Northern Variety
  |  First Published: August 2007

Nearing the end of winter, August is a month of pleasant weather in the far north. Most of the roads have been open for a while, easing access to remote destinations.

Despite the agreeable climate, fisherman venturing north should be wary of the possible 20-knot south-easterlies that can blow for the whole month. The August weather can see the barramundi tailing on the surface or cleaner creeks and billabongs, only to snub every offering made by the angler.

Generally, when water temperatures fall by a few degrees it can send many estuary dwellers off the bite. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Good numbers of fingermark, cod, grunter, blue salmon, dusky bream, smaller barra and others are all still possible during this time of year.

Trevally, queenfish, barracuda and shoals of huge milkfish infest the sandy stretches of rivers. Casting poppers at huge queenfish patrolling the flats at dusk will be a real highlight. Another delight will be waking up in the morning watching tarpon tailing in the clear current of the upper Archer River.

There are also plenty of offshore options this time of year. With an easterly breeze, good boating conditions will be possible right along the west coast. Many of the pelagic fish will be feeding close to shore and the run of mackerel and tuna can test any angler on any gear.

Keep a keen eye out for cobia and permit (snub-nosed dart) working inshore areas. Watch for terns feeding over salmon, queenfish and little broad barred mackerel only a few hundred meters offshore. Golden trevally tend to travel in small groups, but can be seen drifting along in large colourful packs.

If you come across patches of bait on the sounder and only the occasional swirl on the surface, start throwing around metal slices, buck-tailed jigs or soft plastics. It may be slue salmon, brassy trevally or even giant herring. All these fish are very susceptible to a quickly stripped fly.

Australia is lucky enough to have some form of tuna species right the way round its coastline. In the northern regions, longtail and northern blue are the arm-stretchers. These fish are ready and willing to scoff a spoon, fly, popper or soft plastic. The first run is something to behold, as line pours from whatever reel is in use. The tuna is a fighter right to the end and looks stunning when they get nearer the boat. The sunshine bringing out the best in their colours.

Another popular local pastime this time of year, is to go camping up the river. The massive wetland area running south from the Archer River comprises of many secluded waterways packed with sooty grunter, saratoga, barramundi, tarpon and huge catfish.

Casting fizzers late in the afternoon into a pool slightly downstream of rapids is a true pleasure in life. Watching a bow wave move steadily up behind the fizzing lure and crash tackle it, is knee-knocking stuff. Saratoga are so fantastic at leaping off, while sooties are more hit and run bandits. The barra zig-zag a couple of times before crashing up through the surface in a series of tail walking leaps.

Having the ability to diversify your options is the key to making August profitable as an angler. Try a few different things instead of casting repetitively for barra. Get mobile, have a good look around the countryside and the waterways and try something new.

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