Diversifying options in October
  |  First Published: October 2006

Following the late and great wet season experienced in TNQ, the fishing has remained first class throughout winter and into spring. Even so, there have been times when gathering a feed has been more difficult than usual.

Up and down water temperatures, lower than usual tidal influence (due to winds blowing Gulf waters westward) and moderate to strong easterly winds have kept the estuary fishing sporadic.

Then as water temperatures become consistently warmer in mid-September, some memorable days casting lures at hungry barra, king salmon and mangrove jack will be recorded.

Now is anglers’ last chance to get stuck into some serious barra sessions before the closed season begins at lunchtime on 30 September. An early closed season for barra in the Gulf means spawning populations of barramundi will be protected until late in January 2007. These measures will ensure top-class barra fishing remains that way for years to come.

Good policy directed at both the recreational and commercial fisherman is crucial in maintaining healthy stocks of fish, even in the more isolated areas of the state. Over the coming months, serious anglers will have to endure more than just searing heat to catch a feed. They will have to diversify their catch to target species other than barra until the season re-opens.

Although barra will be a by-catch in the estuaries in October, we must take precautions to ensure all hooked fish are returned unharmed to the water. Filed or crimped barbs should be mandatory and the whole process of being hooked and released made as easy as possible for fish.

October is traditionally the month when water temperatures warm rapidly, with the west coast of the Cape turning into a sauna. Humidity will be on the increase as bands or pre-monsoonal clouds begin drifting over land.

Searing temperatures this time of year are responsible for triggering both spawning and feeding events in tropical fish. Mangrove jack, threadfin salmon, barramundi, queenfish and trevally are just some of the species that will come alive in the estuaries. Any prawns, crabs or baitfish hapless enough to find themselves alone in the open don’t stand much chance of survival.

Just to the north of Aurukun are numerous patches of rock and reef adjoining the coast and headlands. These and other areas of reef and rubble lying just offshore support a fantastic range of fish species.

Trolling, casting lures and soft plastics, jigging and bottom bouncing are all viable ways of catching fish in these areas. October will provide ample opportunities to get out and explore some new grounds and trial those techniques you’ve been awaiting smooth conditions for.

Over the coming months, anglers need to concentrate their efforts at key times of the day and tide to maximise results. Spending eight hours trialling one location after another is best left for cooler times of the year. The hours surrounding dawn, dusk and the bottom of the tide will be the best times to concentrate your efforts.

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