After a belated wet season, the past month has seen some red hot action for all facets of fishing in the fertile waters around the Cooktown region.
There have been some great gaps in the weather allowing every sized trailer boat to get amongst the reef fishing action and no one has gone home empty-handed.
Cooktown Barra Charters and Gone Fishing have been cleaning up around the South Bedford headlands with good school-sized Spaniards up to 8kg, longtail tuna and queenfish and have also been producing some cobia for clients. Small, 150mm long hardbodied lures and 7” jerk shads have taken most of the fish, however the ever-reliable floating pilly is never left untouched for long.
There have been some great golden snapper, saddle-tailed sea perch and bar cheek trout coming off the closest Bedford Wreck on large, fresh flesh baits of hussar and Spanish flag. As usual, the hordes of undersized crimson sea perch are hard work to get through if using pillies as their tell-tale, repetitive, machine gun like bites strip soft baits in seconds.
This is one of the main reasons why I like to use larger flesh baits when fishing for any lutjanid species and the added flash of the yellow tails from the hussar and Spanish flags are often too hard for a big bar cheek trout to refuse. I have used smaller baits of pilchard and nailed 40cm trout on every bait, however as soon as I put down a big butterflied fillet of hussar with the tail feathered out, within a few minutes of it being in the water, it usually results in a 750mm trout or good sized red emperor.
When chasing better quality reef fish, big baits equals better sized fish, however if rubbish like sharks, cod and cuda are in the area, be prepared for a lengthy fight with something that you don’t want near the boat!
The weather has allowed for some good diving and spearfishing and the inshore headlands have been producing some good fish and crays, although keep in mind of the ever present crocodiles associated with inshore diving. Mark from Gone Fishing spotted a 4m croc cruising around the shoreline at South Bedford in mid-February!
The rivers have been fishing well around the mouths with some great barra, golden snapper and jacks being caught. As usual, hardbodies, Squidgies and big live pike are doing the damage. The pelagic action has somewhat slowed down although they can still be found in plague proportions around the headlands.
The next few months will see some great land-based mackerel fishing around the wharf and also from the Endeavour River mouth rock wall. Unweighted sards and pike are the best bet if you want to tussle with these tasty speedsters!Reads: 874