Mack attack
  |  First Published: August 2014

It’s been happy days in the Port Douglas region as we’ve been experiencing a dream run on the fish over the last couple of months, especially along our local inshore and offshore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef.

As to be expected the majority of the news is coming off the blue highway with reef and pelagic species all performing admirably. Winter, or the dry season, is prime time to target fish around the reefs and there has been a plethora of fish to tangle with. Calm, picture postcard days are absolute key to the best fishing as long as there has been some decent run in the tide.

To begin with the reef fishing at times has truly peaked with some very impressive reports filtering through, especially when we’ve received those beautiful calm days. Calm days allow anglers to anchor properly and fish the open deeper waters. Whereas in previous months the weather was mostly ordinary and accessing these deep hangs was quite rare and catches were patchy. However in recent times the tables have turned and catch rates have gone through the roof. The most notable species has been the large mouth nannygai species, which has been fishing extremely well in these deeper sections across rubble patches and isolated patches out in the open grounds. Big model fish between 8-10kg have been very consistent and once on the bite the action is thick and fast with plenty of grunt to go with it. Also working in tandem on quite a few occasions have been the trevally species which cover similar grounds. Which trevally species will turn up in mass is a bit of a guessing game as there’s been bludger, tea-leaf, brassy, golden, gold spot and big eye all turn up at various stages. Some days the fishing off the bottom has been absolute mayhem and left anglers with sore backs, extended arms and big smiles from ear to ear. The coral trout have been a bit patchy in the shallower waters over these cooler months so far but there have been plenty of spangled emperor, sweetlip and stripeys to fill the creel. The coral trout will not stay idle forever and there will come a time soon when they become the staple catch on the reef.

On the pelagic scene the offshore and coastal reefs have seen an abundance of mackerel species predominantly being Spanish and spotted mackerel. In certain pockets of water, particularly closer to the shoreline, there has also been good numbers of grey and school mackerel. Most would agree that this has been the best mackerel season we’ve seen in many a year and the mackerel have been accounted for by floating pilchards on mackerel rigs and also trolling them up with ease with a spread of lures.

There’s been an abundance of bait around this year and where there’s bait there’s normally the predators in tow. As a bonus there been a few small black marlin start to show up early this year and if there’s plenty of mackerel around one would expect these stallions to be around in numbers as well. I know of quite a few skippers keeping a close eye on the wide grounds south of Port Douglas and they are hoping they turn up in big numbers just like they did a couple of years ago. The gut feeling is that it will be a good light tackle season on these fish over the next month or so.

Closer to home the river and creek action is probably at its toughest but as the days gradually warm up there will be a bit more activity. Currently there are a few golden snapper and mangrove jack to be caught but the winter species are really dominating catches at the moment. Big plump bream, grunter, small trevally and queenfish, estuary cod and flathead have been at the forefront with the odd barra being caught on small soft plastics. Downsizing your presentation for barra is a key factor as they are not big feeders during the cooler months.

With the region now jam packed with tourist numbers there are plenty of keen anglers amongst them. Calm days with a bit of run in the current is the ingredient required to enjoy a special day on the water and the reef will continue to offer the best fishing at this time of the year.

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