We now find ourselves in the clutches of the year’s cooler months and even though preferred inshore species have slowed, the offshore fishing will only get hotter.
Reef fishing is at its peak with fantastic table fish on offer. Coral trout are easy targets in the shallows, nannygai have been biting consistently in 25-35m of water and Spanish mackerel (the ocean mafia) are carving up the surface.
Floating pilchards or livebaits while bottom bouncing has produced many screaming moments as the mackerel hunt in packs. Once one mackerel hits the others will follow and double hook-ups have become common. These fish range between 10kg and 20kg so you can imagine the chaos created in the cockpit area. Hot spots for mackerel have been where pressure points occur on sections of reef with plenty of clean current and bait. Tongue, Chinaman, Saint Crispin and Rudder reefs have all recently produced quality Spanish mackerel.
Game fishing operators report that trolling these pressure points with skipping garfish and lures has been productive. Other areas that have shown good returns are the shallow bommies in 10-15m of water where giant trevally to 25kg can be found, near Tongue Reef and the paddocks off Port Douglas.
The odd small black marlin can be caught amongst the spread. Small 100lb puppies are around at the moment and they are plenty of fun on 15kg line. Due to their spectacular aerial jumps and flips, the hook-up rate is about 50% with many throwing the hooks. The next month or so will see them appear more consistently.
Inshore water temperatures have dropped and winter species are now dominating catches. There are a variety of fish on offer including grunter, bream, estuary cod, smaller jacks and fingermark, sicklefish, queenfish and trevally such as smaller goldens, GTs and cale cale.
A few smaller barra and legal jack are being caught throwing lures on the bottom of the tide and the best spots are small drains and freshly fallen mangrove trees. The new foliage provides shelter for baitfish, which then attract predators. The jacks seem to be solitary but barra are sitting in small packs. We experience big daytime tidal movement during the winter months and when this coincides with cleaner water coming in from the ocean, the results improve dramatically.
Port Douglas hosted the Carnivale Fishing Bonanza for the second year in a row at the end of May. Two hundred and eighty contestants competed for $70,000 cash in the tagged fish section and for heaps of other prizes in the catch and release section.
Unfortunately, the $50,000 golden tagged barra was not caught, but two $1000 tagged fish were caught by Steve McCormack and Billy Diacos. The Maley family won the trip to Guam in Micronesia.
Overall $12,000 in cash and prizes was given away and the competition was considered a big success. Special guests over the course of the competition included Scott Hillier from Creek to Coast and Jason Hagen and Garry Smith of ABC radio’s Fishtalk program.Reads: 1788