Aurukun: Adventure Bound
  |  First Published: September 2008

September can be a little unpredictable. Some years it is dominated by wavering southeasterly trade winds, clean water and sunny days, whilst other years anglers complain of cloudy skies, southerly winds and murky water.

However, no matter what is happening with the weather, September is a great time for the locals as it allows them to finally get out and about. The roads are now passable, grass fires have cleared much of the countryside, making the lush banks of lagoons, creeks and rivers stand out that much more. Access to these far off places is difficult to say the least, but a sense of adventure can have you hooked up to saratoga, barra, sooty grunter and archerfish in some of the most remote lagoons and tiny creeks in northern Australia.

We are now coming out of the far northern winter. If you blinked, you might have missed it this far north. Just a couple of cool crisp nights and a little shiver when you put your things on in the morning!

A little warmer change might bring the barra back on the chew after their winter’s slumber. If the estuarine lakes of the area begin to clear, warm up and filter bait once again through their channels, September can be productive. Queenfish, tarpon and milkfish can all be taken on the fly rod in close proximity to each other during these few months. The green waters of the Archer River push huge amounts of food and bait within its now sandy, estuarine course.

Milkfish up to the meter mark have been taken on fly rod on light leaders and tiny, weed-imitating flies. There are plenty of big fish around and all anglers need to do is hold the fly line tight. Next thing you know, the loose fly line tears through the runners and a blistering run ensues. On light fly gear the fight can last 30 minutes or more, as a large milkfish near the boat is more dogged than a tuna, beating that huge forked tail tirelessly. Smaller milkfish are very sleek looking creatures, and catching them at around the 50-70cm mark is great fun and occasionally they will give you surprising bouts of acrobatics.

Tarpon will feed in the same current lines as the milkfish and provide the most thrilling acrobatics of all. Even though they are the much smaller cousins of the tarpon found overseas, a 2kg specimen has just as much chance of getting off! A spin rod sits in the holder with on it. Flicking a little popper on a spin rod and then dancing it back in over the water’s surface is sure to get a tarpon lively.

Although tarpon are brandished with the ‘not-worth-eating’ tag, they do make surprisingly good crab bait. Occasionally, tarpon injure themselves with those head-shaking antics, so it is often better to keep it for crab bait than release it back to die soon after.

Besides all the normal estuarine species a few notable exceptions may begin tuning up on the reefs to the north. Good-sized fingermark, mangrove jack and coral trout can all be trolled up along the reef edges. Good weather will make all the difference, as does tidal runs and the moon phase. Just coming out of spring tides is often the ideal time to find reef species feeding.

September is a month where you want a bit of run in the tide. Both the rivers and coastline should be clear enough to tolerate some run and still be fishable. An early morning start is your best bet as the wind will be gentle and the fish will be on the chew.

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