Waiting out the sweltering conditions
  |  First Published: January 2016

As we enter into a new calendar year it is interesting to look at the final stages of 2015 to give us some idea of what the month of January will hold.

Firstly, I’ll touch on the game fishing season that ended on an absolute high for the big black marlin. After a very sluggish start in October, the warmer currents finally arrived late in the month and the fishing from Linden Bank up to the Ribbon Reefs went gangbusters. Monster fish around the 1000lb mark and better became regular catches and right across the board billfish catches were impressive.

The best run came from one of our local charter boats Amokura, which tagged 24 black marlin over 10 days with 4 fish exceeding 1000lb. This strike rate remained consistent right through until the middle of December.

Also out on the marlin grounds were a plethora of light tackle game fish including mahimahi, wahoo, Spanish mackerel and yellowfin tuna. This style of fishing is what is expected to keep going well into January with the odd black and blue marlin still cruising around. Catching a sailfish on the outer edge of the reef is also definitely on the cards.

Some operations will take their extended trips way off the shelf in the hunt for the yellowfin tuna aggregations and the blue marlin are normally part of the equation.

On the outer reef the bottom fishing from the end of November started to slow right down as water temperatures started to peak. It has since been about the quality and not quantity of fish that are coming back to the docks. The better days are seeing good-sized coral and bar-cheek trout, sizeable large mouth nannygai and a lot of trevally including gold spot and tea-leaf varieties. Naturally, there’s been quite a few staple fish such as sweetlip, stripies and cod amongst the catches along with the odd big rogue Spanish mackerel at times.

A common trend has been a hot bite around the turn of the tide with bits and pieces caught around this stage of the tide. Much can be expected for the coming month and generally speaking the weather is pretty stable with nice warm, calm conditions experienced.

There’s no doubt the river and creek scene has been a very hot place to wet a line in the middle of the day and consequently, catches are slow during these parts of the day. The low light periods in the early morning and late evening are attracting better activity with barra, mangrove jack, golden snapper, trevally and estuary cod being on the move.

Live bait in the form of mullet and sardines is a little scarce but become the prime bait if you can source them. There is also a good healthy supply of tarpon in a few of our systems mulling around the deeper holes and they are offering plenty of action using small shallow diving and surface lures as well as soft plastics. 

January traditionally sees a healthy number of tourists around for the first couple of weeks before proceedings slowly wind down for the onset of the wet season or ‘down time’ as we call it. The bureau is forecasting a relatively drier wet season this year with not so much cyclone activity in the Coral Sea. That maybe all well and good but we are in the tropics and anything is possible.

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