Good fishing action continues here in the tropics. April is usually one of the best fishing months on the calendar year and early indications show that this month should be a beauty. Barramundi have been one of the main targets for local inshore anglers and there have been some nice fish captured. One angler who is never far from the action is Babinda fisherman Peter Atwell. Peter has already taken several new season barra with his best at the time of writing being a lure-cast barra, which stretched the tape out to 81cm. This fish was taken on the third cast at a favourite spot in the Russell River.
There should be plenty of smaller barra about in the upper reaches of all local streams, while the usual deeper holes and gutters will produce larger specimens. Fishing with live baits and slow trolling deep diving lures in those deeper spots will produce quality fish this month, particularly on the neap tides. Be sure to release any large barra as they are essential for future stocks.
Fingermark are also going to be on the inshore fishing list this month with reports of quality fish up to 80cm being captured over the last month. Night fishing at this time of year is often the best time for these sought-after fish, and it can be an exciting experience to tangle with these magnificent hard fighting lutjanids. The best times are usually on the smaller tides that occur after the full and new moons.
While anchored up and fishing, hang your squid light over the side of the boat and wait for the squid to appear out of the darkness. Use a fine mesh landing net with a long handle to come in behind the squid, or use a squid spear. Be sure not to wear your best rags, as the black ink that invariably gets jettisoned by this squirmy creature is sure to find its mark on your best clothes.
These baits are best used immediately on about a 6/0 hook on a dropper rig or, if you prefer, a running sinker rig off a metre of heavy mono trace. Use just enough lead to get to the bottom, depending on the current run. The recommended method is to fish your reel in strike drag and get on the job quickly when you get a take, because fingermark are a powerful fish. Fingermark are often found not far away from structure and if you do not get their head up in the initial stages of the fight they have a habit of finding the nearby structure with your line and cutting you off.
Around this neck of the woods it is no surprise to hear that most of the better quality fish have been taken on quality live baits. Whether you are chasing barra or fingermark, take the time to gather quality live bait before the bite is on! The old saying, ‘bigger the bait, bigger the fish caught’ seems to be proven time and time again, and the angler who takes the trouble to gather good bait before the desired fishing time is usually rewarded for his efforts. A rushed fishing trip on the water can very often turn out to be just that - a trip on the water. Sometimes the available time on the water is at a premium and often we have to make do with whatever time we can get. However, the more successful bait fishos spend a huge amount of time on the water and will go to extraordinary lengths to catch the bait desired.
Plan your available time carefully, and work backwards from the time when you want to be fishing! This is used to determine departure time and could mean allowing 2-3 hours for bait collection if the bait is scarce. What it does mean though is that you are fishing during the prime bite time, in the right place with the right bait instead of still chasing your bait while the bite is on and arriving when it is all over.
This is the difference between coming home with fish or without. Planning the trip to coincide with fish activity hours instead of ‘gentleman’s hours’ is another way of finding success.
Bottom fishing has been good with reasonable catches of trickies, coral trout and large-mouth nannygai. Shallower water seems to have been fishing better since conditions have cooled a little. Top water fishing has also been solid with plenty of action from spanish mackerel, northern bluefin tuna and mack tuna as well as the occasional sail and marlin.
This month is also usually a top month for GTs in our rivers and while most fish are often what we call school GTs in the 1-1.5kg size, they are fun to catch and are actually great on the barbie. GTs are a cinch on live bait and take a large variety of lures. Remember there are always a few larger specimens lurking - just make sure your equipment is up to the task.
Quality grunter are also about on the Inlet flats on the bigger tides for those bait fishing anglers seeking a feed. Just to add to the fishing options this month, the small fresh water streams have also been firing for sooty and jungle perch enthusiasts.
Lure casting the rivers and creeks has picked up after a fairly slow start early in the year, due mainly to the lack of rain in February.
This should improve in April as at the time of writing, cyclone Ingrid north of Cairns has just been named. Hopefully we will have some better reports next month as conditions get better with much needed rainfall.
Till next month, see you on the water.Reads: 502