This month we should see fishing conditions improve after prolonged consistent heavy rains have made for difficult fishing.
The big wet that has invaded the tropical north will now start to dry out and there should be some ideal run-off fishing for local anglers over the next two months. This is the time to be on the water working any small creeks and drains with your baitcasting gear as the barramundi will be on the patrol at these locations in search of food being washed out and into the system. The flood rains will probably have made some changes to the local creeks and river banks and so be on the lookout for new boating hazards in the form of semi-submerged heavy logs which may cause severe damage to your boat.
On the plus side there may be several new fishing spots so this is also a good time of the year to check out new snags that developed over the wet season. I look for big, freshly fallen branches, away from the bank and with lots of green leaves still attached. These fresh snags are usually a signpost for barramundi.
When you locate the snag you may choose a quiet drift past the structure working your lures on the upstream side of the snag as you drift along. This is a very effective method if the run in the water is not too fast but it will not allow you to do follow-up casts unless you have a good powerful electric motor to help you cope. Quite often it is worthwhile to quietly anchor up and cast repeatedly at the structure before moving on. Do not get too close when you anchor as it is easy to disturb the fish. Pick a spot within an easy cast of where you want to target and set your anchor to allow the boat to drift down and be in that desired position.
You must take into account the wind and tidal run as well and remember it is easier if you can let out more rope rather than shift the boat entirely. Sometimes you may even have to use two anchors to maintain the best boat position; however taking the extra time to be in the right position may pay dividends when you are able to easily cast to all the likely fish-holding areas of the snag.
Most of the run-off water will have some colour to it. Avoid fishing water where it appears the run-off is heavily silted and crystal clear water is usually not that productive either. Choose to cast and fish water that has enough colour to provide cover for the barra and in particular fishing colour change lines at a creek or drain entrance is well worth it.
When looking for likely fish-holding structure, also look for signs of bait in the area, as you can be sure the fish will not be too far away. Once you have located the bait, spend more time casting those areas. Plan your trip to coincide fishing these spots at the tide changes and you will maximize your chances of nailing a barra or three.
April is not only a top month for large barramundi but is also great for large fingermark. The bigger specimens of both of these prime targets are usually captured with live baits in the deep holes and gutters of the Cairns Inlet. Such areas are off the sugar terminal or further up near the Bark Hut. There have been reports of several barra over the metre mark caught in the Cairns Inlet and Barron River recently on live baits and hopefully not too many of these magnificent breeding size fish were killed as they are definitely not much good to eat at that size.
For those anglers seeking a feed, bait fishing lately has also produced quality grunter and salmon which have been out and about on the inlet flats on the bigger tides as well as GTs, barra, jacks and fingermark inside the inlet. For those looking for live bait, the baitfish should return in numbers this month as the system settles after all the fresh, and we should again find good supplies of sardines and mud herring. Post wet has seen steady supplies of prawns with a cast net, and this should continue throughout the month. This top bait is essential when chasing barra, fingermark and many other species.
Lure casting has picked up after a fairly slow start early in the year, due mainly to the weather. A day casting on the river this month should return you a mixed bag of barra, jacks, queenfish and GTs. April is usually one of our better fishing months, and you should make sure your gear is up to scratch because there are always some big fish around including all of our favourite species, especially fingermark. In the rivers expect to see large GTs and as the amount of fresh diminishes, quality queenies should start to turn up. These fish will readily take a live sardine but are fantastic fun on many top-water lures including gold bombers and a variety of surface poppers.
Bottom fishing has been picking up with good quality catches of spangled emperors, coral trout and large-mouth nannygai. Shallower water seems to have been fishing better since water temperatures have cooled a little. Top water fishing has also been encouraging with plenty of action from northern bluefin tuna, mack tuna and already some prime early season Spanish mackerel. This looks promising for the light tackle season.
This could be the last month before we start to see the emergence of the winter trade wind pattern so make every good weather window count before those strong south easters arrive.
Till next month, good fishing.Reads: 545