As we enter another New Year we find ourselves in the tropics slightly ahead of schedule in regards to the wet season.
The build up to the wet season began in mid November and a substantial amount of rain descended upon the region, which brought on some really steamy hot days. All within the industry agreed the seasons seemed to be about a month ahead of normal activity. Examples of this were reinforced with the rapid drop in big black marlin catches during the middle stages of November when it normally it should be at its absolute peak. At the same time local prawn trawler operations ceased operation a month ahead of schedule simply because the prawns had disappeared. On the reef, catch rates were very patchy leading into the December period, something you’d start to expect following the New Year. Along with the rain a lot of barra were sighted around the headlands and along the beaches at the breakthrough creeks, which probably suggested they were in for an early spawn this time around. The first cyclone formed across the top end was apparently the earliest on record in something like 50 years. All indications point towards a decent wet season, something that was lacking severely the previous year.
There has been however some productive fishing and expect this to remain during the early parts of the New Year, obviously dictated by the amount of rain we actually receive.
The rivers and creeks have been going gangbusters at times with plenty of mangrove jack and golden snapper to entertain us. The jacks have been quite active on the outgoing tide hard up against the mangrove banks holding good structure. The golden snapper on the top and the bottom of the tide have been busy in the deeper holes.
On the incoming tides, most of our systems are holding good numbers of mid-sized queenfish and trevally, which come raging through with the current. Further upstream the deeper holes have been a holding office for massive schools of tarpon that have been biting best on small lures on the first turn of the outgoing tide. They are quite easily spotted as the dorsal fins protrude the surface as they swim around.
Across the open flats there’s been some good action on the golden trevally and grunter and have been partial to fresh dead or live baits.
Our coastal inshore patches, which might be isolated rubble patches, bommies or wrecks, have been producing some superb catches. Big large-mouth nannygai, gold spot cod, trevally species and bar cheek trout have been regularly sourced by the locals. There’s also been quite a few school mackerel roaming the inshore waters and they have been subdued by casting and retrieving metal slices or small popper across the surface. As a bonus at times there’s been some cranking schools of longtail tuna cruising through as well and they go like the clappers when you hook up using light spin gear.
Offshore on the reef, the coral trout have remained fairly consistent but probably the most dominant species have been stripeys and Moses perch. They’ve been landed in healthy numbers and, to be honest, they are on the bigger size for these species. Even though they are smaller in stature compared to other fish but they are truly superb to eat on the plate.
There’s been other species around including spangled emperor, long nose emperor, large-mouth nannygai, cobia, a variety of trevally and the occasional red emperor but nothing has come on the bite in any serious manner.
The offshore stand up light tackle scene, particularly on the contours of the shelf, have been quite productive for likes of yellowfin tuna, wahoo, Spanish mackerel and mahi mahi. Some are lucky enough have come across sailfish as well and their numbers seem to be above par this season.
Further off the shelf, there’s been some massive congregations of yellowfin tuna, which have been known to hang around in January as well. Good weather is totally essential to go beyond the horizon in pursuit of these fish.
From this point on it all boils down to what the wet season has install for us and the opportunities it will present. Everyone is waiting with bated breath as to what our summer period will deliver.Reads: 540