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Fishing should hot up with the weather
  |  First Published: October 2016



October typically involves a continuation of extended periods of calm seas and increasing temperatures, interspersed with the odd southeast blast and occasional storm. The fishing is usually hotting up, along with the weather. Warming water temperatures stir up barra, jacks and golden snapper in the estuaries and the trout, red emperor and large-mouth nannygai at the reef.

Early indications show it’s shaping up to be a cracker coral trout season, with plenty of boats hitting or pushing their bag limits. As temperatures continue to climb, the fishing will tend to become patchier, with cracker fish some days and anglers scratching for some action on others.

The reef will continue to be the main attraction for many anglers, whenever the winds allow. Trout will be moving into the shallow waters, as spawning is expected to coincide with the Coral Reef Fin Fish Closure, from 28 October to 1 November. Trout seemed to roe up early this year, with many reports coming through in early September of fully roed up fish. There’s a good chance that many trout have already spawned on the lead up to the new moon on 1 October.

Over the past three years, coral trout have been the main player at the reef, followed by large-mouth nannygai. Red emperor have put in a sporadic showing, as have red bass, spangled emperor and Moses perch. What the red emperors lack in numbers has been made up for with size, with common fish over 8kgs. Some days in recent years have seen the numbers match the size – boats return to harbour with good numbers of both red emperor and large-mouth nannygai in the 8-10kg mark. There have been other days dominated by grey, and not the usual men in grey suits ­­– painted sweetlips (slatey bream), trevally of all shapes and sizes and Spanish mackerel.

Spaniards will continue to be around but not usually in big numbers. It will still pay to have a floating pilchard, gar, mullet or wolf herring out the back. Live baits will take you one step further up the production line. Live fusilier, hussar, mullet, small trevally or any small reef fish of legal size will increase your chances of tangling with a silver bullet.

The heavy tackle season should be in full swing, with mostly the well healed getting into the action. There are still a few small boat owners who chase the big bills, but on the whole, heavy tackle season is for those with heavy bank balances. All the hype focuses on the ‘Grander’ 1000lb+, but the reality is they’re about as common as a barra over 120cm. For the light tackle brigade, yellowfin tuna and Spanish mackerel will be on the cards.

Inshore fishing should be worth a look, with school mackerel still on the agenda, and serious golden snapper patrolling the wrecks, reefs and rock headlands. If the bait schools are around, then northern bluefin tuna will be into the action, along with a few Spanish mackerel. Look for the birds to point you in the right direction.

This is the last month to nail a barra before the three month closure and they’ve been more plentiful than usual. Anecdotal evidence indicates the Cairns net free zone, which runs from False Cape Taylors Point, is having a positive impact on fishing in the area. Trinity Inlet has fished significantly better all year and the surrounding beaches have also seen increased numbers of barra and salmon, both king and blue. Trinity Inlet has consistently produced more barra and golden snapper than in the past 20 years that I’ve called Cairns home. Here’s hoping that this month will see the barra and golden snapper action continue to rise with the water temperature.

Mangrove jack are not as net vulnerable and have not been so heavily impacted by netting in the past, but they also seem to be around in better numbers. Mid-sized giant trevally and the odd monster queenfish will be patrolling the drop-offs, sand bars and deep holes, if the salinity stays high. The odd lucky angler will get to tangle with a monster golden trevally, which will also be patrolling the estuaries this month. If you hook into one of these gold medal fighters you are in for a battle!

October should see a significant increase in the presence of salmon, both king and blue, particularly this year. The removal of the nets should have a significant impact on this highly net-targeted species. The Cairns northern beaches should be the area where their increased numbers will be most noticeable, especially with the arrival of the northeasterlies. Holloways and Machans beaches will be well worth a look for salmon on the big new and full moon tides at the start, middle and end of the month, especially if they coincide with northeasterly winds.

There is a relatively rare astronomical event this month, with two new moons occurring in October. There will be one new moon on the 1 October and a second on the 31 October. In some branches of Paganism, particularly Wiccans, this is significant. The second new moon is called the black moon and any magic worked during that period is deemed to be especially powerful. Let’s hope the fishing takes on some magic this month!

1

There should be some serious golden snapper patrolling the wrecks, reefs and rock headlands.

2

Red bass like this one caught by Ben Fielding are around to add variety to the esky.

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