|  First Published: February 2007

The post Christmas period in Port Douglas has been extremely busy on the water with plenty of punters in town and great boating conditions on offer. Charter vessels were booked completely including all the biggest game boats and the local boat ramps were kept ticking over from dawn till dusk.

Overall the fishing was generous both inshore and offshore. The rivers and creeks provided a steady flow of mangrove jack, grunter, queenfish, fingermark and trevally, particularly on the first run of incoming tide and on the first hour of the run-out. Incidental barramundi catches increased to coincide with the warmer weather and this all looks promising for the start of the season on the 1 February. Run-off creeks after a nightfall of rain have been hotspots and these should be targeted by anglers as more rain is expected in February. If we receive a decent spell of rain, these run-off creeks will perform best 3-4 days after the rain has stopped.

The beaches have been a source of angling fun in recent weeks with an array of quality fish roaming the shallows on a rising tide. Blue salmon, trevally, queenfish, dart, permit and reef sharks have all had their hot bites and live mullet or garfish have been the best baits for the bigger fish. The dart and permit have been scouring the shores for small pipi shells but will take a fresh prawn bait if they come across it. Anglers should again concentrate their efforts around those small run-off creeks which flow into the ocean. One would also anticipate more jelly prawn hatches along the foreshore, and this highly sought food source will attract fish from far and wide.

The reef fishing has been reasonable particularly for those able to search out the nannygai schools in the 35m+ water depth range. A bonus has been an increase of thumping cobia, which have been hanging underneath these red schools. Fish to 20kg have been caught. At this size they are one of the strongest fish pound for pound and they certainly don’t like the sight of a boat transom. Bludger and tea-leaf trevally have also been mixed amongst the reds and have, at times, overtaken them in numbers. Coral trout have been around in good numbers for this time of year and the reef closures in the prior months seem to be having the desired affects. Pros and recreational fishers have noticed more consistent catches in recent months for this prized table eating fish.

Out on the blue highway game operators have been plugging away inside the paddocks and out on the shelf for some great rewards. Spanish mackerel made a brief return inside the reefs and ran hot for awhile, which is odd considering they’ve been like hen’s teeth for the past 12 months. There’s been a good run on the giant trevally hanging around the shallower bommies and are a sucker for a gold Halco lure. However you need to have a clean pair of heels to prevent these thugs from running into the bricks. Out wider and across the 50m and 100m patches there have been dolphinfish, wahoo, yellowfin tuna and the odd black marlin to 400lb. The season kicked on for a bit longer this year and in February dolphinfish and yellowfin tuna will be the top catches.

Everyone in the tropics will be keeping a keen eye on the weather map from now on especially after the disastrous cyclone season last year. Some say this will be the worst, while others are predicting little activity. Only time will tell and the fishing could remain great or it could all fall in a heap.

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