TNQ has been inundated with rain signalling the start of a good old fashioned wet season. All of the rivers, creeks and estuaries got a good flushing. The rains also arrived in time to protect vulnerable breeding barra from anglers keen to enjoy the opening of the season.
March is usually a top fishing month that provides a lot of fishing options. The rivers and estuaries usually fire as the run-off provides enough time to chase barramundi. There will be a lot of bait around and most of our prime inshore targets will be feeding up before the winter pattern arrives.
The heavy flood rains will have pushed most of the bait schools and prawns out of the systems temporarily so try fishing the local headlands for a few barra. It’s a good idea to get yourself a small backpack and get some essentials for a few hours of shore-based lure casting.
I suggest packing a water bottle, sunscreen, snacks, 12 of your favourite barra lures, pliers, knife, snaps and leader. Make sure you have good foot protection, a hat and some quality polarising sunglasses.
If you not familiar with the area, there are plenty of places to try including Yorkeys Knob Headlands, Trinity Beach, Taylors Point at Kewarra and the headlands on the way to Port Douglas. There is a track along the rock face from the groyne at the northern end of the beach to the boat ramp at Half Moon Bay. Care should be taken when climbing and it’s usually better if you fish the bottom half of the tide. If you are fishing along the way to Port Douglas check that you don’t enter the green zone.
When casting from the rocks many anglers cast too far from the shore. Anglers should always cast towards a feature such as some rocks or cluster of rocks that may hold fish. Most of the barra will probably be in close almost under your feet. Look for telltale signs of bait, swirls and boofing noises. If you can find any areas that water is draining into or small sheltered back eddies created by the tide, barra are likely to be behind the rock formations.
If you don’t hook a fish straight away don’t just give up after one or two casts. Wait 20-30 casts before moving to the next spot and try varying your lure retrieve style and keeping the lure in the strike zone for as long as possible. Try to impart a subtle roll action to your lures and don’t be afraid to stop winding and stall the lure before recommencing the retrieve. Sunrise and sunset are the best times for headland fishing; it’s even better if these times coincide with the bottom half of the tide.
If the water is really clear, which is unlikely after all the rain, then try fishing somewhere else. Barra don’t usually prefer water that has enough colour to provide some cover for them. The big wet we are experiencing means that anglers will do better fishing the falling water or run-off around features like the drains and gutters.
Before the heavy rains there were plenty of jacks around along with barra and fingermark in the estuaries, grunter and GTs out on the flats and salmon on the beaches. The arrival of the heavy rains has flushed out stacks of prawns from the creeks and this month there will be plenty of prawn around for those with a cast net chasing a feed or live baits.
In February anglers enjoyed days of light wind so even small boats could head out and chase everything from mullet to marlin. Most boats travelled a little further offshore than normal and had a crack at new spots or species. Anglers have been returning home with excellent catches of coral trout, red and spangeled emperors and nannygai. Spanish mackerel have been caught from the topwater action, along with late season black marlin, yellowfin tuna and wahoo. Wreck fishing has produced some great cobia as well as plenty of GTs and the odd barracuda.
It’s essential to check for storm activity if you’re planning an overnight trip or an offshore evening session. Heavy overnight rains can make river and creek locations run red by the morning after downpours in the catchment areas. If this happens, the larger estuaries like the Cairns Inlet will still provide the best inshore lure casting options.Reads: 1972