Do as the Romans do!
  |  First Published: July 2003

ACCORDING to the moons, your best bets if visiting this area lie around the middle or towards the end of the month. Most of the locals will concentrate their efforts around this period.

Weather pending, the waters really start to ripen and become so crystal clear that you can see for metres down below. For example, if you fish a 10m shallow bommie you can literally see the coral trout home in on your bait – there’s no need to feel for the bite! When in deeper water you may have a floating pilchard 15m deep and see the dark shape of a pelagic slash through, engulfing a silver speckle down below. In the rivers it is common to see schools of trevally and queenfish cruise through right beneath you.

In such prime conditions it’s vital that you disguise your presentations to a bare minimum. Downsize your terminal tackle and go lighter if necessary. The fish on these picture postcard days can be so selective that any obtrusive gear may shy them away.

On the beaches, fish very light for whiting, dart, queenfish and trevally. At our estuary and river mouths, use nothing heavier than 6kg line. Around our local islands and headlands it would be an overkill with anything more than an 8kg line. On the reef, 80lb line is pretty much mandatory all year round, but hook and sinker size should be kept to a minimum when the tides and currents allow. In the light game scene, 10–15kg will definitely handle most adversaries, including sailfish, small black marlin, tuna, mackerel and wahoo.

If catches in July are anything to go by, you should expect the unexpected this month. A known nannygai location has been producing more red emperor than its lesser cousin, known mackerel points are turning up jobfish and various tuna species, and common sailfish holding locations are delivering some classic 300lb black marlin – totally expected so early in the piece. That's the beauty of sitting on the doorstep of such a diverse marine environment – even professional skippers who’ve worked our waters for years cannot truly predict when runs of fish will appear.

Inshore there have been catches of various trevally species, such as the tea-leaf and gold spot, showing up on our doorstep. Our major river entrances have been delivering primed-up golden trevally and the elusive permit (snub-nosed dart), and hopefully will bring up lots of surprises amongst our normal run-of-the-mill queenfish and giant trevally. The school mackerel run is coming much earlier than anticipated, and by July we should be right into this sensational form of fishing along the coastline.

Live bait at this time of the year definitely takes precedence over other means, due to the potential of the water clarity on a string of calm days. Lures, fresh dead baits and the like will only come into their own during a dirty south-easterly blow-up. Fisherman who opt for this type of fishing may outscore others in smatters, but at the end of the month I reckon live bait anglers should be able to boast catches of better quality and size. There are game fishing operators out there already with a livie or two hanging out the back of their boat.

This season is shaping up overall to be another corker so early in the scheme of things – but the fishing can change as quickly as the weather does! Before you hit the water, I recommend that you check out my weekly report at www.fishingmonthly.com.au, and if you have any further questions you can give me a call.

1) Port Douglas local Jill with a cranking coral trout caught with the help of some local knowledge.

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