A new chapter begins
  |  First Published: May 2014

As we approach the tail end of the wet season the crossover period into the dry part of the year is about to transform.

This year in the tropics we’ve had what you would call a healthy wet season with consistent rainfall for a couple of months. This is the foundation for good fishing ahead, not just later this year but next year as well.

All our major rivers, creeks and estuaries have had a good flush out and have distributed an abundance of fresh food and new life along the coastline. This past month or so has seen some phenomenal jelly prawn hatches along our beaches, which in turn created an absolute fish feeding frenzy. It was a real spectacle to witness as thousands upon thousands of fish gorging themselves on this coastal caviar. Barra, tarpon, queenfish, blue salmon, flathead, dart, trevally and permit all were part of this incredible part of the food chain. Flyfishers cashed in on the action better than anyone else, followed by anglers using small poppers and soft plastics.

There has also been a healthy supply of mature prawns along the beaches and flats which has also been a beacon for attracting the predatory fish.  

Also consistently throughout April our rivers and creeks performed admirably for barra, with plenty of juveniles about in the upper reaches and with some monster fish up to 1.2m being caught closer to the entrances. There was an abundance of mangrove jack amongst the snags and the golden snapper (fingermark) were prowling the deeper sections.

With plenty of bait around, our coastal islands, wrecks and headlands fished very well for a variety of trevally while our inshore patches and wonky holes had some bright moments on the large-mouth nannygai (saddletail snapper) and gold-spot cod. A few Spanish mackerel have also recently turned up right along these coastal features and there is a lot of good value to be had targeting these areas.

On the Great Barrier Reef we saw an improvement in the fishing, with more consistent catches on coral trout, large-mouth nannygai and emperor species. Also at times the Spanish mackerel turned up in solid numbers when there was good run in the tide, and the average size was around the 8-10kg range. Scaly mackerel were also in tow and there were days when reels turned on a consistent basis.

There was also some great GT fishing to be done casting poppers on the pressure points of reefs where the bait was accumulating. The outgoing tides produced the best results with stonker fish caught up to 36kg.


Looking ahead, May is an exciting time – especially on the reef. With a change in currents running back to the north the cooler water ignites our reef species into overdrive, and if you can be part of this first drive the fishing can be manic. All the red species fire up and the reef mangrove jack is one fish which can really turn it up on the change of the season. You’d also expect catches of pelagics like mackerel and cobia to become more frequent as well.

Inshore there’s probably a few more weeks where the barra will feed before taking a back seat when the cooler nights kick in. In saying this, trevally and queenfish action will pick up considerably and compensate for the fall in barra activity. Fingermark will remain relatively consistent and the jacks won’t back off too much either. Along our beaches and flats May is also a great time to target blue salmon and grunter on those incoming tides, and along certain sections of the coastline the bigger and hard running snub-nosed dart or permit will be feeding. The beaches and river mouth flats of the Daintree River are not a bad places to tangle with these superb sportfish. Flathead, trevally, queenfish and dart will also be present along our glorious stretches of beaches so there’s quite a bit on offer in the region.

We will see some of those picture postcard days this coming month, and with comfortable land temperatures and stunning blue water there’s going to be happy days in the tropics and the fishing will be just fine.

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