November glory
  |  First Published: November 2013

Everything has been in full swing in Far North Queensland in all aspects of the fishing world, with big game, reef, coastal and river fishing all being well represented.

The heavy tackle marlin season really gathered some momentum at the start of October, with a range of different sized marlin being registered from the Cairns/Port Douglas grounds right up north to the Ribbon Reefs. As it often happens, the smaller models turned up in good numbers in anticipation of the big females arriving from the Coral Sea waters. There were are lot of 200-300lb males tagged and released with the odd ‘Big Julie’ up to 900lb bobbing up from time to time.

As the weeks progressed, more and more sizeable fish turned up on the edge of the continental shelf for the mating season and found themselves face-to-face with many a game boat. There’s no doubting that the Ribbon Reefs are a prime spot to target these amazing fish during October, and with a strong contingency of boats fishing that far north the numbers of fish caught and released are quite healthy.

As November comes around, however, the marlin concentration tends to gradually move south. This is the time when the fishing between Escape Reef, Opal Ridge, Linden Bank and the Jenny Louise Reefs becomes red hot.

It’s also the time when we start to see more monster fish about, and there’s no doubt that quite a few will surpass the magic 1000lb range. Once you’ve witnessed a monster fish on the end of a line you become addicted for the rest of your life. It really is a moment that lives with you forever!

The once-quiet waters of the shelf will be buzzing with boats of all sizes chancing their arm at the Holy Grail of fishing. The up and coming Port Douglas Marlin Challenge will also see the best boats in the country compete over a 4-day tournament from November 7-10 to see who can tag and release the most marlin. The competition has grown in statue in recent years and is now considered a must do Blue Ribbon Tournament amongst the industry.

It’s not all about the marlin during November because the light tackle scene on the same grounds offers some absolutely brilliant fishing. Already there are bumper yellowfin tuna schools working the edge and, with a lot of these fish pushing the 40kg size, catching one is no mean feat. Coupled with a steady supply of wahoo also working the waters, the stand up light tackle gear becomes a fun-filled session once you tap into a feeding frenzy.

The mahi mahi will also gather momentum during November and there’s always a realistic chance of picking up a sailfish or two well up in the more shallow grounds.

For the more relaxed fisho the reef fishing on the outer reefs has continued to roll along nicely. This should continue throughout November but as the days get warmer and warmer the action will taper off to some degree. The majority of reef species did spawn during the early parts of October and they could do again at the start of November. There’s been some amazing catches a couple of weeks prior to the spawning period, especially on the coral trout. They tend to go into lockjaw mode as the new moon approaches and following the spawning period will feed ravenously in the shallows before dispersing back out to deeper waters.

The numbers of large-mouth nannygai seemed to drop off margainly during October but I can assure you the quality did not. There were collectively across the region a lot of big fish caught between the 8-10kg range.

Between the coastal and outer reefs there’s been a bit of pelagic activity; mainly northern bluefin tuna and school mackerel. While travelling, always keep a roving eye for birds working the water and have some lures ready to present in amongst the action. Casting stick baits, poppers and metal slices have all experienced success as well as trolling hardbody and small skirted lures.

The barramundi closures take effect for the next few months but the mangrove jack and golden snapper fishing has been excellent in many of our local tributaries in recent times. They’ll really hit their straps this coming month and as the days reach boiling point, low light and after dark periods will probably produce your best results. The jacks will bite best on the turn of the tide and the golden snapper are best targeted on the top or the very bottom of the tide.

During the day there will still be a steady supply of mid sized GT and queenfish to keep you well and truly occupied, especially on the incoming tides. The local mangrove flats should also produce quite a few prime-sized javelin fish and golden trevally on those clean incoming tides.

We are still amongst some of the best fishing you could ever want to experience and it should be an adventurous few weeks ahead.

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