Cooktown winds mean rivers are the place to go
  |  First Published: June 2017

As we push into winter, the long hot days are starting to subside marking the arrival of the consistently strong southeast trade winds. The Far North will be flooded with tourists during June and July taking advantage of the drop in temperature for some Cape York adventures.

The Reefs

This time of year, the winds are up and the opportunities to get out on the reefs are limited. Those fortunate enough to get out have been reaping the rewards of some quality fish. Nannygai and spangled emperor have been abundant and for anglers willing to battle the conditions to get a bit wider there’s been some nice red emperor.

Mackerel are around the usual spots and those targeting them have been getting good catches. Best bait is anything live and caught on location. Cobia have been plentiful in recent times on most of our local reefs and wrecks and have been testing gear to its limits with their powerful runs. Cobias are being caught by those targeting mackerel and by anglers targeting reds and trout.


With the Cooktown winds in full swing the rivers have been the go-to location for a dose of fishing adventure. The estuaries will be relatively clear but we have been experiencing some late seasonal rain. This means plenty of estuary action. Local reports have been coming in about rat barra being caught in the upper reaches of tidal flow estuaries and the odd larger fish caught from suspending a live bait under a float.

Clear water usually has big trevally and queenfish chasing the bait right up into the brackish waters. Lots of surface action usually happens and it can be a bucket load of fun throwing small poppers into the schooling fish and watching them chase them down.

Grunter is another common species to target at this time of year. Try the deeper holes on clear days and up on the sand flats during a making tide on overcast days or at night. Grunter can spook easily so stealth fishing is the key. Estuary cod will also be biting so try around the snags for some nice by-catch. Don’t forget to soak some pots during your day on the river, with plenty of mud crabs being caught from both the Annan and Endeavour rivers.

Lakefield National Park

Lakefield National Park is open (central and south end of the park only). This has been a long waiting period for all those who are keen for more adventurous fishing. Barra will be in all the waterholes throughout the park. Flicking lures for barra while walking the banks is the most common method. Another method is to use a small tinnie allowing you to cover more of the waterholes with ease. Whichever method you use, remember to be croc wise because some big crocs call the park home. While the trade winds blow many locals will hit the park. From Cooktown, you can fish some Lakefield destinations and still make it home for dinner.

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