree, all agreed and predicted this outcome a couple of months ago as they could literally feel the weather pattern in their bones. It goes to show that you simply can’t beat the experience of a good skipper.

Generally boating conditions have been mostly favourable for both the big and small boat brigade so fishing reports have been wide and varied. Beginning at the top of the scale the game fishing fleet wound up their heavy tackle season for the black marlin in November. It has been a consistent season with the big difference being a lot of bigger fish were tagged and released over the course of this two month run. The Port Douglas Marlin Challenge recorded 23 tags over 4 days of competition with the majority of fish between the 600-1000lb mark. There would not have been too many boats that fished consistently this marlin season and would have missed out on a grander. In fact several boats registered multiple catches of these titanic fish. The 2012 heavy tackle season reiterated that the waters between Cairns and Lizard Island boast the best black marlin fishery in the world.

Other than the marlin there has been some great fishing using the stand up light tackle gear particularly with the yellowfin tuna aggregations arriving and the good numbers of wahoo, mahi mahi and Spanish mackerel cruising the cobalt waters of the continental shelf. This style of fishing will be the focus for most game operators this month with more sailfish hopefully turning up. If they are prepared to travel that bit wider they’ll be in the hunt for blue marlin as well.

The reef fishing has, in recent weeks, just become that bit tougher as the mercury has risen and this generally happens at this time of year. However when the current has been running the results have been quite reasonable with coral trout, large mouth nannygai, moses perch, stripeys, spangled emperor, sweetlip, Spanish mackerel on the float and a variety of trevally species appreciating this water movement. The days when the lines are running straight up and down with no current, that’s when the results have been below par. Sometimes it’s hard to predict what the current will be doing until you head out to your fishing destination. The days where the tides are moving the most amount of water over the shortest period of time is a good starting point to enjoying some success. Do however avoid the full moon itself, as this traditionally is not a good time to be reef fishing. Also the best results have been found in the deepest waters, between the 35m-60m mark whether it be day or night.

Closer to home the coastal inshore patches and wonky holes have delivered some really nice catches of large mouth nannygai, gold spot cod and trevallies in recent times. They are a tough prospect to work out because one day they fire completely and the next it can be lifeless. The beauty is that these locations are generally not too far from the boat ramp and it’s a quick trip home if proceedings are not favourable. Early morning starts at these structures is when the best results have occurred.

In the rivers and creeks they are demanding a good dose of rain to help flush out the systems. Sourcing live bait has become extremely hard and anglers have had no choice at times but revert to using lures and soft plastics to acquire their catches. In saying this there has been consistent reports of quality mangrove jack and fingermark being caught mainly on live bait if you can source it. The lure action has been productive on the queenfish, trevally and the tarpon which are easily identified as they fin the surface in the deeper holes. Smaller metal slices and soft plastics retrieved through these schools has seen some great action on the light spinning gear. These surface fish are early risers and they are quite active on the first sign of daylight.

It is always a busy festive period in the Far North and here’s hoping to a successful 2013 and a very sedate cyclone season ahead.

Quality fingermark have been a staple catch on the Daintree River with James Beitzel’s Charters.

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