During the months of March and April, the seasons really start to change in the Cooktown region. The temperatures will eventually cool (just a bit) which is much anticipated after frequent steamy days through February. As the temperature cools, the breezes begin to slowly increase from the average 10 knots to up to 20 knots or more. By the end of March or the start of April our wet season usually begins to dissipate, however it has been known to hang around a little longer at times.
This change in season will bring the first of the angler tourism to these parts. These visitors are usually serious barramundi fishers, with a convoy of vehicles, boats and boat trailers that are so well equipped for off-roading that you could easily mistake them for an army convoy once they are covered in red mud. These specialised fishers are clearly focused on being the first ones to cut and winch their way into certain locations to catch big run-off barra. Most of these adventurers head straight up the Peninsula Development Road to locations like Weipa, Old Mapoon or the Northern Peninsula Area and then disperse into the bush from there. Not many other communities or National Parks will have authorised access on their roads at this early stage after the wet.
The estuaries in the Cooktown region have been pumping out fresh water, which has been collected from the downpours in the upper catchment areas. The barra that were trapped in freshwater holes and lagoons have all made their way down to the estuaries with the floods showing them the way. These dirty water estuaries will fish best around the first few kilometres off the mouth or out around the headlands near the river mouths. For example, the Endeavour River, Cooktown’s wharf and snags up as far as Marton (including the Stonewall) all produce some nice barra. Threadfin fish well in the dirty water and are worth a try at this time of the year. For threadies, try around the flats near river mouths where they might be eating the baitfish that is flushed out.
It would be crazy not to throw a few crab pots in at this time of year too. Plenty of muddies are out and about, with regular reports of people reaching their bag limit of bucks while running their pots over a couple of days.
Reef fishing in the Cooktown region continues to dominate the local angling scene due to perfect weather for boating. Every shape and size of boat has been out on the reefs during the doldrums and they have all returned with iceboxes full of fish.
As usual, coral trout, large-mouth nannygai and Spanish mackerel are the common catches, and Cooktowners are spoilt for choice in these pristine waters. Other target species include golden snapper, which are closer to the headlands and usually found on a rubble bottom with a little structure around. A lot of locals made it out to the Ribbons during the perfect weather windows and have had great success catching fish that look like they come straight out of Jurassic Park. A lot of mahimahi were caught using Wogheads with garfish while trolling along the drop-off outside the Ribbons.
Lakefield National Park (LNP) will continue to be closed in March but if you’re a keen barra fisher like myself then watch my Facebook page – Stacky’s Fishing Adventures, or Cook Shire’s website as sometimes the south end of the park may open up early in April depending on the weather.
• 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: 492