|  First Published: August 2007

Over the last few months the severe weather has made it hard to gauge the standard of fishing. However, recent calmer water has enabled many forms of angling to be explored and the results have been impressive.

Offshore, light game operators have taken advantage of calm seas and journeyed the distance to Linden Banks some 35 miles offshore. This is the first decent run of small black marlin that test anglers on stand-up gear. Generous numbers of juveniles to 200lb have delighted audiences with spectacular runs and jumps. Spanish mackerel have also been in their droves with some prehistoric monsters pushing the 80lb mark. If the weather is fine, light game adrenalin opportunities are definitely worth the expense and effort.

Remaining offshore, reef fishing enthusiasts are being rewarded with solid catches of coral trout, bar cheek trout, sweetlip, reef mangrove jack and small and large mouth nannygai. Calmer days have given anglers the opportunity to explore those deep unprotected waters where fish often school in large numbers. Once zoned upon a big school and coinciding with a tide change, the action is nothing short of fast and furious.

Sharks (predominantly tiger sharks) have been a problem at times, cashing-in on easy feeds of fish being pulled to the surface. It is often best to pull the pick of the fish and keep travelling to throw them off the trail. They have the uncanny knack of following fishing boats and you need to put some distance between you and them. Besides the generous piscatorial action there has been the annual run of whales reaching the region. A day on the reef has offered all sorts of wonderful scenes.

Closer to shore, coastal reefs have been firing for the smaller boat brigade. Oversized grassy sweetlip, stripeys, small mouth nannygai, gold spot cod and bar cheek trout completing most staple catches. These closer reefs are often overlooked, but they do offer plenty of action and a good feed. There are patches of spotted mackerel cruising into our region and there is also the occasional good Spanish mackerel to troll-up. As a bonus for those who kit the snorkelling gear and jump overboard, there are plenty of quality painted cray on offer on the inshore reefs.

Our rivers and creeks in recent times have appreciated some cleaner water entering the systems. Schools of medium sized trevally and queenfish are cruising in and out with the tides. Live baits placed in the channels have been devoured en-route as the fish steam inwards. Shallower water with plenty of sunshine has rewarded lure fishers with reasonable size barramundi.

The best results have been with pals working in tandem in the same section of water. One angler casts a popper and the other a shallow diving lure. The popper working across the surface has awoken the barra and they have been swiping at the lure just below the surface. The new moon period has sparked more action for a winter barra. There are plenty of bream, grunter, smaller mangrove jack, flathead and sicklefish on the chew for those happy to soak a bait amongst the snags, jetties or pylons. The only downside for bait soakers is the contingency of catfish on the march at the moment. The consolation is that they pull damn hard and offer a challenge on light gear.

Success at this time of year is simple; make the most of the good weather periods and fish hard on the tide changes. Dry season days with the golden sun shimmering on the water are just magical times to wet a line.

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