July is a magical time in Cooktown and Cape York. The nights are cool, the stars are bright, the roads are dry and you’re guaranteed it won’t rain when you go camping. Over the next few months, the local contingent head bush – away from the bustle at every available chance. Some may head into the rainforests to chase jungle perch; others may head for the rainforest beaches and fish the creek mouths for saltwater species. The drier bushlands out west for freshwater barra is an attractive option or maybe right up into Princess Charlotte Bay where the great saltwater grounds are protected from the trade winds. However divided they are on location, they all agree that now is a magical time of the year to get out and explore the countryside.
The Cooktown trade winds are in full swing. This is why most choose to head bush or upriver at this time of year. However, watch the weather reports closely, as on occasions the winds drop out below 10 knots. If you’re in the area, make the most of it because it may be a while before it happens again. The winds dropped out a few weeks ago aligning perfectly with the weekend. The boat ramp was packed with cars and trailers lined half way up the main drag of town. Everyone had a successful fishing trip that weekend!
Keep in mind that your boating and fishing gear is sitting around unused a little longer at this time of year. Therefore, make the most of the windy weather and service your gear. Do the lot – fishing gear, trailers, boats and motors because it will definitely pay off now rather than having problems later when the winds have dropped and you want to go out fishing.
The Endeavour will have clear water conditions for the first few miles. Try chasing surface predators on the incoming tide when it’s nearly full. Trolling a popper or shiny shallow diver is best at this time. You may catch queenies and trevally or a mackerel around the leads. Upriver is best for barra in July, go deep where they may be lazily hiding around snags, or if they’re feeding get up on the flats where it is warmer.
Annan, Bloomfield and McIvor rivers will all be much the same for fishing strategies as the Endeavour River system at this time of year. A couple of readers came up from Townsville and Rockhampton last month. They messaged me for some local tips and followed this up by hooking into some awesome fish. Golden snapper, queenies, trevally and big barra were all on their catch list. Thankfully they let the big girls go as they promised but complained that they couldn’t find any smaller barra to keep. What a tough fishing trip! I should’ve gone with them.
The bottom section of Lakefield National Park (LNP) had opened, closed and now re-opened again due to some late seasonal rain. At the time this mag goes to the shelf, I would imagine the top end of the park would be open too (or very close to opening if it isn’t). Our last trip found the barra quite uncooperative, but they were mostly down deep and not of great size. We always let the freshwater barra go, simply because we’re spoilt for choice up here. Fishing conditions will have changed from our last trip in the LNP because we had some late season rain and the fish may have moved around a bit more.
There is much to see and do in Cape York at this time of year. Jump on my Facebook page to find out more if you’re planning a trip up here this dry season.
• 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, Stacky’s Fishing Adventures or send me a message.Reads: 735