Last year ended with a flurry of fishing tales as the monsoon trough gathered momentum. While some forms of fishing shut down others fired up, which is the beauty of the tropics.
The marlin season slowed considerably leading into December with the best reports coming off very wide of the shelf. There was still the odd bruiser at our local haunts of Opal Ridge and Linden Bank but their bites were spread over days.
The yellowfin tuna congregations also dispersed so there was no real concentration of fish in one particular area making for long days at sea, often with no result. Overall it was an average marlin season. Going by the rule of thumb of fluctuating seasons, hopefully next year will be a boomer!
That said, charter vessels still encountered sufficient fish around the 900lb mark with the biggest weighed in at Cairns at a whopping 1325lb. Our local waters are the best black marlin fishery in the world after all.
Days using light tackle offered more opportunity recently with patches of yellowfin tuna and mahi mahi bobbing up. These species are your best option if heading to the shelf for action in the coming month. Wahoo, which haven't made a huge impact to date, should also be part of the package in January.
Inside the reef there have been great congregations of Spanish mackerel, with the mack tuna schools have become busy again on open grounds. The best Spanish mackerel to come off the charter boats weighed in at a hefty 34kg. There is a great batch of small fry bait not far offshore and the hordes have been massing. Hopefully this may be the case in January, depending on how much rain we receive. The more rain the harder fishing will get.
Reef fishing was good for coral trout in early December after the last reef closure, but overall it will get tougher as the water temperature increases. Your best chance this month in calm weather is to fish deep and for the reds. Night options will provide more results if the weather allows. As many would know the electrical storms in the evenings have been huge so be sure to check for a clear forecast before going to fish at night.
There are still good reports of tealeaf trevally and spangled emperor to mix up a good eating batch.
The rivers and creeks went through a quiet patch during the hot calm days but then fired at night, particularly for fingermark and jack.
The beaches in the low light periods during the day saw all sorts patrolling the waters edge including big GT, blue salmon, tarpon, barra, permit and queenfish. There has even been a rare congregation of bonefish, which you often don't get to hear about. All the beaches along our local coast have been offering opportunities for bait, live bait, lure and fly anglers. The bait supply coastally has been jam packed with jelly prawns, whiting, sardines, hardy heads and small fry. Again it will all depend how much rain we receive to determine what spoils we can enjoy.
With a dim picture painted by the bureau for a heavy cyclone season this year, we will just have to sit on the fence for now and see what this new chapter holds.Reads: 1689