The good, the bad and the ugly
  |  First Published: July 2005

In recent times we've experienced all of the above, but that’s what it’s like in the tropics – especially as the trademark south-easterlies kick in for winter. However, this month I’ll concentrate on the good stuff which has occurred in the small pockets of good weather we’ve had.

On the beaches there has been a run of several species including dart, queenfish, golden trevally, flathead and whiting. On the warmer days there have been catches of barramundi and blue salmon to boot, and the hot spots have included southern Four Mile Beach and Cooya Beach.

At the very southern end of Four Mile Beach, anglers have been greeted with an unusual sight. On low tide the sand flats have been left with acres of potholes where fish have been digging about for food, likely to be the congregation of pipi shells and one-clawed nippers. The fishy culprits are most probably permit, golden trevally and grunter. This scenario has rarely happened to such a degree due to commercial netting. We are into are first year of 'no-nets' at this location and now we have a whole new fishery on the march, which is brilliant to see.

My approach here would be to arrive bright and early in the morning and try a couple of baits on light line. Good baits include sand crabs, which are easily gathered on the water’s edge, fresh quality dead small prawns or a few pipi shells skewered onto a small hook. Presentations would have to be immaculate, but if you could sight the activity first and carefully approach the zone it would be some really exciting fishing in some really skinny water.

In our estuaries the action has slowed, with only the smaller queenfish, bream, hairtail, barracuda, grunter and a few pockets of smaller mangrove jack remaining. We are still waiting for a few more solid trevally to light up the action in these calmer waters in the coming month. However, on the better days our bigger rivers such as the Daintree River mouth have experienced some explosive action on the 1m plus queenfish and golden trevally to 8kg. It definitely has been the pick of locations in the area. Lightly-weighted sardines are the best baits when drifted down in the current on an incoming morning tide.

Inshore reefs have had their moments on the calmer days, with good reports of mack and longtail tuna smashing bait schools on the fringes of reefs in the clean current lines. On top of the reefs fishers have snared their fair share of smaller giant trevally and coral trout as well, mainly using poppers and soft plastics. Hot spots have included Egmont, Wentworth and Cooya Reefs, and the best time has been early in the morning before winds have shut down the fishing.

Offshore, there haven’t been many windows of opportunity to spend a full comfortable day on the reef. Overnight reef trips, when the weather has permitted them, have scored well on the small-mouth and large-mouth nannygai, and during the day there have been consistent catches of coral trout, Spanish flag, Moses perch and a few Spanish mackerel taken on floating pilchards out in the deeper water. The bottom of the tide has been the pick at many locations for a reef fish.

For the light game enthusiasts on their formula one vessels, the fishing has varied from quiet to explosive. Spanish mackerel have been regular catches on the better days, with a yellowfin tuna a bonus, giant trevally a rewarding challenge and the stinking old barracuda ruining a well presented garfish bait. The gamefishing fleet hasn’t been able to explore most options lately, due to weather constraints, but they have still been fishing the paddocks and that has produced reasonably to date.

I recently spent an enjoyable day at the XXXX Gold Beer Adrenalin promotion, where they rewarded punters from all over the country with a trip to Port Douglas to enjoy a week of sizzling action including snorkelling, off-road buggy racing, golf and gamefishing. I worked as deckie aboard Kamari on one particular day where they hired four game vessels, and I had the privilege of fishing with cricketer Andrew Symonds. He loves his fishing just as much as his cricket, and I also met Jacko from the legendary beer ads. No, 'Marlin' is not his own dog but geez, this is one guy who loves a beer and his fishing as well.

The four other winning punters aboard my vessel from Goulburn in NSW were absolute troopers who had never been on anything more than a tinnie. A great time was had by all.

Till next month, expect much the same in July and make hay while the sun shines and the weather is calm. All guns on all fronts will fire when this happens!


1) Shane Down with an impressive Spanish mackerel. These fish have been consistent at this size in the first stages of the cooler months.

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