With a slow build up to the big black marlin season, things started to gather pace towards the end of October and early November. The bite further north along the Ribbon Reefs was starting to wane, so a lot of the fleet ventured back south to the grounds of St Crispins, Agincourt, Opal Ridge and the famous Linden Bank.
Here the gamefishing brigade found the fishing more consistent with a lot more big girls around, mainly between the 600-850lb mark. The odd monster exceeded these weights. Some skippers are of the belief that these more southern grounds will continue to fire for a while into December. What may have seemed initially to be a very quiet year, might turn into a late charge with lots of big fish to be caught.
Also on the shelf, the light tackle scene has experienced moments of excitement with mahimahi, wahoo, big Spanish mackerel and patches of yellowfin tuna ambushing lure spreads. They’re just part of the food chain which encompasses the arrival of the whopper black marlin for its breeding process. Looking ahead, fishing fleets will also explore a lot wider of the shelf, as numbers of blue marlin and the yellowfin aggregation unfold over the coming months.
Closer to home, the reef fishing scene has been up and down, as we enter the hottest part of the year. The spawning of the reef fish has been all over the shop this year. Some did their business a while ago and others wait for the last moment. This affects their feeding patterns, but the emperors including red, spangled and long-nosed have remained the most consistent species.
Luckily, the trevally troops including gold spot and bludger have been ultra busy and kept rods bending when all seemed quiet. Coral trout and nannygai have had bursts of activity with stripies, Moses perch and sweetlip. Some really big specimens are on the bite. The Spanish mackerel are not as prolific as they once were, but the ones caught are those big rogue individuals often in excess of 20kg.
Night sessions have been far more productive when targeting the reds, according to locals. Notably on the reef, there’s an algae bloom in a lot of places on the surface and it has to do with the coral spawning. Reef fishing will settle down in the coming weeks and the fishing will return to some normality. It won’t be too hard to secure a good swag of fish.
Inshore, barra rattled off some impressive numbers and sizes before the closures. According to some guides, it was the best October period they’d seen in quite a while for this species, with a lot of fish very active down at the lower reaches, river mouths and coastal mangroves. With the barra off the wish list, there have been plenty of other quality species around, including good numbers of mangrove jack and golden snapper.
Decent trevally up to 4kg have moved in with the tides and grunter, javelin fish, up to 60cm+ have been recorded across the flats. Tarpon are schooling in the deeper holes and have been extremely active after dark. The best results overall have been during low light periods with the middle parts of the day proving too hot even for the fish.
With the school holidays around the corner and Christmas mixed in, no doubt tourist numbers will swell and we’ll be in for a very busy festive period.