The tide is high but the fish are holding on
  |  First Published: June 2016

The beginning of winter marks the onset of nasty cold weather around much of the country. But this is not the case in Queensland’s tropical far north. Despite the southerlies that sometimes plague this month, anglers can still expect cool mornings and warmth throughout the day.

Unlike the cooler areas further south, Cape York will maintain consistent barramundi fishing throughout June. This can taper off steeply heading into July and August, but many great sessions have come to fruition mid-morning in June with a steadily receding tide.

Those last few hours of a run-out tide can be particularly rewarding on the west coast of the Cape. Strange tidal streams create a very long run-in and run-out tide in the Gulf of Carpentaria. This may mean a tide which runs in or out for over 12 hours in the one direction.

The effects these tides have on the fishing are great and certain bite times can be predicted with a fair degree of accuracy. Experience has led me to believe that a hot estuary bite can usually be expected somewhere in the last third of the run-out tide.

Fish such as barramundi and mangrove jack are ambush predators that rely on a decrease in the amount of water available to target their prey. Drains, snag piles and other forms of structure that hold prey items suddenly get flushed out into open water as the tide drops. Predators hang on the verges, waiting for an easy feed.

When a hot bite is on, it sometimes feels like any presentation will get smashed. As anglers we need to capitalise on this scenario, because it might only last a matter of minutes. Dropping fish, making noise or being too transfixed on a single presentation are a couple of ways to shut down a hot bite.

For whatever reason, the fishing often slows at the bottom of the tide. Everything seems to go into a temporary hibernation. Fishers can be forgiven for wondering where everything suddenly went. This period can last a few hours until the tide begins to push in and things liven up again for a short burst.

As the tide begins to pick up steam on the run-in, all sorts of grazing, filtering and predatory fish become active. Once again the bite can be a little short lived, however many different species will get onboard over the duration of the run-in.

Queenfish, trevally, tarpon and blue salmon are examples of predatory fish that will fire up during the incoming tide, following schools of tiny baitfish as they make their way upstream into an estuary.

June is a fantastic month for variety, with a proliferation of tiny critters up the many creeks and rivers of the Cape making it a joy of a month to fish. From the large schools of tuna and small mackerel that infest the shallow bays of the Cape, to the large queenfish and golden trevally heading far upstream for the first time following the wet season, almost all fish species will be on offer during the right conditions. However, fishing on the reef and far-flung offshore locations can be limited due to strong winds hammering up the east coast. Finding a break in the trade winds can be potluck, but being prepared for early morning departures will count for a lot.

Find the clouds of bait on the surface and underneath with a sounder to locate the predatory fish we all search for during the first month of winter.

• For information on remote charter operations for tailored fishing adventures, please email Tim on --e-mail address hidden-- Reads: 1078

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