Brushing off the winter fish
  |  First Published: October 2016

The fishing has seen its fair share of fluctuations. Constant weather changes have been the catalyst for that. One day, it’s stinking hot, the next its cool again. It’s a wonder there’s no consistency in the fishing. One species showed up earlier than usual – the ‘fingermark’, or golden snapper. Traditionally, November is the best month for them to aggregate. They’ve done so earlier, but not in massive schools just yet. Some fish have been as big as 70cm.

Barra have been very finicky with the slightest change in weather sending them down. As you get into a number of dry years, not only does recruitment drop, but the fish are always harder to get a bite from during that winter. It will still take a couple of years of good rains before we reap any rewards.

It’s about the time the Spaniards are at their most aggregated on the outer islands and inner reefs. If there’s been one very consistent species this year, it’s them. People are reporting paddocks of them around Britomart Reef. They’re even described as pests by gamefishers. It’s great to see such a good season for them. They’ll spawn around the dark moon in October on the inner reefs, and many will start to wander south after that.

Billfish have been a struggle this year, which is a bit strange considering the spawning success of the Spaniards. Quite often they go hand in hand, with spawning success on yearly levels. Many of the light tackle competitions have been well below par. I hope the heavy tackle season is better than the light tackle. Time will tell as we approach that period soon.

Deep sea fishing has been good for those braving the conditions we’ve had, especially early in the month. As usual, if you can get out to the reef when it’s rough, the fishing is usually pretty good. Calm hot days are when fish can get lockjaw. Most reports have been of good trout and red emperor, on the deeper shoals off the reefs. Nice spangled emperor and tuskies are in the shallows. Red throat emperor have not made a big show this year, which is strange. They seem to be more unpredictable than other species, when it comes to understanding their sustainability.

This month, I expect to see barra fire up and get out of this lazy winter mood. It’s our last month of the year to have a crack for them before the season closes on 1 November. It may not be as good an ending to the season as last year, but I’m sure we’ll see some periods of brilliance. The waterways will still fill up with boats as usual, but it’s a pretty big area up here. There’s plenty of room for everyone. If you like casting at drains, it pays to be at your spots early, so someone else don’t work it over before you.

I’m expecting a big appearance from golden snapper this month, and also the arrival of the big metre plus threadfin. It’s always exciting when they come on. In short, anglers should brush off their tackle and get out there. October is one of the prime months for many styles of fishing. You can check out our new site www.fishsmarter.com.au and join the free forum. We also have great free content and our premium courses, with more courses to come this year.


We should see a good return of golden snapper populations during October.


Threadfin are on the to-do list this month.

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