GTs rule!
  |  First Published: May 2004

MAY follows one of the best wet seasons we’ve had here in Cairns for years, and it promises to deliver good fishing throughout the year and beyond. The constant rainy weather of recent months has been replaced by some typically beautiful postcard wet season run-off days here in the tropics. Tradewind southeasters have set in, marking a change of seasons as we bid farewell to the steamy summery conditions.


The local rivers and streams have all cleared, with water levels returning to normal, and there have been some hot fishing sessions in most of the inshore systems. Plenty of small barra have been taken on a variety of artificials and livebaits in the rivers, and occasional bigger barramundi have been caught on the local headlands by lure casters in the calmer mornings and late afternoons. QFM's own Garry Smith managed a nice fish of around 85cm at one of his favourite coastal spots.

Mangrove jacks and fingermark have also been causing quite a few rods to bend among the snags and deeper gutters of the estuaries, while out on the flats there have been some nice grunter taken on the bigger tides.


There have been many windy days recently, but when it has been calm enough bottom fishing has produced coral trout in about 30m and a mixed bag of red, spangled and red-throat emperor.

There are plenty of mackerel around and this should continue throughout the next few months. Still one of the most reliable methods is to use the standard pillie rig. Kerry Bailey reports that on one day the mackos wouldn't even touch livies that were set for them, yet as soon as pillies were presented they were snaffled down like jellybeans. Most of the Spaniards are in the 7-10kg range with the occasional horse amongst the pack. Wreck fishing has also been hot, with plenty of trevally (bludgers and tealeaf) as well as barracuda and cobias.

GT Time

The clearing rivers after all the rain have also been a playground for many GTs (great or giant trevally). At this time of the year the GTs can be taken with ease on dead- and livebaits as well as a variety of artificials. Most of these fish are what we call 'school size' fish (around 1kg) and are great fun on light tackle spin outfits. These hard fighting juveniles are well known for their determination, and have firm, sweet, flaky white meat which goes a treat on a barby. I recommend these fish to any seafood connoisseur. Larger GTs are a different story, and most trevally come under the general heading of 'mother-in-law fish'.

The surprise element when fishing for GTs is that, lurking in the not-too-distant background, there are often massive adults ready to eat anything that comes their way. I’m talking about GTs in the metre-plus range that can spool the most experienced angler. Hooking up to one of these freight trains is an incredible experience, let alone on light tackle estuary gear (4-6kg). Imagine you have just placed your hook on the rear bumper bar of a V8 commodore in front of you at the traffic lights. The V8 puts the foot down and you stay where you are watching your line disappear rapidly off the spool! Usually you have to be very quick thinking and mobile to stay connected to a large GT in these circumstances. You need a fair sprinkling of Irish luck as well.

An estuary scenario is different from hooking up in the deep blue sea, although out there you do have wrecks and reefs to worry about. Quite often when inshore your line will get busted off on something like a log or tree, or you’ll have a very long chase as you try to retrieve your line. I remember occasions when GTs took us out through the heads and several kilometres down the coast as we tried to stay connected to a potential record fish. Recently Kerry Bailey was fishing the Mulgrave River with some clients and one of his anglers, Matt from England, had this very experience. When you throw an inexperienced angler into the equation it makes for a very interesting capture. Matt didn't really know what to expect as the big fish sped off, and nearly an hour later he was in a state of shock as he stared down at the fish of a lifetime. This is a very creditable capture and even nicer that the fish was released after the mandatory happy angler pics. He’ll remember the experience for a long time when he recounts the story to his friends back in England.

Till next month, hope you get amongst the GTs.

1) Matt from England was pleased as punch with his first ever GT taken recently on the Mulgrave River using light spin gear.

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