Rain quells dry spell
  |  First Published: February 2015

The real first signs that the wet season was gradually taking a stranglehold in the tropics started in early January as we received substantial rainfalls, changing the landscape overnight.

Prior to this the Far North saw an unprecedented run of hot, dry and calm weather, which lasted for two months. By the end of this stretch everyone was hot and bothered and the fishing also reflected this as the rivers had shut down and the offshore reefs were often unproductive. However with a break in the weather, proceedings quickly turned around and catch rates across the board began to improve coinciding with the cooler change.

Over the past month the reef fishing has seen a lot of quality fish come back to the harbour docks including classic big red emperor, a smattering of large mouth nannygai, excellent size coral trout and an abundance of sizeable gold spot trevally. Other species to feature included Spanish mackerel to 10kg, hard fighting cobia and some brute reef mangrove jack. Numbers of fish remained consistent on most days, which is a bonus during the warmer months. Will this true form continue is anyone’s question.

The next month or so are traditionally more challenging and there will be more quiet days than red hot days. However, it all depends on the amount of rain and inclemency we receive over this turbulent period. Generally you’ll find that the quality of fish will be okay but not necessarily the quantity.

The light tackle scene gradually wound down with numbers of wahoo and mahimahi being caught on the edges of the continental shelf right till mid January and then quickly dried up. There were also several catches of sailfish in the same areas. For the more adventurous light tackle angler, heading even wider in search of yellowfin schools will be the only likely action to be seen in the short term and only if the conditions allow.

The rivers and creeks almost burnt out towards the end of the extremely hot run of weather with no bait to be found and catches were sparse, especially during the middle parts of the day. The upper reaches provided some action on smaller species while the lower reaches were mainly barren. However with a good dose of rain it was the right medicine to re-ignite our local rivers and estuaries into action. Following a decent downpour a day or so later, the mangrove jack came back on the bite and a few accidental barra catches were recorded in the lower reaches. Bait started to turn up and in turn mid-sized queenfish, trevally and tarpon also did. With the barra season due to re-open, moderate rainfalls will be the key to success without the flash flooding involved. As we all know we can’t control the rainfall but if things seem in tact the lower reaches and coastal mangroves and headlands should be where the bigger fish will be in waiting.

If things go according to plan the beach fishing can also be a productive place to fish, especially where the break through creeks occur. Along our beaches we have dozens of little creeks that lay dormant for most of the year and when the rains come the water forces through the sand dunes and spews out along the beach. With this flow comes new food and sustenance for all marine life, which include fish. Barra are well known to sit along the beaches in schools waiting for the creeks to release new life and bonus food. Surface lures work well, prawn imitation lures are a favourite and of course a live mullet or garfish is supreme.

Also along the beaches if we’ve had some decent rain it will bring on the prawns, which can be easily cast netted. Not only do they make for dynamite bait but also they are simply delicious to plate. Our local banana prawns that we catch along our beaches, albeit a bit smaller, are by far the tastiest you’ll ever have.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the wet season unfolds but if conditions can remain reasonable there’s still plenty to see and catch in the tropics.

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