While August can usually be Cooktown’s windiest month, there may be some hope for the offshore fishers if the last months weather is anything to go by.
Some keen anglers managed half a dozen offshore trips last month, which for Cooktown in the middle of winter is a rarity! Trout, nannygai and Spaniards dominated the reports with some cracker Spaniards nearing the 30kg mark coming in. Further down the coast towards Cairns and Innisfail the cooler weather from June till September usually means it’s time to chase the big Spaniards around the islands. Cooktown is lucky in the fact that they are here in big numbers for 12 months of the year.
Although you can see Spaniards on an offshore trip anywhere in FNQ during any month of the year, the further south you go from Cooktown there seems to be an influx of punters targeting XOS Spaniards. While they may be a worthy target on any trip, the winter period is when the genuine horse fish get caught. I saw a fish a few years ago getting filleted by locals at the Bloomfield River ramp that went 42kg! This fish is the biggest Spaniard I have seen in the flesh and what was even more incredible than the sheer bulk of the fish was that it was caught on a 150lb handline and a $9 Halco Spoon! We have all heard the saying about all the gear but no idea, well after seeing a few of the fish that the locals from Wujal Wujal catch on handlines, I reckon that saying should be reversed no gear, all the idea!
There is an endless variety of lures and baits to target these horse sized Spaniards however as a general rule of thumb, I find it hard to get away from using 500mm long wolf herring slow trolled with a set of 9/0 ganged Tru-turns. Big baits can often mean big fish when it comes to the genuine trophy fish.
A long time local Cooktown fisho, Peter Kemp knows this more than anyone. He was fishing at Cape Bedford at sunrise on a July morning and was well on his way to getting his bag of spotted mackerel. He had a good sized spotty of around 100cm boat side and was about to sink the gaff when a Spaniard smashed it off his line, covering him with water before proceeding to give its best shot at spooling him on his lightish gear. Being on the wrong side of 70, Kempy eventually lost the fish after a 15 minute fight and still to this day calls it as a 100lb+ Spaniard.
The local rivers are fishing well for grunter, jack, fingermark and also plague proportions of decent sized golden trevally. Tom Nevins from Cooktown Barra Charters has been ensuring southern clients are going home with stretched arms after numerous charters chasing these goldens on 10lb braid. They go like stink when hooked on the flats in the Endeavour and Annan and are great fun in 4’ of water.
Lakefield has been fishing ok however the late opening date of the National Park and the cool, wet winter has seen it fish slower than previous years. As usual, live cherrabin and slowly fished timber lures have been accounting for most fish. Cooktown fisho Ben Stack nailed 3 good 800mm-plus barra from three casts, all falling for a deeply twitched black and gold coloured 110mm Prawn made by Twin River Lures. Now that’s good fishing!
• Once again, until next month stay safe on the water and be sure to jump onto Facebook and check out the timber barra lures I make called Twin River Lures.Reads: 691