Winter so far has been an absolute cracker, cool nights have flowed into beautiful warm days and while there has been a few patches of strong wind, for the most part, sea conditions have been quite favorable.
Water colour throughout winter is one of the major factors dictating the quality of the fishing offshore and while there has been some top pelagic fishing available, that slight tinge of milky green just won’t go away.
Out wide this water has kept the billfish pretty quiet so far and the large schools of Spanish mackerel haven’t turned up yet, but it is only early days and I would expect both of these fisheries to start firing as we move through August.
Closer inshore, the fishing has been diverse and at times exceptional. Putting time in on the closer shallow reefs and bait schools of Albatross Bay has really been the way to go this year with the quality and size of the fish as good as I can remember. Big queenfish and trevally have been firing up on the hapless baitfish schools often pushing them into water only a few feet deep, in fact it’s been in that 10-20ft of water that has seen the best fishing. These bait schools also help to fire up other species in the area.
Golden snapper will often follow the bait schools from reef to reef, so keep an eye on the sounder for even the smallest piece of rubble as these can often hold some lovely fish. I like to have a spare rod rigged with a lead head jig or plastic in this situation, with the best technique to troll the area with a couple of different lure depths and keeping an eye on the sounder. When a nice bait school or show of fish are found, if a lap or two on the troll can’t get a bite, a quick drift or two jigging can often stir one up.
Along the beaches and around the river mouths have seen some lovely clear water, particularly on the neap tides. Couple this with a cloudless day and you have some of the best flyfishing conditions around. On these beautiful clear days, stealth is the way to go so be patient by anchoring, letting the fish come to you or by doing slow drifts over the flats with an electric motor.
For those die-hard fly fishos these are the conditions and time of year you want to chase yourself down one of those elusive permit. The boys from Fish’s Fly and Sportfishing have been putting their clients (and themselves on days off) onto some lovely fish on these flats with nice permit to 20lb and blue bastards (painted sweetlip) taken with real consistency.
August would have to be just about the best month on the calendar for camping trips on Cape York. Whether it is one of the Gulf’s many beautiful beaches or the awesome freshwater creeks and rivers in the area, it is a great way to get out and about with friends and family. The nights are nice and cool for sitting around the fire, while the days get warm enough to have a refreshing cool off in shallow areas that are safe to do so.
Fishing wise these freshwater sections and billabongs are the way to go. Sooty grunter love the fast flowing sections while the barra and saratoga are more consistent in the deeper backwater areas along with the lagoons.
Usually it’s the afternoon that produces best in these landlocked lagoons as the water has had the heat of the day to warm the water and entice particularly the barra to feed. Often if its been dead quiet all day, which can happen, it’s worth a go with a surface lure for an hour or so after dark, this surface action can often be heard from camp and if you have scoped out a croc safe area to have a cast from, a great session can be had.
Saratoga and sooty grunter are less susceptible to shutting down in the cold or windy weather like barra, so downsizing your lure and putting some time into the main river will keep the action happening.Reads: 910