Dry season pelagics
  |  First Published: May 2003

WITH the wet season shaping up to be another non-event, we should see an early arrival of trevally and queenfish in our small rainforest rivers. At dawn in the Daintree, Russel and Johnstone rivers you see fewer boats and some great fishing – especially around the three-day periods before the new and full moons.

On the morning high tides, try popper casting over the shallow sand flats starting around the river mouths – especially if there’s no howling south-easterly. If you have stirred up dirty water, go upstream to find clarity. Around the bottom of the tide, go back and fish the mouth. Even if it’s windy, the water from back upstream will give you clear water later as it moves towards the mouth. Concentrate on deepwater spots.


Just after sunrise, stop and watch for signs of showering bait and chops in the distance. When you’ve found the fish, use a quiet approach by cutting your motor midstream. Take your time and drift along in the current, casting over the flats in a 360 degree spread as you drift. Alternatively, you can anchor right on a sand bar drop-off that drops off from one to two metres down into deeper water. Queenfish and other predators like to wait just over the edge. You can also deploy deeper diving lures for blue and king salmon.


In the dry season some pelagics move right up a river into freshwater, but they’re smaller and are only incidental catches. When you're up a river, a small flick rod with a white Marabou Jig can undo most trevally and tarpon, and the small Prawnstar Shrimp is particularly deadly. Back down at the mouth, my favourite lure is the Yo-Zuri Banana Boat, but most poppers will bring them undone.

The early morning high tide during the dry will see some of the ‘cruiser class’ GTs show up, mostly chasing smaller queenfish and diamond-scale on the flats. A slightly larger popper, around the Cordell Pencil Popper size, can do the trick. You can also try slow trolling a live big trevally or smaller queenfish a long way back, hooking it just through the nose, and slowly motor up and down where you see the showering queenies and explosions. Some of these GT's are so big they should have boat numbers on the sides of them! Most battles usually carry on outside the river mouth as you drift for up to an hour on light tackle.

So there you go – some ideas on what to look forward to during the upcoming dry season.

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