Big Players Take the Field
  |  First Published: December 2007

In recent times the centre of attention has been focused towards the gamefishing scene. The heavy tackle season got off to a slow start during the early part of October but is now in full swing as the big black marlin are active off our local shelf at Linden Bank and Opal Ridge.

Operators are reporting several strikes of marlin per trip ranging from 400-1000lb in size. As the norm, the hook-up rate is around 33%, so your chances of catching that ‘fish-of-a-lifetime’ have never been better. Epic battles, up to three or four hours, in the game chair with man fighting beast have been common fare. The afternoon period between 2-4pm is when you are likely to come across your monster fish.

Skippers are anticipating the big marlin action to continue till the middle of December before it starts to peatier off.

In between waiting for that big one, there is plenty of action still to be had on the light tackle scene. To complete an action packed day many operators are fishing light tackle in the morning and then swapping to the heavy tackle in the afternoon. Trolling the same ground with stand-up gear is providing anglers with many grinding moments tackling wahoo to 40kg, dolphin fish to 12kg, yellowfin tuna to 25kg and Spanish mackerel to 30kg. Popper fishing the bommies on the reef, which have bait on the surface, is also yielding good-sized giant trevally up to 20kg so there are plenty of options on the light gear.

After tackling these beauties and then backing up on a big marlin or two, you'll see why our region has an awesome reputation in this style of fishing. The 48 boats that entered the Lizard Island tournament this year is testimony to such bragging rights.

Moving onto reef fishing, the coral trout catches are still dominating proceedings. They've been congregating up into the shallows to spawn and have been easy targets. Mixed in amongst the trout catches have been good-sized stripies, sweetlip and various cod species. The reds have quietened to some degree but can still be found biting in water 30-40m deep. Locals are recording best results for nannygai and red emperor on overnight trips. Be aware we have one more reef closure to complete between 3-11 December 2007.

Inshore, and with plenty of bait in our systems, queenfish and trevally have been sweeping in during clean incoming tides. Place live sardines in the channel highways during the bigger morning tides and you’ll come across plenty of action. The Daintree River has reported captures of queenfish to over a metre. The fish will move upstream in to the deeper holes and can remain active until the turn of the outgoing tide.

Upstream you'll also find the mangrove jack are now very aggressive and luring or casting baits amongst any sort of decent structure will gain their attention. You'll need to be very alert as some of these jacks are reaching 50cm and they hit like a freight train. The first part of the outgoing tide is seeing the bigger players take the field.

In slightly deeper water, but amongst structure, the fingermark are on fire as well and these fish are considered the best eating by many. Fingermark are best targeted on the top of the tides as they tend to hold in places where there is plenty of current and the slack part of the tides allows you to avoid hazardous snags.

There's also no doubt that you'll come across accidental barramundi during your pursuits this coming month as they really came on the bite just prior to their closure. Do take extra care in their release as they are in their spawning cycle.

A tip for the coming month is to fish in low light periods as many fish go into a slumber during the heat of the day. If you can coincide a tide change during low light your chances will improve considerably. Night sessions will also yield plenty of fish whether it be river or reef. If your budget allows, have a crack at the gamefishing scene, you wont be disappointed!

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