Life after Larry
  |  First Published: May 2006

It’s been a few weeks since cyclone Larry visited this region. The devastation of the Innisfail and Babinda districts has been well documented but it will be some time before a complete assessment is made of all the local fishing locations south of about Bramston Beach. The inclement weather that has accompanied this extended wet season has meant many fishos have remained connected to the more pressing business of cleaning up and rebuilding after the cyclone.

Cairns anglers will be pleased to know that at least as far south as the Russell River things are looking OK. It seems that most of the coastal areas north of Russell Heads escaped relatively unscathed. There are also many newly created snags in the Russell and Mulgrave rivers as well as the Cairns Inlet and the Baron River. Some of the best inshore fishing I have experienced over the years has been lure casting to newly fallen snags after a cyclone.

These newly fallen trees are usually green and bushy and provide a haven for a whole range of creatures from bait, right up to prime targets like barramundi and mangrove jack. My advice to anyone chasing a barra or two would be to seek out any new snags, especially on the bottom half of the tide, and give them a severe work over with your favourite lures.

I’ve had reports of barra being on the chew after the heavy rains. As the run-off subsides, targeting small drains and newly created snags with well placed lures should produce a few fish. Match your lures to the depth of water you are casting at, using lures like gold Bombers and B52s for shallower water up to around 4-5 feet and change over to deep divers for anything up to about 8-10 feet.

There are so many lures on the market it can be hard to choose, but anything resembling a Rapala Shad Rap SR9 pattern will climb down quickly and get you in the strike zone in the deep water. I tend to troll water deeper than about 10 feet as it usually is a more effective way to present a lure.

Be aware that soon the local rivers will feel the effects of our northern winter and May will probably present us with the best conditions for barramundi for at least the next three months.


Once again the weather over the last month has limited opportunities for many fishos, but in the short periods of good weather the fishing has been quite good. Bottom fishing away and between the reefs has produced some quality catches of large mouth nannygai, and local charter operator Kerry Bailey reported one outstanding day when over 30 of these fine fish were boated. Kerry said most of the fish were around 4-5kg and many were released by his party and some he tagged.

Wreck fishing has been fairly consistent, with metal slices and Bumpa Bars producing endless trevally and occasional big catches of school mackerel as well as continued good numbers of cobia. There are also signs the mackerel are arriving in numbers with doggies, spotties and Spaniards being caught. Now is probably a good time to get ready for the mackerel season as the next few months are prime time for these sought after fish.

Mack Time!

Successful mackerel outings will come to most anglers using the tried and tested mackerel rig of floated pilchards on the usual three-hook gang with a wire trace. Standard three-hook gangs are fine but if I’m using larger baits I prefer to make my own gang. It’s easy if you have the right pliers, you just have to buy hooks that don’t have the eye closed up.

Livebaits caught on-site such as small trevally, barracuda or fusiliers usually produce the larger fish. You can use a ready-made bait jig from your local tackle store, or you can make your own jig rigged up on a light spin outfit with 4-6kg mono. Just tie a succession of dropper loops in the main line and use about six separate 1/0 hooks set up 30cm apart with a sinker to suit the run, tied at the end of the rig.

Bait up these small hooks with squid, pillies or fish flesh, drop the rig over the side and hold on, as usually it won’t be long before you get some action. Occasionally your bait will be seized by a hungry mackerel before you can get the bait into the boat. If there is no action, try varying the depth.

Trolling is also an excellent way to produce macks and the most popular methods are wog head rigged fresh garfish and lures such as Leads, and there have been encouraging reports about the big RMGs. Trolled wolf herring and trolled doggie mackerel rigs are known to attract the bigger predators and are well worth the extra effort of rigging. It usually takes a bit of practice to rig up a wolfie and ensure these large trolled baits swim correctly and do not spin or dive erratically to one side.

There are now some good jigheads on the market that are especially made up for trolling wolf herring, and these heads do make the job simpler. When drift fishing set out a berley trail with cubed pillies and tuna oil and make sure you have baits set at different depths i.e. bottom, mid and surface. Once you locate bait on your sounder it is important to match your bait presentation with the depth the bait is showing on the sounder.

If you are unsure about which rod and reel to use for mackerel just ask your favourite tackle shop as there are plenty of quality affordable options.

Hopefully these tips can help you nail your first big Spaniard of the season.

Until next month, good fishing.



Shaun Mayes shows off a new season spotty mackerel taken on a small metal Raider slice.


This is a sample of the excellent large-mouth nannygai currently being taken between the reefs out from Cairns.

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