Follow the bait
  |  First Published: March 2007

The rain arrived in Port Douglas over the Australia Day weekend. Since then we have had continued rainfall and the river and creek systems are constantly in minor floods. Even though the rains have made inshore fishing tough it will ensure a successful breeding period for barramundi, which rely heavily on the rains for this process.

This rain has also spread a lot of bait around, especially towards the river mouths. This bait ultimately ends up along our foreshores and out to sea. The next month or so can mean exciting times trudging the beaches or rocky outcrops or headlands in pursuit of barra, blue salmon, giant herring, queenfish and trevally. These fish arrived just before the rains in anticipation of the food that would come their way. Certain fish must sense the weather patterns and congregate at locations where excess water enters the sea.

Prawns, mullet, sardines and garfish are now in the beach gutters and cast netting is the best way to score some live bait. Lay your bait traps in the same gutters as the predators will be chasing the same bait schools. The best times to fish the beaches and rocky outcrops are the incoming and the first of the outgoing tides. Also try casting your favourite lure to the bottom of the tide, especially for lurking barra.

Offshore there have been plenty of chances to explore the bluewater during the spells of good weather. The key is to watch out for nasty northerlies and storms that come from the mainland. Coral trout continue to top the charts and are biting well in 30m+ waters.

Fishing in the shallows has been unproductive so try to source bommies and bait in the deeper water. Plucking six 4-5kg trout off one hang has been the norm. Bluespot or Chinese footballer trout, sweetlip, a few small mouth nannygai and bludger trevally are usually mixed in with these fish. The fish have been biting on the turn of the tides.

It has been good to see the tuna schools return to the offshore paddocks. There is plenty of small fry bait on offer and the tuna have been feeding profusely. At some locations there are pockets of water erupting everywhere you look. This makes for awesome angling fun, tossing small tuna slugs in amongst the feeding frenzy on the surface and cranking the reel. On 4kg line striped and mack tuna have been a whole heap of fun. To be successful you need to match the hatch and 20-25g metal lures work well.

When you’re tired of hauling in tuna, try trolling around the schools with deep diving lures as there are a few Spanish mackerel still around. They are obviously sourcing an easy feed picking up scraps and hitting injured fish,.

An impressive Chinese footballer trout. These fish are in their juvenile stage and will turn into the bluespot trout as they get bigger. Size limits for this fish are 50cm to 80cm.


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