November marks many changes in the Cooktown region. Barramundi are spawning at river mouths and headlands, crocodiles are fighting over territory and building nests and most pelagic species and coral fin fish continue their spawning run on the reefs.
November also marks the beginning of our cyclone season. The clouds are already building into storm cells as the weather really begins to heat up. November sees the last of our seasonal visitors pack up and head south for cooler climates. However, our diehards who stick around, really know that these seasonal changes mark the beginning of some awesome summer fishing.
The seemingly relentless ‘Cooktown breeze’ has only allowed a few opportunities to get out on the reefs over the last month. However, the reports have seen some quality size fish being caught. Very big large mouth nannygai catches are coming in at this stage and they will continue to be caught in December. You have get out into the paddock away from reef structures and get lucky by finding a ‘bump’ or a ‘wonky hole’ on a flat sea floor if you want to catch these big red monsters. A good way to do this is study the bottom closely with a quality sounder while trying to troll up a black marlin or other pelagics.
One of our local commercial fishers stated that there were hundreds of juvenile black marlin swimming around in our shipping channel straight out the front at the moment. These fish are a bucket load of fun to catch in small boats on light gear. Russel (from Cooktown Lure Shop) and his wife Monique caught two black marlin and dropped a third in one outing.
The Spanish mackerel catches seem to be a little down compared to last year, so you may take a little longer to reach your quota for these fish. Other quality size fish being caught this month and will continue to be caught next month are reef jacks and spangled emperor and coral trout. Don’t forget we have one more round of coral reef fin fish closures from November 9-13.
The estuaries in the Cooktown region have been producing some quality fish too. The Endeavour River has produced quality barramundi and mangrove jacks on a daily basis. Most catches have come from the Wharf, Marton boat ramp, the Stone Wall and up the North Arm of the Endeavour.
November is the closed season for barramundi but plenty of opportunities will be had catching these fish again in February once the season reopens. Remember, if you accidently catch a barramundi while fishing for other species then it must be returned to the water straight away, do not even stop for a photo because you can be prosecuted.
The mangrove jack and estuary cod are responding really well for those who like sight casting lures into snags or trolling. Live and dead baits sunk down into some snags is also an effective way to catch these fish. If you head down near the mouth you can try for trevally, queenfish and mackerel while trolling lures or floating a dead or live bait. The Bloomfield, Annan and McIvor Rivers will also be effective using the same techniques listed above.
Lakefield National Park (LNP) fishing over October was a very hard bite to predict. On one day we would catch and release bucket loads of juvenile barra with the occasional quality fish up to 800mm, however, we could fish the exact same places the next week and see the barra swimming at our feet without raising a bite. On one occasion, there were four of us peppering the water to a froth using a mass variety of different lures while sighting some legal sized barra, but they showed no interest. We bounced lures off their noses but they just backed away from them. I can’t explain how frustrating it was to see barra sitting on a snag and not respond to anything we tried. We kept changing to other locations and having the same result. But hey, that’s fishing.
If you’d like any current information while you’re visiting Cooktown’s region or more information about a particular place in the neighbourhood to fish, then simply ‘like’ my FaceBook page titled ‘Stacky’s Fishing Adventures’ or send me a message.Reads: 529