Quality reefies hitting the decks
  |  First Published: February 2016

The Far North experienced a more traditional start to the wet season, with a low pressure system dumping copious amounts of rain on the region over the Christmas and New Year period. In fact, over 300mm was recorded in a 24-hour period on several occasions in certain locations, in particular the Daintree catchment area.

Naturally, this impacted some of our major river systems temporarily, forcing them into flood and shutting them down.

It even had an effect on the inshore and outer reefs. Often after a big wet such as this, freshwater can be visibly seen up to 10 miles offshore, however in this instance it reached some 18 miles offshore onto the reef, where the water was bottle green in colour. Basically, this made the fishing extremely tough no matter where you wet a line.

Moving into the New Year the rain eased with only localised rain cells dumping heavy rain over a short period and our waterways slowly returned to some normality. This deluge of rain, however, was the perfect calling sign for the barramundi to complete their yearly breeding cycle, releasing eggs along the coastline with the aid of the heavy rains.

It also released a chain of food in the form of baitfish and prawns, which will feed the hungry mouths of many fish for weeks to come. The headland, river mouth and beach fishing should offer some solid activity with an abundance of food available.

On the outer reef, once the rains subsided at the start of January, the fishing improved considerably overall. Reef fishing can be tough in the warmest months but the catch rates were above average for this time of year. Coral trout were up and about, the large -mouth nannygai turned up with regularity and there was an abundance of other species putting a bend in the rod.

Gold-spot trevally, Moses perch, cobia, sweetlip, reef mangrove jack and a variety of emperor species were never far away. Even the Spanish mackerel were found on the deep pinnacles in reasonable numbers. Sometimes you just never know what will unfold when you are out on the reef, as Dragon Lady Charters experienced recently. They picked up a few mackerel on the float in quick succession but the bottom was fishing really slow. Out of the blue a 50kg sailfish inhaled the live fusilier bait and all mayhem broke loose. Chasing down 300m of line, they eventually caught the speedster – a catch you’d never expect while bottom fishing.

On the surface out wide there are playing fields of mac tuna and bonito around. They feed on tiny bait fry as a result of the big rains. Tiny metal lures cast and retrieved among a feeding school and a bit of persistence will see you hook into this surface activity.

When the northerlies blow the fishing becomes tougher offshore and anchoring on marks was tough work. The wind and the current were going in opposite directions and where your line ended up on the bottom of the reef was a bit of guesswork at best. If the northerlies have a bit of strength about them you might as well stay home as the fish seem to go into lockjaw mode.

With opening of the barra season upon us, the rivers and creeks attract a bit of focus. News is that the barra have been up around the river and creek mouths after the rains and according to sources, they have been active after dark for those using live baits.

The mangrove jack are always around in numbers at this time of year and golden snapper (fingermark) in the deeper holes and snags came back on the bite when the water clarity improved.

Moving forward, it is going to depend what sort of wet season we receive. A bit of rain here and there always keeps our systems in a lively mood, whereas no rain or too much rain can have the opposite effect.

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