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Bag a barra before closed season!
  |  First Published: October 2016



The warming offshore waters of the Eastern Cape will be supercharging those outer reefs between Cooktown and Cape Melville. Every year, this area plays home to some of the best big marlin fishing on the planet. Granders are the game and any marlin that gets close to this mythical 1000lb mark goes down in the annals of game fishing folklore.

Certain boats, certain crews and individual captains seem to account for more than their fair share of large fish each year. There is no substitute for experience and well-drilled crews with an intimate knowledge of where and when the big fish show have the best chance.

Luck plays a big part in all of this and the science is filled with questionable tangents such as engine pitch, music playing and lucky charms!

Reports have already circulated around some big fish captured at the very beginning of the heavy tackle season, so fingers crossed for all concerned that this trend continues over coming months. For those heading up to the Ribbon Reefs, Lizard Island and other far-flung spots on the Barrier Reef, plenty of other options exist asides from heavy tackle. Giant GTs on poppers, good numbers of Spanish and shark mackerel, massive barracuda, yellowfin tuna, dogtooth tuna and wahoo are all possibilities on the reef edges and shoals.

Anglers will need to be aware of some closures coming up late in the month, including a Coral Reef Fin Fish Closure from 28 October until 1 November. On the East Coast, barramundi can be caught all month, however the Gulf of Carpentaria closure begins on 7 October, continuing on until February 2017.

With this in mind, many anglers will be targeting barra and the warm weather of October should see them well and truly on the chew right around the Cape. Generally speaking, the fishing will begin to fire up in the lower reaches of most creeks and rivers. The large bays that punctuate the Gulf Coast will also begin fishing well, with fish sneaking right up into the shallow margins on the higher tides.

Large schools or mullet, garfish, sardines and prawns will swim along these shallow margins, in and out of the mangrove forests and provide an endless source of fodder for mangrove jack and barra lurking in the indentations.

Trying to fish the turn of the top of the tide and the first hour or two of the run-out as the water level drops off the sticks can produce amazing fishing.

If you can find a good-sized drain or tiny creek running out into one of these bays, it will be the front portion most likely to hold predators. When the late afternoon light begins to fade and water is emptying out of these drains, try casting poppers, fizzers and walk-the-dog style lures across the current and look for swirls and ‘boofs’ behind your lure. This can be frustrating fishing when repeated boofs fail to hook-up, but when things come tight and a barra leaps high on the strike, it all seems worthwhile.

Whatever your style of fishing, October will have plentiful options. Light to variable breezes can be expected and fly anglers will be licking their lips to tackle the endless flats of the west coast. Permit, golden trevally, giant herring, tarpon and blue salmon will keep these guys interested over coming months. Warm weather and springtime signal great fishing, so get out and amongst it.

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