Fishing frenzy begins
  |  First Published: October 2013

It has been one of those winter seasons where we have experienced the highs and lows of fishing in the tropics. We've seen some of the most superb weather at times and then this has been followed up by some of the worst you could imagine.

In saying all this we are now entering a period where you would expect the weather to settle, allowing angling opportunities to become more consistent across the board. We are entering an exciting period where will see all our tropical species on the bite whether it be inshore or offshore, big or small. The big shift in focus in the coming months switches to the arrival black marlin along the edges of the continental shelf on the Great Barrier Reef. Game boats all shapes and sizes have arrived in the region for their chance to lure the ultimate sporting fish. Approximately 85% of the world’s 1000lb fish caught are registered along our stretch of the Great Barrier Reef. The last couple of years produced bumper numbers of big fish and we are anticipating another cracking season ahead. We will see the running of a couple of prized tournaments including the Lizard Island and the Port Douglas Marlin Challenge tournaments during October and early November. When combined, these two tournaments cover 11 days of hardcore fishing by some of the most seasoned vessels and crews in the country and will determine how the bite is going this year. Leading into the heavy tackle season, the small black marlin season only produced moderate numbers of fish this year but this does not necessarily translate to the bigger models.

Apart from the marlin, in between the big bites there’s plenty of sensational light tackle action to be enjoyed as we start to see the arrival of the yellowfin tuna schools, the wahoo come in along the shelf and the dolphin fish schools will arrive in numbers at some point. A day filled with catching some great light tackle sportfish followed up by trumping a monster black marlin is as good as it gets and thus the reason why anglers from all over the world flock to the region. With the economy on the improve charter vessels are gearing up for a rather busy period ahead.

On the reef the fishing during October should continue along at a steady rate of knots, especially following the first spate of reef closures at the beginning of the month. If the fish have successfully spawned they can come on the bite in a ravenous way, especially when it comes to the coral trout. Having congregated into the shallower waters they will disperse out into the open grounds with nothing but food on the mind. Those in the know as to where these congregations occur can find themselves neck deep right in among these fish. A couple of our other prized species including the large mouth nannygai and red emperor should continue to fire particularly in the deeper waters. Not only during the day will these fish be available but on the turns of the tide at night these fish have the ability to turn up in massive numbers which equates to hectic times on the deck. Generally speaking the depth of water you should be fishing is between the 40-60m range across the rubble patches and isolated bommies for your best results. Not only will these fish be busy but you will also have plenty of others to contend with including reef jacks, sweetlip, cobia, Spanish mackerel, spangled emperor, trevally species including bludger, gold spot, golden and tealeaf. If you can combine good weather with a day out to the reef in all of its glory, there’s no better way to spend time in the tropics.

Not only is there plenty of action on the blue water, but our rivers and creeks really heat up and start to produce the goods. Finally the barramundi are out in search of food along the entire river and creek systems. They’ll be partial to live baits such as mullet, herring and sardines and a variety of hardbody and soft plastic lures dragged in front of their nose will get a reaction. Being nocturnal predators, late afternoon and into the evening is prime time to target these fish but on the turns of the tide during the day you’ll see them spark into action for short periods. The next month or so is probably the most consistent conditions you can have to chase down a barra before the wet season weather kicks in and can disrupt their mood. Already the mangrove jacks are in full flight and will be even more aggressive as the days warm up. If you are fishing in among heavy structure, whether it with lure or bait, they’ll strike hard and you’ll need to be instantly locked up and on your toes.

There’s plenty of other prime fish to target including golden snapper, as they will be active in the deeper holes and they are best targeted with a juicy live bait dangled in front of their nose on the slowest part of the tide whether it is the top or the bottom of the run.

We’ll have healthy stocks of queenfish and trevally sweeping through our systems on the incoming tides and can be followed right upstream to the deeper bends and holes where they’ll feed until the turn of the tide.

Across the flats in shallow water on the incoming tide our grunter stocks will be busy and a strip of fresh dead bait or even better, fresh live bait will not go unnoticed.

Around the river mouths and along the adjacent beaches blue salmon should be around in numbers and when in the mood will not hesitate to devour a lure or even take the lazy approach and take a well-presented fresh dead bait. Low light periods will fish best and try to avoid the heat of the midday sun

No matter which rod you pick up during October, whether it be a light spinning rod or you take up the challenge of using a 130lb heavy tackle outfit, you are assured of seeing some great action in October in far north Qld. I believe it is the best all round month to be fishing in the tropics.

The big black marlin become a big focus during the months of October and November in FNQ. Picture supplied by Saltaire Charters.

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