The seasons certainly changed in a hurry this year! We still had 22.5°C in the water halfway through October thanks to strong winds and coolish conditions. The end of October hit us hard with some very hot weather, and getting used to the sudden change of conditions was a little hard to take. So much for it slowly warming up.
November was an awesome month for golden snapper (fingermark), in fact one of the best I have seen for a while with some very good-sized fish around the 70-75cm mark. The average size has also increased from last year. We have caught all these fish during the day despite the fact that many people believe golden snapper go better at night. They certainly do go well at night, but when you can achieve similar results during the day you don’t really need to go at night. Still, night fishing will always remain popular for the species because its more comfortable than sitting out in the stinking hot sun, plus you have the added bonus of big grunter and black jew showing up as by-catch.
I have also noticed that the golden snapper are reluctant to take soft vibes but they will scoff down big greenback herring no worries at all. Recent years have seen the species very active on soft vibes and I don’t really know what it is that they are shying away from. Just as well we have plenty of herring on tap here at Hinchinbrook.
With the barra season closed, some anglers are turning their attention to big golden grunter that are starting their summertime run. At certain times of the month they come into the channel and then disappear back out to the deeper inshore headlands and islands. They are a very good tablefish, and many people would say they’re much better to eat than barra. They are a great fish to entertain the kids with, and sometimes it’s as simple as finding some rubble bottom and dropping down some squid on a running rig with a 5/0 hook. A live greenback herring is another good bait for them, and once again you should use it on the running rig.
There haven’t been too many reports coming in from the reef, but the few reports I have heard have all been positive. Deep water off Kennedy Shoals has seen some really large nannygai. The area has rested very well this year with the constant bad weather, and it’s great to see it fishing well. The wonky holes (underwater springs) that are further inshore have all been rather quiet, as they are not running at the moment. When they stop running the fish move further out wide into deeper waters, and that’s possibly why there has been good red fishing around the reefs.
Here’s hoping for a good wet season, although I’m not holding my breath. Northern Australia badly needs it and floodwaters can make the fishery thrive or, like in recent years, starve during drought. Many species depend on flooding rains to breed, and unfortunately many fisheries suffer in dry years as the catch effort overtakes the reduced stock replenishment.
In December I recommend fingermark fishing for sure. They are actively feeding, and the next couple of months are a great time for them.
December also brings the tripletail inshore. They can often be seen around the Cardwell jetty and some of the beacons. They sure are an ugly fish, but they fight like crazy and good on the table. They also take hardbody lures so if you run across a tripletail, pull out one of your shallow divers meant for barra fishing. It’s my favourite technique for them as they fall for it every time.
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