Fingermark still biting well
  |  First Published: September 2015

The past month still had patches of that unsettled weather which had plagued the north coast all winter. We had only a couple of reasonable periods which allowed offshore anglers to get out wider and get into some good fishing.

The closer reefs have had mixed results but the wider reefs have been fishing well, with plenty of trout coming from the shallows. There were a few reports of red emperor from those anglers braving the cold nights out wide, but there has been a lack of large-mouth nannygai reports this year. Maybe the few smaller weather windows just haven’t allowed enough angling time to find the nannies.

Spaniards had a pretty good start to the winter but the numbers have slowed up inshore in recent weeks. Most fish inshore have been quality fish over 15kg. In the shipping lane there have been a few reports of smaller Spaniards harassing the light tackle marlin anglers, and no wonder with the amount of baitfish out there. I was out there filming for our wonky hole course recently and saw some impressive schools of yakkas and herring. The area came alive and the sounder showed some good sized predators hanging off the bait schools but unfortunately I didn’t take any of our game fishing gear with us, missing out on a great opportunity to have a crack at a few marlin. I definitely won’t forget to take it next time I’m out there.

With the barra being very scetchy through August, the most attention has been focused on fingermark (golden snapper) for many anglers. I did only a handful of charters in August as we went on holidays, but when we did go out we saw some good-sized fingermark. They finally arrived in good numbers after being over a month late this year. Most have been around 45-55cm, but some 60-70cm specimens were in amongst them, making for some great sessions. You’re better off looking in deeper water over the next couple of months until the water warms; most will move out to the headlands again after that. Soft vibes and live herring are usually the best techniques when targeting them.

During September the pelagics could fire up again as it’s still a good month for them, but right now it’s anyone’s guess as to what the Spaniards and billfish will do. The upcoming tournaments should be a good indicator. Fingers crossed we’ll get some great September weather and a reward for anglers who had to put up with some very ordinary conditions this winter.

Grunter are one of the most popular fish targeted by visiting anglers, and we could well see the large oceanic grunter start to show around mid-month. An indicator that they are around is when you start catching catfish and small sharks. They all seem to arrive together.

Fingermark will continue to bite well and the barra should make an appearance with the water slowly warming. By the end of September, providing we don’t have any late cold snaps, barra anglers should see a return to some good sessions in the shallows. Lure fishers should look to the drains when the water is falling out. Most gutters will each have a particular time that they will fire, depending on the size of the gutter and where it drains in relation to other current collisions.

If you struggle to catch barra consistently, maybe you aren’t sure exactly where and when to fish, or perhaps you get them one day but not the next and aren’t sure why. I can help. Our online barra fishing masterclass ‘Barra Basics’ kicks off again on the 1 September. Our students have been kicking goals, with two students catching 13 over a metre since they started the course. Six other students have joined the metre club, and the most barra in one session was 32 by another student. The biggest barra has been 131cm. To check it out go to www.barrabasics.com .

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