Rivers and reefs on their spawning run
  |  First Published: November 2017

In November, barramundi get a rest from fishers right through until 1 February due to the closed season for this species. The barramundi will be spawning at river mouths and headlands as the weather builds up in the Cape. As the storm cells brew and the weather becomes unbearably hot, a lot of other ocean and river species will be on their spawning run.

This calendar month marks the official opening of cyclone season. You may be lucky to get a few more camping trips in at this time of year. Be prepared for some seriously hot days and nights, and also an odd storm that may drop a lot of rain really fast, which can leave you stuck until it dries again.

There were good opportunities to get out to the reefs over the last few weeks with the winds being only a slight breeze at worst. Reports of quality coral trout catches have been coming in thick by a large number of boats who went out at these times. Get out on the rubble to find the big reds once you’ve got trout. Don’t forget our coral reef fish closures on 28 October to 1 November, and 26-30 November.

When you’re out there, send out a floater for the Spaniards while bottom fishing. This method for catching Spanish mackerel still seems to be the most effective at the moment. This time last year, we had hundreds of juvenile black marlin schooling up in our shipping channel straight out the front, so it’s definitely worth a try for billfish on light gear for some fun and great photos.

Estuaries in the Cooktown region have been producing quality fish too. The Endeavour River has produced quality barramundi and mangrove jacks over the last month on a daily basis. Most catches have come from the Wharf, Marton Boat Ramp, the Stone Wall and up the north arm of the Endeavour.

Forget the barra this month – mangrove jack and estuary cod are responding really well for those who like sight casting lures into snags or trolling. Live and dead baits sunk down into some snags are an effective way to catch these fish. If you head down near the mouth you can try for trevally, queenfish and mackerel while trolling metallic lures or floating a dead or live bait. The Bloomfield, Annan and McIvor rivers will also be effective with the same techniques.

Once again this year, Lakefield National Park fishing over October was a very hard bite to predict. On one day the barra were biting hard and the next day we couldn’t raise anything. We spent a few days up at Nifold Plains and fished the Annie, North Kennedy and Bizant rivers without any success despite trying a number of different techniques for barra.

To be honest, I doubt barra fishing will improve much next year, until we get some good consecutive wet seasons. Good wet seasons will have the barra fill the rivers far up into the catchment areas and in return grow and come back down for the next breeding season, which will hopefully quadruple the current number of fish.


When you’re catching two barra on one lure, you know they’re hungry.


The travelling setup while exploring new fishing grounds.


The author hooked up to a Spanish mackerel.

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