Think Cool
  |  First Published: December 2006

As daily temperatures start to soar, now is the time when anglers should start to fish smarter – not harder. It is not much fun being stuck out fishing in the heat of the day when the fish are at their least active. If you concentrate your efforts from dawn to mid-morning and from mid-afternoon till dusk or later, your results will be much better and you’ll be much more comfortable.

What’s been happening

The marlin season got off to a slow start this year with the Cairns and Lizard Island tournaments producing fewer catches than previous years. None of the 15 boats in the Lizard Island tournament managed to tag a marlin over the week-long competition which gives some indication of how hard the slog was. Even thought the quantity of fish was lower, the quality was excellent with quite a few encounters recorded with 1000lb+ marlin.

Skippers and crews believe the very windy conditions and lower than normal water temperatures during the October probably saw most marlin cruising well offshore where temperatures were higher. However, December is still the prime time to score a grander and water temperatures will have improved.

Even though the marlin have been spasmodic, the same can’t be said about wahoo and dolphinfish. With many boats reverting back to light tackle to see some action, these pelagics have certainly added great value when the going has been tough.

The reef fishing has continued to impress at various times between the reef closures, which occur at this time of year around the new moon. Large mouth nannygai to 10kg have come on the bite aggressively in 35m+ of water. Spangled emperor, coral trout, trevally and sweetlip have made up the remainder of catches. Again, Spanish mackerel catches have remained minimal and it seems we will not see much from them this calendar year. For whatever reason there has been a distinct lack of bait, tuna and pelagic activity around our outer reef systems this year and no one knows why.

The hot news on our inshore coastal fishery has been the meetings conducted up and down the coast by the DPI&F. In Port Douglas many voiced their strong concerns over the commercial netting occurring near Snapper Island, a known breeding ground for grey mackerel. Southern netters are being forced out of their own areas and now target our local waters. Our little fishery has seen up to a 600% increase in netting pressure in the last few years! This cannot be sustainable and locals have stressed to the DPI&F that this issue needs to be addressed immediately. It’s like trying to plug a water barrel that has 100 holes with only 50 corks – once you fix one problem, another springs a leak. It appears that the re-zoning of the reef and the closures of seine netting for spotted mackerel in recent years has caused extra pressure on other resources, such as our local grey mackerel fishery.

In our river and creeks, reports have been mixed depending on whom you bump into. The successful anglers are claiming good catches of mangrove jack amongst their secret snags drifting unweighted pilchard baits amongst the timber – and then hanging on for dear life. The average punter has been quite content with quality catches of bream and grunter, which seem to be around in good numbers. Actually the Daintree River has been impressive for grunter to 60cm and as one guide said to me, “if the grunter I’ve being catching were barra, they’d be legal!” 

Till next year be sure to fish the low light periods and I hope you have a happy Christmas and a charged up New Year.

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