All round action in the tropics
  |  First Published: October 2015

October is arguably the best fishing month all round in the tropics. It is a crossover period where all manner of species are on the move, whether it be inshore or offshore.

A lot of focus is centred on the game fishing scene with the arrival of the big black marlin on the continental shelf to breed with the smaller blacks over a two-month period. As in the past the best action will occur up on the Ribbon Reefs for the first stage and this will filter further to the more southern reefs off Port Douglas and Cairns as we get closer to November. Some of the bites up at the Ribbon Reefs in recent years have been simply incredible with double figures being reached in a single daily session.

The small black marlin season finished off in brilliant fashion with a lot of fish being registered in the Cairns Bluewater Billfish Tournament. The hotspot was Oyster Reef on the edge of the shelf and this may see higher numbers of smaller blacks being racked up this year in the quest for the bigger models.

Also during September there were billfish registered up to 450lb on local grounds on the shelf, which is often the case with early arrivals looking for some pre-party action.

Game vessels arrive from all over the country for this annual quest and it certainly brings a lot of interest to the local fishing scene. Up and coming tournaments such as the Lizard Island Port Douglas Marlin Challenge will be closely monitored as to how the marlin season is tracking.

There’s also some brilliant light tackle game fishing to be enjoyed in the coming months on the same grounds. Yellowfin tuna, wahoo, mahimahi, sailfish and Spanish mackerel will be around in solid numbers and a combination of light tackle in the morning then heavy tackle fishing in the afternoon can result in a day you’ll never forget.

On the reef the fishing has been plotting along quite nicely. A lot of the reef species are now full of roe and will likely spawn during the first reef closure in the second week of October around the new moon. The fish may go into lockjaw mode leading into this period but will return to a super aggressive manner once the breeding process has passed.

Fish such as coral tout and to a degree nannygai will have a tendency to slow down before exploding back into action. However, so far it has been a real mixed bag of fish coming back to the docks with an even spread of different species being represented.

Naturally coral trout and nannygai have featured but there’s been good numbers of red emperor, Spanish mackerel, cobia, reef mangrove jack, gold-spot trevally, sweetlip and Moses perch amongst the daily hauls. Weather conditions have been mostly kind of late and it has been a delight to be fishing on the Great Barrier Reef in beautiful surrounds nailing some quality reef fish to take home.

With water temperatures on the rise our rivers and creeks have been gaining momentum with the prized barramundi turning up with more regularity. The mangrove jacks have been really aggressive and the highly sought after golden snapper are definitely up and about.

Trevally and queenfish have been moving in and out with the tides and there’s been a good supply of tarpon holding office on the deeper holes.

As the days get warmer low light periods and even after dark fishing sessions will be prime time for your barra, jacks and golden snapper.

Also, close to home our inshore reefs, wrecks and isolated patches are holding several mackerel species along with a good chance of trevally, which is good news for the small boat brigade looking for a bit of blue water action.

With so much on offer at this time of year there’s no better place to target such a range of fish including all your potential bucket list species, whether it be in the river, out on the reef or ploughing the game fishing grounds on the outer edge of the shelf.

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