July is very much in the hands of the weather gods in the Cairns area.
Conditions can vary from picture perfect, balmy TNQ days to howling gales when the high pressure systems line up one behind another. When the wind blows the fishing will be lean but in the magic windows between the highs the fish and anglers will really come out to play.
Coral trout are starting to fatten up ready for spawning and can be a major player on the reef front, in the shallow water. In the deeper water, small and large mouth nannygai, red emperor, rosy jobfish and spangled emperor are usually around in the 40m+ depths.
A combination of squid and pilchard always works well on both the reds and trout. If you head to the reef with a 2kg box of squid and a 2kg box of pilchards for every 2-3 anglers you can’t go too wrong. A great trick one of my mates John Wedrat uses to carry extra blocks of bait without wasting it is to wrap the block in numerous layers of newspaper and then sealing it in a plastic bag. If it isn’t needed it will stay frozen solid in the esky and be good for the next reef trip.
With the building tides on the second weekend in July the estuary fishing should pick up, and targeting grunter on fresh mullet slabs or fingermark on live sardines or prawns should produce some good results. Bream will keep the bread and butter enthusiasts happy with plenty of numbers around the harbour pylons, rubble areas and rock walls.
Barra are still around, though often a bit sluggish. Live prawns fished right in the snags or even a slab bait like mullet should land the odd pink eye. Any spell of calm clear days is ideal to turn your thoughts to barra and is a great time to flick a lure around the estuary snags or up in the fresh water. Bite time can move to the warmer part of the day in winter, so keep this in mind when planning an outing.
Provided there hasn’t been a really cold snap, mud crabs should be around in the second week in July. The lead up to the full moon is always a top time to chase these delicious crustaceans. Prawns often feature in reports around July and it’s always worth a shot or two with the cast net around the mud banks and creek mouths, especially after the great wet season we had early this year.
Pelagics will be in full cry in July, with Spaniards the trophy target. Golden trevally and school mackerel are also gathering around the numerous inshore wrecks. Plenty of Spanish mackerel usually haunt the reef edges and pinnacles, and will often take a floated pilchard while bottom fishing. Trolling rigged garfish will also produce good numbers of Spaniards on top of the pinnacles. Look for any bommie surrounded by deep water, a good current and schools of bait and you can almost bet that Spaniards will be patrolling. Most of the Spaniards will run around the 6-10kg range but the bigger fish are around and are best targeted with livebait or large trolled baits such as wolf herring or even small doggie mackerel. A legal-sized doggie is not too big for a 50lb plus Spaniard.
Doggie mackerel are a favourite inshore target in July, with the weekend of 22nd and 23rd July, just before the new moon, a great time to put them on the wanted list. The morning high tide will probably be calmer but the larger run on the evening high tide would be a better bet. Casting high speed jigs around the local inshore wrecks is always worth a go and will often turn up some bigger speedsters like golden trevally and GTs. The 4.5 gold Bumpa Bar metal jig, retrieved fast, has been producing great results over recent winters.
Queenfish and GTs are often hanging around the estuary mouths in July. Doing a double header of chasing queenies and GTs around the river mouths, while also looking for wolf herring for Spaniard baits is a great way to spend a windy weekend when you are prevented from venturing out into the blue water.
All up there is plenty to do on the piscatorial front in July. It’s just a matter of working around the weather and making good use of the calm weather windows when they come along.Reads: 551