Hot to Trot
  |  First Published: December 2006

The fishing in this part of the Gulf has been exceptional over the past few months. This trend will hopefully continue into January, depending on the timing and severity of this year’s wet season.

There are a lot of things about the wet season that can be trying: scorching temperatures, rain squalls, cyclones and flies especially. Even when out on the water soon after first light, that extra sting of the sun’s reflection will take its toll.

But as with many things, the best conditions are often found in the most trying times. Rivers beginning to flow and high water temperatures trigger feeding frenzies amongst fish.

January is often the true transition between wet and dry seasons. Good rains can be bad rains for anglers, but this process of perjury through rain is the most crucial time of year for all fish species in one way or another. Feeding, breeding and migratory patterns are geared around the wet season.

It’s best to break up the day’s fishing with rests in the shade and plenty of cold water. The first three hours following dawn and the three prior to dark are usually the most productive.

January in the tropics is usually the least fished time of the year. The threat of bad weather and torrential down pours usually scares all but the locals off. There is nothing better than having that favourite spot to yourself and this helps make the harsh conditions bearable.

During neap tides and with the absence of strong afternoon sea breezes, fishing out along the coast can still be productive. There will be good numbers of cod ready to steal valuable lures and flies into the rocks. Fingermark, mangrove jack, bluebone, stripey, coral trout, trevally and blue salmon are always a possibility for those throwing flies and soft plastics around shallow reef and rocks.

Salmon (blue and king), grunter, fingermark and barramundi (closed season) are all about in good numbers. In January, jigs, flies and highly visible forms of fishing can be productive. Poppers will get belted on the prime times of sunrise and sunset.

It will be a real pleasure this January, dropping Prawnstars down into the deep, mid-water snags up the Ward, Watson and Small Archer rivers. There is nothing quite like the feeling of a big jack hitting your plastic imitation close to timber on the drop! My advice is to hang on and hope for the best.

Mud crabs and prawns may both be found in numbers out along the muddy flats adjacent to mangrove stands. A cast net can get you into some small banana prawns for bait or even to eat. Cherabin (freshwater prawn) may also begin to migrate down the river and can be caught either by cast nets or Opera House pots.

This is a time of year to experiment with new techniques and a couple of locations you wouldn’t normally fish. Be ready to travel, follow the trail of bait and make your efforts are based purely on what you see before you.

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