Green around the gills
  |  First Published: June 2013

June in the far northern reaches of Cape York is unlike anywhere else in Australia. It will retain the warm weather conditions consistently and, even though locals call it cool, 21-28ºC is a damn nice range to have your temperature set.

What I appreciate most about June is that cooler weather and calm pleasant conditions are often combined with an environment that sees both the land and rivers retain a touch of green. Aquifers that support many of the rivers and spring-fed creeks of Cape York will still have some charge left over from the wet season just passed.

For a variety of reasons, the freshwater systems within Cape York will usually shut down once the flow of freshwater has ceased. Fish such as sooty grunter, saratoga, jungle perch and barramundi get the sulks and hold up in their favourite stretch of waterway, or simply perish if they fail to find secure cover.

Each year there are plenty of slippery crocodiles, ready to walk that extra mile across Cape York’s flat expanses to find that secret little water hole full of trapped fish and concentrated game. Time is now on their side and it is likely to be Christmas before relief comes from the sky to raise the rivers again.

Although fish will normally spread out once waterways cease to flow, the periods of dawn and dusk seem to bring out instinct hunting in predators. The head and tail ends of long pools are the best places to concentrate your efforts, as well as any big log jams that provide good cover for baitfish.

Casting poppers, fizzers and frog patterns as close to first and last light is a sure fire way to get your heart racing. No matter how many times those gleaming yellow-orange eyes of a barramundi transfix themselves on your skittering surface lure, the thrill and heart-stopping excitement of a surface strike never fails.

On some of the larger westerly flowing systems of Cape York, June can sometimes see large releases of weed and green slime from upstream sections of river. Similarly, some of the large estuarine lakes can also see low oxygen levels and stagnant looking water as algae and weed float very slowly into the rivers. In my experience, these events can trigger some pretty drastic shut downs in the bite, so best to just go and try your luck somewhere else.

Heading out offshore, some of the pelagic fishing will be firing on all cylinders. Picking your moments between the large high pressure systems that dominate the dry season weather is crucial to getting offshore on the east coast. However much of the shallow reef country in the Gulf will be relatively calm and fish well this time of year.

Large bait balls will be concentrating just offshore right around Cape York about now, so make sure a few spin rods are always at the ready. Small metal slices, soft plastics and of course flies and feather jigs will all attract those speedy critters patrolling the edges for an easy meal. Different tactics will work in different locations and half the fun in fishing will be working out what motivates the speedy creatures near you.

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