Welcome flush out for Cooktown
  |  First Published: February 2016

February and March should provide plenty of rain for our region. So far this wet season, Cooktown and surrounding areas have already experienced some good rain, which has been a big relief for not only our waterways and fishing quality, but for our farmers who had been trying to turn over soil that had looked more like dry dust bowls settled on a scorched dry ground that was as hard as concrete.

It is this time of the year that we get to see the beef cattle turn from late dry season shrink wrapped skins on bones to fat and round beasts that look like Bowen mangoes on toothpicks.

The rivers’ banks and lagoons have already overflowed this wet season. This is like a double whammy of great news for our barramundi fishing enthusiasts because firstly, February means the opening of Queensland’s barramundi season, and secondly, the floods have allowed the barramundi to escape from their waterhole traps and move freely throughout the river system.

A lot of keen barra fishers have already lined up along the Cooktown wharf and nailed some good barra from around the pylons. The boaties will need to take a lot of care navigating in the river systems while they’re chasing barra, because a lot of driftwood (sometimes full grown trees) is flushed down the river system. More good news for our river fishers is that the floods also create new snags and fishing holes to explore.

Mudcrabs have also been flushed out of their holes from the excess freshwater and they tend to move down to the mouths of river systems or into the bays where there is more saltwater influence. You will be able to catch plenty of Mudcrabs around the first few kilometres of the river systems. Think carefully where you will place your pots because the driftwood and trees that flush through from the floods sometimes tangle with the rope and floats of your pots and drag them to unknown locations or snag them under debris that builds up.

The winds in Cooktown have been more non-existent or only a relieving slight breeze from the heat over the past month. As a result, our local reef anglers have been having an absolute blast out on the reefs. Most people are coming in much earlier than they had planned because they had already reached their bag limits.

Coral trout and large mouth nannygai seem to be most targeted due to their quality eating and no one is coming home without an icebox full of them. Simply find the bommies with bait for the trout and rubble patches for the nannygai. One of the great things about Cooktown is the sometimes extreme weather and wind conditions restrict boaties accessing the reefs that give the fish habitat good recovering times between fishing trips. As a result, great success is had for all anglers when we do get out to fish the big blue.

The mild winds will continue right through til the end of March, so there will be plenty more opportunities to get out and fish the reefs. Reef anglers also need to take care navigating at this time of the year because of the driftwood, sometimes as big as power poles, and may be just floating around in the sea. I have personally experienced hitting a very large tree that was fully submerged but still floating just under the surface while navigating at night in a boat, and it certainly can sink a boat. Thankfully for us, we were not going fast and it didn’t cause any damage.

If you’d like current information while you’re visiting Cooktown in the south Cape York or more information about a particular place in the region to fish, then go over to my Facebook page titled ‘Stacky’s Fishing Adventures’ and send me a message, or simply ‘Like’ the page for current updates.

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