After a lengthy but healthy wet season we’re now settling into our beautiful tropic winter stretch. The days are generally very appealing and it’s a fantastic time to head to the reef if the winds allow.
Ocean currents by now have swung to the north and the ocean temperature has dropped significantly, igniting our reef species into serious action.
To date there’s already been a big shift in catch rates and that first swing of the ocean current from the south sparked a chain reaction across the board. All manner of reef species came on the bite in fantastic fashion, and the variety of fish caught on any given day has been staggering. There’s been plenty of your preferred target species such as coral trout and large-mouth nannygai (saddletail snapper) being caught which has been awesome, but there’s also been a mixed bag of other species as well. Tea-leaf trevally, reef mangrove jack, spangled emperor (yellow sweetlip), tomato cod, tuskfish, golden trevally, gold spot trevally, cobia, stripies and moses perch are just a small sample of the extra variety out there. Top this up with a sprinkling of Spanish mackerel, whether they are caught on the troll or on a floating pilchard, and you have a sensational blend of fish for the table.
One particular species which has shown up more often late has been the tough nut reef mangrove jack. They go like the clappers on the end of a line and are big suckers for a live bait such as fusilier suspended under a float halfway down the water column. While targeting nannygai on isolated deep bommies there have been plenty of jack caught on the side as well using this floating method. The added bonus is that if you don’t have a reef jack on the end of the line it will most likely be a Spanish mackerel instead, which simply cannot resist a live fusilier dangled in front of its face.
There’s also been some great fishing closer to home along the coastline. Our Snapper Island region has seen some 1m queenfish cruising these waters, and more and more Spanish mackerel are patrolling the area as well. The queenfish have been enjoying a healthy supply of baitfish thanks to the solid wet season we received. Queenies are very partial to a big popper splashed across the surface or, if you can source them, they will devour a live sardine trolled at a very, very slow pace with the aid of a very light sinker placed on top of the hook – this method is dynamite.
To add to this coastal scene there have been quite a few school mackerel starting to gather in numbers in the general area. Additionally, isolated reef patches, wonky holes and wrecks are consistently producing quality numbers and sizes of large-mouth nannygai.
Our rivers and creeks are now going through a bit of a transitional change as water temperatures start to drop. We’ve had a good extended run on the barra this year and this has just recently started to taper off. In saying this, stretches of shallower water which receive plenty of sunlight and warmth during the day are still producing fish.
Now we’ll start to see quite a few more trevally and queenfish moving in on those run-in tides and there will be plenty of quality grunter, flathead and blue salmon cruising the flats when covered in water. There still will be value amongst the snags for mangrove jack and the deeper holes will still produce fingermark on the top of the tide. For the bread and butter anglers, the next few months will be red hot with a run of good sized bream kicking about as well.
Our glorious beaches will also be worth a look on those calm days with flathead, whiting, blue salmon, queenfish and golden trevally likely to be cruising through with the making tide. It’s worth making note on a very low tide where the gutters lie and return to those spots as the water rises. The fish will use these contours of the land as a way of navigating along the beaches and you’ll want to be in that path when they cruise by.
June marks a new chapter in the fishing stakes and when one section dries up another door quickly opens. The only deterrent at this time of year can be the trademark southeasterly winds which can block days of activity on end. Other than that though, it’s a sensational time to be wetting a line in Far North Queensland.Reads: 715