And then there was Monica!
  |  First Published: June 2006

What a year it has been so far.

Just when we were getting back to some semblance of normality after Larry, along comes Monica. Yes, Cyclone Monica arrived and Cairns escaped her fury but locals had to deal with heavy flood rains. Monica dumped massive flooding rains around Cairns and throughout Cape York. Major damage was done to the main road through to Weipa as well as many of the Cape roads and tracks. This is sure to have an impact over the coming weeks and months on the many people intending to travel into this remote part of the north in search of barra. Initial reports suggest there will be considerable time before sufficient repairs are made to open up the roads once again. Our thoughts go out to the many struggling Cape businesses who rely on the tourist traffic of recreational anglers and campers for their income. If you are coming a long way from down south it would be advisable to check out whether your favourite fishing spot is actually accessible before making the big journey.


Over the last month there hasn’t been a whole lot of fishing due to the severe weather but by June things will be well and truly getting back on track. In and around Cairns water levels have been settling down with most rivers and creeks enjoying an extended period of wet season run-off. This means anglers get an extended period of time to target barra. It also bodes well for the growth and distribution of future barra stocks.

The fishing conditions in many of the river mouths and estuaries haven’t been ideal but this should also improve as the run-off subsides and saltwater starts to return. The usual arrival of winter queenies and trevally into all the systems may not happen until a little later this year. Once most of the fresh clears there should be some quality grunter and salmon about. Some of the other winter species like pikey bream, whiting and dart will also show up.

This month the Cairns Harbour leads are usually very popular for chasing doggy and spotted mackerel. Most of the small boat owners try to get out really early before the wind makes it too unfishable. There have been some decent barra taken by livebaiting around the pylons and snags of the inlet. Live mullet and prawns seem to be doing the trick.

If you are keen to chase up a barra or two on lures before conditions get too cool then this month might be your best option for a little while. My suggestion is to seek out any areas where feeder creeks and drains are entering the main rivers or estuary and work these over with your favourite barra lures.

Here are a few tips to remember:

Once you have chosen your location (feeder creek or snag) make a very subtle entrance into the surroundings. I have always believed in the stealth approach and make every effort to keep as quiet as possible. Avoid any excessive noise such as rattling anchor chains and set your anchor well up stream so that you can just let out more rope to give you plenty of scope for lure presentation without having to fire up your outboard. No problem if you have an electric motor.

Look for any areas where there is a colour change in the water as these are often ideal holding spots for barra and jacks. Barra are mostly going to be found just out of the main current or water flow where they will be waiting to ambush any food washed out in the run-off. Best times are an hour either side of the low tide change as well as dawn and dusk.

One of the most common mistakes beginning lure casters make when chasing barra is to work their lure too quickly. Remember barra are a sluggish fish that like to ambush their food when it is delivered close by. The longer you can keep your lure hovering in close proximity to a barra, the more chance you will have of turning the fish on to strike.

Work your lure with slow twitches and even occasionally stop your retrieve completely and pause before recommencing the slow retrieve. Be persistent as sometimes barra won’t appear until you have made 20 casts. If you are casting at a snag it is a good tactic to have other lures ready and try deeper divers to cover all the depths. I often have two or three rods rigged with different lures and simply change up so I can go to a deeper swimming lure in a moment. This gives you more productive fishing time and ultimately will bring more strikes as you more cover all the options by completing a wider depth of lure presentation.


Those anglers who have been trying to get offshore to top up their waning fish fillet supplies have had a frustrating time dealing with some windy weather. There have been a few windows of opportunity and the anglers who have their boats ready and are quick off the mark usually have been rewarded.

Dropping water temperatures have triggered some fantastic fishing action with bottom fishers in between in the reefs in the deeper water, bagging small and large mouth nannygai, red and spangled emperors while up in the reef shallows they have bringing home some quality coral trout along with sweetlip and some reef jacks. Heaps of trevally, goldies, the odd cobia and a few Spaniards have been starting to show up. Plenty of schools of tuna have also been around for the tuna chuckers. This action should continue and get better for the macks throughout June as long as the winds are kind enough to let us get out there amongst them.

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