Cape York in November is a hot proposition
  |  First Published: November 2017

The weather is hot and the fishing even hotter. This is late spring and waterways, wetlands and coastal areas will all be alive with activity. Birds, bait and blue current lines full of fish will be the norm. Small coastal estuaries will be firing and the shallow inshore areas on the west coast will have all manner of hungry critters tearing their way through baitfish. Mornings will see most of the action near shore as conditions are typically settled and a consistent pattern of afternoon onshore breezes will stir things up a little.

I remember I missed Melbourne Cups, because I was up in the Cape fishing. Large fish, which usually sit outside the estuaries, start pushing up in with the tides. Big queenfish and GTs get around in some of the west coast river mouths and are a possibility. Poppers, soft plastics and vibes fished on the second half of the run-in tide are an effective way to search.

Golden trevally, giant herring, blue salmon, tarpon, barracouta and queenfish are other species will transition on and off the beaches right down the Cape’s west coast. All can be targeted on fly gear and with small spinning outfits with soft plastics. Look for highways or gutters where the fish can access the beach or flat from deeper water. Be patient and wait for roaming fish to swim past your station.

The inside sand bar of most creek and river mouths will be a pleasant spot to fish in November. A breeze usually picks up in the afternoons to make conditions a more comfortable. Live bait, shallow divers, plastics and vibes are a great way to explore these sandy conditions.

Sometimes getting caught too far up a river system can get unbearably hot this time of year. Only stubborn fishers put up with it. Bite times will usually be shorter, but more intense and the middle of the day can often be wasted. Concentrate your efforts on the morning period and late-afternoon.

Every year, November plays sponsor to many epic captures, from huge black marlin on the east coast, to sailfish on the west coast. By now, we’ll hear about the captures made during the 30th Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic. This is a testing ground for some of the world’s greatest captures year after year. Of course, the weather plays a huge part in its success and more than likely some epic captures will occur after the tournament and well into November.

Many fish have their mind set on spawning towards the end of spring and some very strict rules apply to fisheries and closed season this time of year. Besides barramundi seasonal closures on both coasts, there is also a Coral Reef finfish closure from 26-30 November.

More than other times of the year, try and leave fish alone once you’ve caught your fill. Spawning congregations of fish such as golden snapper and nannygai can be disturbed when large fish are caught and released, with mortality rates rather high. Some of the larger specimens might be responsible for replacing tens of thousands of fingerlings to come, so fish responsibly, take only what you need and keep your favourite fisheries healthy into the future.


Chester fly-casting on a remote Cape York creek mouth.


Nice jack taken on low tide by a keen young fisho.


A great backwater barra taken on a heli-fishing trip.

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