Shake off the winter slumber
  |  First Published: September 2015

September is a unique month in Cape York – perfect temperatures with cool mornings and just a whisper of breeze. The barra fishing can really begin to fire after the fish shake off their winter slumber.

Neap tides this time of year can see fish spread out throughout the creeks and rivers of the Cape, giving increased opportunities to anglers willing to break from the traditional mould of throwing lures at snags all day long.

Fishing plastics, vibes and shallow divers out wide of the bank is an interesting technique that most anglers simply speed by, leaving some very fishy spots in their wake. Look for pockets of water anywhere up to 50m out from the bank where the main river systems empty water. Large drains or shallow bays that intersect these draining river systems form almost invisible junctions that hold fish.

Grunter, barramundi, queenfish, blue salmon, black jew and others will patrol the edges of these current lines, using invisible structure formed by the wavering tide to find holding patterns. Troll wide of the bank along depth lines, contour lines, and reef edges.

September seems to be a month where a steady procession of fish must be earned. Expect fish this time of year to be finding their favourite dry season hangout. The next three months tend to be pretty steady and stable in the far north. Lovely mornings with the odd magic-mirror day where every ripple from every fish can be seen from every direction.

The offshore brigade will have their engines well and truly primed for September. Planning to fish this patch or that shoal or those rocks or the wreck or whatever structure might be holding fish. Billfish will be coaxed from many the deck of an experienced game boat this time of year. Cairns, Lizard Island, and the Ribbon Reefs will begin to hot up with billfish action.

Those in the Gulf who love getting out to rubble ground and reef patches to chase nannygai, golden snapper and all manner of reef dwellers will use early mornings to fish productively up until about 11am. By this time, the breeze may have kicked in and the bite has begun to slow. There will always be a chance of a mid to late afternoon hot bite but by this stage conditions may be less than ideal.

Soft plastics, metal slices and jigs can be used as successful cast and retrieve methods to entice fish out over shallow Gulf of Carpentaria reefs. Look for areas where a little bit of current is moving against structure to begin casting. Taking drifts past likely areas before returning to anchor in the more likely spots is productive.

Look for clouds of baitfish near the surface and pick off fish hanging wide of those. Grey mackerel, Spanish mackerel, giant trevally, queenfish, cobia, giant herring and a host of other tropical brutes might be close by.

Trolling medium and deep diving lures can be a rod-bending extravaganza if you are getting lures within the bottom 3ft of water. Trolling 12ft, 15ft, 20ft divers in all sorts of shapes and sizes over shallow reef about 30ft behind the boat. Often you will feel the lures bump over structure before being walloped by fish sitting in a depression.

Those fishing over deeper shoals off the East Coast will be using neap tides to get offerings deep enough to entice fish. There is something magical about bait wafting down over a patch of reef, glaring eyes affixed from below.

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