White knuckle stuff
  |  First Published: July 2006

It seemed to take ages to shake off the wet season but things have finally turned around and it appears that the dry season has arrived at last.

Our winter days have been mostly conducive to sitting around in a boat and wetting a line. Even though we’d had enough of the wet, the benefits for our fisheries are already starting to show. People in the know have already witnessed a massive burst of new juvenile fish life in various places including barramundi, jewfish, salmon, queenfish, flathead and many more. A good wet season usually means a healthy year ahead in the fishing stakes.

Recently the reef fishing has exploded with some very impressive catches being recorded particularly when it comes to the prized red species such as nannygai and coral trout. In early June the current turned north bringing cooler water and this pushed fish into feeding mode.

Shane Down and myself experienced one of the best reef fishing sessions in years in June when we caught 30+ fish off one particular hang. The action was blistering and we plucked 7 large mouth nannygai to 7kg, 3 Spanish mackerel, 3 spangled emperor, 2 big cod, 1 coral trout, 1 bar cheeked trout, 1 golden trevally, 1 large scaled fingermark, 1 red bass, 2 whaler sharks, 3 chinaman fish, 1 grassy sweetlip and 2 barracuda. My hands were absolutely burning by the end of the session but they were accompanied by a huge smile that lasted the entire day.

Looking ahead, the July tides indicate that the afternoon reef fishing should be most productive with a bit more momentum on the turns. This may mean changing your routine and leaving port to go fishing around midday and getting home late in the afternoon. Whilst out at your desired location it will pay dividends to cruise around for awhile and establish which way the current is running and where the baitfish are holding on each reef structure. If you find the bait in good numbers then you should find the fish. The final trick is to battle with the southeasterly winds and pick a day or two when the wind is least. Days leading into the new and full moon should offer the best action so fish hard on the turn of the tide.

Inshore barra have been harder to come by recently and I think this will continue in July. At this time of year the normal ratio of legal-sized barra to under-sized is 1:6. The bigger fish tend to find a nice big log and sit under it, however dangling a live prawn or sardine in front of the barra’s nose could entice a strike.

There is still some great action in our rivers and creeks with solid mangrove jack, fingermark, queenfish and trevally enjoying the spoils of having a lot of fresh new bait around.

For the bread and butter angler some thumping bream have been going around the harbour pylons with the cooler weather and there’s the odd grunter pushing the 50cm mark across the mangrove flats.

Now is the time on the beaches to drop down to a light 2-4kg spinning rig and go and chase some flathead, whiting, trevally and dart on calm days. Concentrate your efforts in the cleaner water where there is an adjacent deep gutter and start fishing on the top of the tide and work these sections as the water starts to fall. I like to use a light running sinker rig with a quality peeled prawn but anglers have reported tremendous success with the soft plastic range. In this instance downsizing your lure selection is better as these predators wait for the small baitfish to come their way with the outgoing tide.

Bright sunshine, golden beaches, blue water and a stunning mountainous back drop - what a magical way to spend your valuable fishing leisure time. When one season closes another opens and brings along a whole new kettle of fish. That’s why fishing in the tropics is so good!

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