It’s looking like being a late finish to the wet this year, so there is hopefully more rain to come this month. The start to the year has been particularly dry, so we certainly need more rain to really give the streams a solid flush out.
The lack of rain has kept the barra pretty quiet except in Trinity Inlet, which has been fishing pretty well. The dry weather has coincided with very hot conditions, which really pushed the water temperature up. This made the deep water in the Inlet particularly attractive to barra, and to those anglers who have figured out how to target the barra in the deep water. Live baits and soft vibes have accounted for most of the Inlet barra. The best investment you can make is to spend time spent looking for fish sitting on deep structure.
It’s a bit early to expect any significant drop in water temperature, so the tropical trophy trio of barra, jacks and golden snapper will continue to offer estuary and inshore anglers plenty to get excited about this month.
The headlands have continued to give up the odd quality barra for those prepared to put in the time, early and late. The best results have been at first and last light, when the water has been just a little off being clear and there is bait in the vicinity. When the water has been crystal clear or too murky the barra have been hard to come by.
Mangrove jack continued to bite through the hot weather and will remain active through April and, for some time, when the cooler weather arrives. Jacks have been taken using a wide range of techniques, with plenty being caught when targeting barra. The odd trophy jack to 50cm will really test your gear, so make sure you are rigged to handle them that big. Small to medium giant trevally will also be gate crashing the barra fishing this month, along with the odd quality golden trevally. If you hook one of these brutes when flicking lures for jacks and barra you are in for one hell of a battle. They are one of the toughest fighters pound for pound, and unlike barra they don’t give up without letting your arms and fingers know they have been in a serious scrap.
Golden snapper have been taken in deep sections of the Cairns Inlet and around the headlands and inshore islands, reefs and wrecks. Live squid has been the best bait, as they have been fairly plentiful. If you can’t nail a few live squid then live sardines, mud herring, mullet or prawns are the next best bet. Working deep structure with soft vibes, prawn imitations, jerk shads and paddle tail soft plastics is another very productive and exciting way to chase golden snapper. It’s sudden death right from the initial bulldozing run, and it often ends in victory to the fish. Quality gear, braid upwards of 30lb and fluorocarbon leader from 40lb up will see you in with a fighting chance.
Bait fishers will find a few grunter on the hospital flats and on the shale and rubble patches in Cains Inlet, especially on the 3m+ high tides in the lead-up to and after the new moon on the 7th. The tides aren’t near that big on the full moon but it will still be worth another look around the full moon if they show up on the big new moon tides.
The reef fishing has been hit-and-miss of late. Some anglers have been hitting the jackpot, while many others have struggled for a feed. Bottom fishing the reef should continue to improve as the water temperatures decline, with red fishing only getting better as temperatures drop. You probably won’t land big numbers of large-mouth nannygai and red emperor this month, but you may well get the odd quality fish to really light up the esky.
With the cooling weather the trout should become more common in the shallows, after spending the summer in cooler, deeper water. Sharks have continued to haunt anglers, and it’s a rare trip that doesn’t see more fish lost to the grey suits than landed.
Spanish mackerel will continue to appear here and there at the reef, with a couple taken on most trips on a floating pilchards or live bait. The odd cobia may give anglers are real work over, and just because most of your bottom fish have fallen to sharks you shouldn’t assume that bull-headed, dark shape is yet another one. Have a good look at anything that takes a floating pilchard or live bait before putting on the hurt and busting it off.
On the subject of hurt, for those who enjoy a bit of pain with their fishing, there will be plenty of monster giant trevally patrolling the reef edges, drop-offs, current lines and pressure points. Poppers worked at a frantic pace are one the best ways to increase the heart rate even further, with explosions all around the lure before it’s finally engulfed and the real work begins. Brutes in excess of 30kg will be lurking for those with enough energy, fitness and a touch of masochism to take on the fight.
The more laid-back anglers will be able to add prawns to the menu if there is enough rain to flush them out of the creeks. If there is plenty of fresh, mud crabs will also be on the move, so it won’t be all hard slog this month.Reads: 426