Signs of a ripper marlin season ahead
  |  First Published: May 2017

It was a long time coming but after such a dry spell the wet season kicked into gear during the past month. We were luckily spared the destructive drama of Cyclone Debbie in the very far north but following the event some decent moisture was dragged into the region. Also, for the first time in a long time we experienced extended periods of freshening winds for a week or more creating a double whammy of challenging fishing conditions. The rain was desperately needed to keep ticking over the cycle of life and the rejuvenation of new food sources.

Despite the challenges at hand the fishing in the tropical north has been quite reasonable on all fronts especially during the calmer periods. For example, the local estuaries and creeks have been fishing exceptionally well for mangrove jack who seem to relish the tougher conditions. In the bigger river systems, such as the Daintree, there has been a good run on 1m+ queenfish in the main parts of the channel with 50-60cm javelin fish and golden trevally working the gutter edges and flats. The rains have stirred up the inshore waterways and there is a healthy supply of live bait to access.

Our coastal beaches have benefitted from the recent precipitation and are currently holding a lot of bait including prawns, jelly prawns, mud herring and garfish to name a few. This has been the calling sign for the likes of tarpon, trevally, queenfish and blue salmon to come right into the shallows for a feed. The breakthrough creeks are also holding numbers of barra not far from the shoreline.


Out on the reef numbers of fish have been ticking over nicely with coral and bar-cheek trout being the staple catch for many. Bar-cheek in particular have been impressive of late getting up to the 6-7kg range.

Large and small mouth nannygai have been around in spurts but they will shift into a new gear as the water temperatures start to drop. Other than this it has been a real mixed bag of fish including cobia, spangled emperor, sweetlip, long nose emperor, stripies, gold spot and tea-leaf trevally with the odd horse of a red emperor or big golden trevally thrown in.

It seems a bit early but at the back end of March we started to see some decent pelagic activity on the reef.

Spanish mackerel started to turn up in reasonable numbers mainly around the 6-7kg range and there were numerous reports of juvenile marlin being caught as well.

There were several small black marlin caught on the inside of the outer reef and surprisingly a couple of juvenile blue marlin were caught within the outer reef itself. The majority of these fish were caught on a spread of lures entailing skirts, hardbody lures and skipping garfish. All the marlin caught were in their infant stages of around 10kg and this is a great sign for the coming months ahead. Last year was a poor year on the small marlin population but if they are already here then it could be a bumper light tackle season. You only need to look back a couple of years when the juvenile marlin turned up early in May and it went onto be a ripper season.

With a gradual drop in water temperature and a potential swing in the current direction the reef is ready to fire up deep down below and up on the surface.

The rivers and creeks will also continue to deliver good results in the coming month so there is a lot to like if you are going to be fishing in the local area.

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