Inviting newcomers into the realm of fishing can be both challenging and rewarding at the same time.
Invariably the conversation touches on topics such as patience, skill and luck. Biggest captures and tails of epic battles are usually close behind and someone new to the sport can often have their hopes and dreams filled with glorious expectation. April is one such month where expectations can be blown sky high with numbers of small to medium sized barramundi literally crawling over each other to grab a lure. Take advantage of these run-off conditions and get amongst the barra fishing while it’s hot.
Fishing in pristine areas, such as Cape York, anglers can often fall foul of the idea that the fish are literally everywhere and ‘why the heck are they not just jumping all over my line!’ Fishing is fishing, and those who discover the secrets can usually secure a feed in built up areas and even cities. It is these same characters who will consistently catch fish in the tropics and who should have their brains picked by novices to the sport.
Working as a fishing guide and introducing many newcomers to my favourite pastime, managing expectations has been critical to make sure everyone walks away contented. I have had captains boasting of cricket-score catches of barramundi minutes before clients jump aboard my tender for a day’s fishing. I have had exclamations that “Round here, we don’t call it fishing, we call it catching!”
In my experience all this does is heighten expectations and lower enjoyment. Even if someone expecting to catch a lot does catch a lot, they struggle to enjoy it as much as someone simply out there to have a good time. Regardless of the skills, experience or expectations of those in my boat, I always consider my first task as focussing everyone on their surroundings. An attempt to match the expectations of the day with the conditions and scenarios unfolding before them.
Many anglers, and indeed people in general, thrive off competition. In a day on the water, having a healthy rivalry between anglers and a spirited ribbing of someone doing less well than yourself is all par for the course. My only advice is to keep competition light-hearted and try to ensure everyone wetting a line has an equally good time.
Sometimes I need to take off the serious fishing hat and just remember what is was that I loved so much the first time I wound in a crab on my toddler’s toy fishing rod. An unseen quarry in a wonderful blue viscous labyrinth was waiting there with all sorts of secrets ready to unfold. I try and remember this feeling when introducing newcomers to the sport.
Without a doubt, those on the fastest learning curve and usually the luckiest, are people who are casting a line into the water for the first time. Beginners are usually the most receptive to advice, and those with enough patience to carry them through a few fishless sessions will invariably show you up before long!
This has happened a few times recently cruising around the spectacular reef edges and sandy bays of the Torres Strait. My most recent inductee told me this morning that she seems to get a strike only when she is feeling relaxed and usually when she least expects it. Beginners luck is alive and well I can tell you! But what happens when a beginner gains experience. Anticipation becomes a key factor for those wishing to catch fish consistently. Put simply, you need to believe. Believe there is a bite or a strike or a whopper just around the next corner.
With the wet season run-off now into full swing and the multitude of bays littering Cape York now chocker-block with bait all shapes and sizes, the prognosis is good for April. Looking at the weather map right this moment, the monsoon trough is spreading its drizzly wings across the centre of the Cape and a worrying low is creeping slowly east. All the makings of the tumultuous conditions needed to spark great post-wet season fishing in far north Queensland.Reads: 530