As highly suspected about the tropics, we have basically passed the winter months without a hint of traditional dry season patterns. Land and water temperatures remain well above average over this period, and the rainfall is usual. It has been a very pleasant time and the fishing has proved exceptional. Now we look forward to what is considered the most favourable time up north, for both pleasure and fishing opportunities.
As to be expected, the reef fishing has been the strongest performer over the last month or so with some power-house results coming back into the docks of Port Douglas. Quantity and quality are the norm, all our prized fish are fired to their full potential, and there has been a wide range of species on the bite.
Many times, coral trout have delivered in big numbers and sizes. They have easily been the most consistent fish for some time. Charter vessels have returned with excess of twenty or more trout at times, and the chiller has resembled a strawberry rainbow of big colourful fish. Of note, the smallmouth nannygai have returned to the area. They have become a staple catch as well. For a few years, they seemed to disappear off the face of the earth, but now we are glad to say they are in healthy numbers and around the 5kg range.
When these fish are on the bite, they become a guaranteed plentiful source to tap into. Charter vessels love them as their bread and butter species to ensure punters return home with the goods. Largemouth nannygai have been about, but remain in the shadows of the smallmouth nannygai and coral trout. In saying this, there are always a few thumping largemouth amongst the catch for the day. There’s a plethora of other species on the march and they have included the likes of cobia, red emperor, gold-spot trevally, sweetlip, Moses perch, stripies, baldy bream, venus tuskfish, cod species, red-throat emperor and spangled emperor. All add icing to the cake of trout and nannygai.
On the pelagic scene, the Spanish mackerel picked up some good momentum in recent times. They are quite prolific in our local waters. We have also just experienced a run of spotted and school mackerel, which suggests that we’ll see some good action on these fish for a while to come, both inshore and offshore.
Interestingly we have also seen a run of yellowfin tuna inside the reef, and the average size is around 10kg. They add another dimension to the sportfishing side of things. Small black marlin have been late starters this year, remembering they turned up in May last year. The wide grounds south of Port Douglas and the waters south of Fitzroy Island have a good population of these fish, and the Bluewater Billfish Tournament out of Fitzroy Island, later this month, has a reputation for producing high numbers of stallion marlin. I look forward to having a go myself this year, as catching them on light tackle gear is a whole heap of fun.
Our rivers and creeks never really shut down as they normally would, this dry season. Directly responsible, are the warmer than average water temperatures. Barra, mangrove jack and golden snapper have trickled along nicely and have been accompanied by some good action on the queenfish and trevally. Bream, grunter, sicklefish and flathead stay consistent.
With only warmer weather on its way, our local rivers and creeks will quickly return to peak performance! The mud crabbing in the local area has been very good this year with many handsome reports filtering through. Looking ahead, and with winter a faded memory already, fishing in the tropics will spike in the next month or so, and there will be heaps of opportunities to target a wide range of excellent fish. Where else would you rather be?
The smallmouth nannygai have been a welcome return to our local waters.Reads: 407