Glamour days for stable catches
  |  First Published: September 2016

It was late coming, but we saw a traditional winter pattern come through in August, with the trademark southeasterly winds. In between persistent gusts, we experienced glamour days on the water. This is when the fishing reports went gangbusters.

This was evident on the reef, particularly the days around the new moon, when the weather was superb. Fish clambered all over any bait or presentation. There hasn’t been one dominant species on the go, but an even spread of species – a colourful rainbow of fish at the end of the day. Nevertheless, if you had one species at the top of the table, it would have to be coral trout, which have proven to be the most consistent fish this year. They’re the staple catch, their numbers and sizes have been great.

Recently, we’ve had an increase in the emperor family coming over the side, including red, spangled and long-nosed species. They featured consistently on most trips for many anglers. Nannygai, small- and large-mouth, have taken a back seat and have been patchy.

There are heaps of trevally around, and some big golden trevally, which put a decent buckle in the rod. They’ve been found feeding among the emperor species, searching the reef floor for crustaceans and the like. In deeper waters, they’ve been hordes of gold spot and bludger trevally. They always create chaos on any deck. As mentioned, there’s an array of other species on the chew. Some of the low-profile species include Venus tuskfish, sweetlip, stripies, cod species, Maori bream, barramundi cod and grassy sweetlip.

It’s been a brilliant period for catching cobia or black kingfish. They’ve been found right through the water column, where they feed off the bottom and readily eat floating rigs at the back of the boat. These roaming nomads of the sea have done better than Spanish mackerel, which remained relatively consistent without being sourced in huge numbers. Overall, reef fishing has been really positive. We can expect similar results this month.

The inshore scene has been quieter, but has had great angling moments during its toughest months. Javelin fish or grunter have been at the forefront along most coastal systems. Some monsters around the 70cm mark come from the Daintree River system, just a bit further north. There’s been a supply of mid-sized queenfish and smaller trevally coming through with incoming tides, in the rivers, creeks and estuaries. The odd big ‘queenie’ can be found in the bigger river systems.

Mangrove jack have offered some excitement, deep in the heavy snags. Flathead and bream feed on the slopes of banks. The barra have been around despite the cooler time of year, but a bit of effort has been required for their attention. The warmer sections of water with structure, and direct sunlight, have been the better locations. Barra numbers are improving, as temperatures rise. Water temperatures are above average this year so their optimum time is not far away. With a bit of rain around in the tropics, we have a steady bait supply. Barra won’t be far behind, particularly in the lower sections of any waterway.

On the game scene, we’ve had a slow start to the small black marlin season. As we speak, they’re starting to turn up on certain grounds south of Fitzroy Island, and south of Port Douglas on the wide grounds. Finding a good supply of bait on the sounder has been the key to success. Small black marlin will keep on following and feeding on them to fill their healthy appetite, as they mature. Expect this style of fishing to flourish in the coming month.

There’s plenty to look forward to during September, and traditionally it’s considered to be the pick of the calendar months. The bulk of the fish inshore and offshore are actively feeding.


Golden trevally featured heavily on the outer reef systems, as Mitch from Dragon Lady displays.

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