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Quality over quantity on the reef
  |  First Published: March 2017



In the Far North we are experiencing what many would term a typical wet season. There’s been ample rain for a month or so but importantly it hasn’t been over the top to the extent of causing extended flooding. This has meant that the fishing overall has remained in a stable condition.

The big winners with the rain we’ve seen so far have been the rivers and estuaries that have been receiving a constant flush pushing new forms of food and life along the coastline. In between the rains, when the dust has settled, we have been left with idyllic coastal conditions teeming with fish life. With big tides around the moons a lot of water is coming and going.

In the upper reaches at small run-off creeks, artificial causeways and ponds, the barra and jacks have been lying in wait for food to be delivered to them. Working these bottleneck waters with lures or a live bait under a float has worked a treat. As you move further down the systems there are tarpon working the deeper holes and a steady flow of mid-sized trevally, especially on the rising tide.

Ultimately, all things lead to the beaches and ocean and this is where the red-hot action has been. At the bottom of the food chain there has been an abundance of jelly prawns, mullet, sardines, garfish and prawns hugging the foreshore. This has been the perfect recipe to attract the likes of trevally, queenfish, tarpon, dart and permit, which can be seen working the surface. Underneath, barra, salmon and flathead are leaving behind big swirls on the surface after having vacuumed down a tasty meal. Across the horizon you can see big bow waves breaking the waters, which are either big golden trevally or sharks. Also cashing in have been pods of dolphins rounding up the mullet schools and when conditions have been absolutely right, massive mantarays have come in close feeding on the jelly prawns. It is an amazing sight when it all comes together. With a moderate wet season predicted we should be in for a solid run on the fish for some time to come.

Offshore

The reef fishing has probably been sitting at its low point for the year but there have still been some really good catches for the table. There is not one particular species dominating proceedings, but rather a real mixed bag of fish. As often occurs at this time of year, the fishing is more about quality than quantity.

Coral trout, small and largemouth nannygai, cobia, gold-spot trevally, reef jack, stripies, moses perch and red emperor have all had a part to play and the esky at the end of the day is an array of different colours. There has been the need to shift around a bit more to get the numbers but it has been made up for with the size of some of these fish.

Spanish mackerel have been a bit sparse of late but there’s been pockets of schools working deep pinnacles out in the open paddocks and trolling methods have worked best covering the ground till they are found. Overall the tide changes have paid dividends and a day on the reef is still well worth the effort.

For the next month or so we’ll be monitoring the amount of rain we receive and fingers crossed it is not too much or too little. To date it has been right on the money.

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