October has turned on some brilliant weather and the water temperature is warming up just nicely. This has produced the Lutjanid genus to fire up on queue. I am looking forward to a good season during the warmer months to come.
Local fishers have started to catch good-sized fingermark on the headlands and Missionary Bay creeks. In fact, the fingermark have been so good that I recently managed to put clients onto a triple-header at one particular spot.
Another Lutjanids to fire up recently is the scarlet sea perch, with school size fish coming from the reefs. There have also been some real studs on the inshore shoals with fish up to 13kg. I find that the best baits for these fish are large squid or fresh tuna strips. Lift your bait a little off the bottom to improve your chances. We mainly let the larger fish go and encourage clients to take a couple of smaller fish instead.
During the summer months we find that scarlets and red emperors mainly feed at night particularly when the weather is glassed out. However, you can still catch them during the day in rough weather. Why this occurs we don’t really know, but it seems to be a regular pattern every year.
This years light tackle season was far from spectacular with marlin and sailfish proving hard to find in both Townsville and Port Hinchinbrook tournaments.
The winning crew at the Port Hinchinbrook tournament were local boys from Mission Beach on the vessel Wombino. The long time veterans took the lead with three black marlin tagged. The biggest in the other categories were a 15kg Spaniard, a 9kg cobia, a 7.5kg nannygai, and the largest coral trout was 4.5kg. The medium sized black marlin aggregate around the tuna schools during the flood run-off in the summer.
During November we will see the big golden grunter coming on the chew. Early signs have been positive already with many smaller grunter to around 2kg being taken by locals and visiting tourists. They are an easy fish to catch and the best baits are whole fresh squid, mullet strips, and small live greenback herring. Use a running rig with the sinker approx 50cm from the hook, and just enough weight to get your bait to the bottom. They can be caught practically anywhere.
Good places to look for are rubble bottoms in both rivers and out on the headlands. Good signs are plenty of shellgrit in amongst the mud on your anchor. And it’s also a good way to see what sort of bottom you have if you don’t have a sounder. The best moon phase is the making tides up to both moons, but I prefer up to the new moon for the larger 3-5kg fish.
Mangrove Jacks started making an appearance in October but this month is their prime time. They are easily taken around small gutters with heavy mangrove growth, mid-river rock bars and inshore headlands close to the rocks.
Mullet strips and live poddy mullet are considered the best baits, but I try using soft plastics as they were successful with jacks earlier in the year. For bait fishers, try a little pilchard berley – it does wonders.
If you would like any more info on fingermark, jacks and grunter or would like to book a charter to see how it’s done, then give us a call on 0414341972 or email --e-mail address hidden--Reads: 841