Gearing up for a Carnivale
  |  First Published: May 2007

Last month opened up all sorts of angling opportunities with spells of decent weather breaking up the tail end of the wet season. Good rain followed by warm, calm days always ignites fishing in the tropics.

Most river mouths and surrounding headlands have seen plenty of action with good bait supplies holding in the area. Queenfish and trevally patrol these areas and have not been able to resist poppers skipped across the surface. The clean incoming tide on calm days has provided for the best catches.

The good fishing has continued along the beaches, which have been providing more action than ever before. Long-term locals said they had never seen so much life along the beaches with fish seemingly everywhere. The jelly prawn hatches brought in the hordes, including the ever-dangerous box jellyfish. Flyfishers performed best with jelly prawn or the small baitfish imitations that the predators favour. Solid trevally, queenfish and tarpon were plentiful and catching and releasing a dozen or more fish in an hour was common. Of course, this happened the most at first light and while the weather was calm.

The fish stuck around even after the winds returned and tried to find food in the murky waters. Blue salmon and barramundi came to the fore using the discoloured water as a way to ambush bait. Live or fresh dead garfish baits worked best when fished during the incoming tides in the late afternoon.

Mixed in among the preferred species were white-spot shovelnose rays, grunter and reef sharks.

There has been great fishing everywhere, and this sort of action along the beaches should continue into the first stages of May providing the south easterlies don’t take hold and dominate weather patterns. With plenty of bait around at the moment it should continue entice the bigger fish. Cooya and southern Four Mile beaches have been hot spots to soak a bait.

Around the second week of May we experience what we call a cold snap in the tropics. Night temperatures drop below 15 and while this prompts the inshore barramundi winter slumber and the fishing slows overall, it has the opposite effect offshore. Without fail, anglers in the know will shift their efforts towards the reef and tap into the nannygai that will feed voraciously. After months of intermittent feeding, they snap into an aggressive mode overnight. Catching bag limits is easy when they come on the bite. Nannygai also trigger a chain reaction as surrounding trevally, sweetlip and reef mangrove jack join the action. Closer to the surface mackerel species, cobia and reef mangrove jack patrol eagerly and having a floating pilchard or live bait on a float while bottom fishing will gain serious attention. So far there have been glimpses of this hot fishing but the best is still to come.

Thanks to the cooler conditions coral trout will start arriving from the deeper waters and will be found quite easily amongst shallow bommies in 10-20m of water. Simple handlining makes for easy reef fishing with the big bonus of a good feed waiting. This sort of fishing is ideal for families and introducing kids to the wonders of our reef. Combined with an island stop or a reef snorkel it makes for a magical day on the water.


This year’s Carnivale Fishing Bonanza will be held from 18-27 May and offers over $80,000 in cash and prizes. Major prizes include $50,000 cash for tagged barra, $1,000 for each of 20 tagged fish and a trip for two to Guam (Micronesia). For more information visit www.fishingportdouglas.com.au.

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