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  |  First Published: May 2004

FOR MANY anglers the Easter period was a fizzer, with fresh south-easterlies and rolling rain squalls. Bluewater assaults have been rare due to the winds, and many fishers have been focusing their efforts in the rivers and creeks with varying results.

A group of us persisted through the long weekend, camping up near the Daintree River. We were often beaten around the ears by the wind and the rain, but we did manage to source some good fishing. In fact, all we caught were barramundi!

Concentrating efforts with livebait at the cane paddock run-offs, and slowly trolling gold Bombers and Willo lures along the weed beds in the upper reaches, produced some great moments. We caught five legal barra and dropped several during the fight. All ranged between 60 and 66cm, and these young stallions certainly knew how to put on a spectacle on top of the water.

The barra should still be active until at least the end of the month in this system. Mid-afternoon is the best time – particularly when the sun is out, encouraging the fish to be more active. Fishing the last two hours of the run-out tide has its merits as well. The barra will be a little slower this month, but they will be keen to get in some extra feeds before they shut down for winter. Once we get that first overnight cold snap later in the month it will be harder to source these fish.

As the barra fishing phases out, the locals get into the Spanish mackerel. The Spaniards arrived at our prominent inshore locations in early April and have been caught in buckling sizes. In calm weather, good locations for the small boat brigade include Snapper Island and Cape Kimberley. For the offshore troops, Satellite, Skinny and the tip of Tongue Reef normally have a solid run of Spaniards. A couple of years ago the mackerel were in plague proportions at these locations, and it all started in May. A pilchard on a set of ganged hooks is always a winner, but if you like trolling make sure you have a 190D Crazy Deep Halco in gold/black or orange/white. These lures get down to 7m and are sensational on the mackerel and whatever else may be lurking, such as a cranking giant trevally, talang queenfish or bluefin tuna.

Cape Kimberley headland, the Daintree and Mowbray River mouths will be worth sourcing for queenfish this month on calm incoming tides, particularly in the morning. Live sardines or herring are dynamite as they wallow aimlessly in the current connected to a 3/0 hook under a light running sinker rig. On 6kg line these fish are as much fun as you can have with your pants on as they cartwheel across the water.

The reef fishing scene gets into full swing in May. Coral trout should be easier to snare in the shallows, and deep reef edges and bommies should be consistently holding a variety of goodies including red and spangled emperor, nannygai, gold-spot trevally and more.

There have already been some catches of sailfish, and Pixie Reef has been providing most of the action. Thrown in with some cranking mackerel, you’re looking at an enjoyable day on light stand-up gear.

1) Barra should still be active for most of May. After the first cold snap they’ll be harder to catch.

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