All fired up!
  |  First Published: September 2004

WE’VE had a great run of weather lately – something we haven’t enjoyed since the beginning of the year. A fellow fisher pointed out that there were actually only two Saturdays up until the start of August where you could make a trip to the reef. As you can imagine, the local punters, who have been champing at the bit, have been making the most of the good weather.


The fishing has been a tad quieter in the creeks and rivers with solid bream, grunter and smaller mangrove jack being the only interested parties for most of the cooler months. However, as I write, the barramundi have awoken from their slumber and are quite active on the warmer days. By September they will be super-keen amongst the snags and deeper holes. September and October can see the most consistent barramundi fishing to be had due to the predictable conditions leading up to the wet season.

You can also expect fingermark to make an impression in the deeper holes this month, and the queenfish and trevally will be working hard up and down the channels and gutters. Lurefishing will improve dramatically, although there is no substitute for a live sardine, herring or mullet on the end of your line.

Along the beaches, whiting have been sensational on the early morning tides for anglers using peeled prawns. In the afternoons there have been some cranking queenfish shattering the water’s surface as they crash into bait schools. A live garfish is your best bet to go head to head with one of these screamers. Alternatively, you can use small metal slices 15-20g to get into the smaller trevally and queenfish which are also quite active. They are best targeted across the bays and flats on the first of the incoming tides. The full part of the incoming tide is when you want to swap to a big livebait for the bigger variety.

Moving to river mouths (the Daintree River in particular), the fishing is good on the neap tides for spotted mackerel, queenfish and giant and golden trevally. Live sardines are by far the most productive bait. As the tides pick up around the new and full moon, move to greener pastures just wider. In the lure stakes, 30-40g Bumpa Bar lures, 3-4 inch white skirts and Halco 190D lures in gold or red and white have been top trolling apparatus.

Overall, August come September is the best time of year for coastal fishing chasing down our big pelagics.


The fishing offshore has been awesome, particularly in the reef fishing stakes. All our renowned species are currently biting freely and there has been a mixed catch to boot. Tides have been ripping but so have the fish. Red emperor, large- and small-mouth nannygai, coral trout, reef mangrove jack, cobia, gold-spot trevally and Spanish mackerel have been on fire. Despite some re-adjusting due to the new green zones imposed by GBRMPA, the charters and locals have still enjoyed great success. September will also offer similar results as the reef fishing scene experiences its last peak month before very slowly tapering off with the warmer weather towards the end of the month.

If it’s excitement you want, the Port Douglas region is bursting with light game adrenalin. Most charter boats are guaranteeing 5-8 shots a day at juvenile black marlin, the odd sailfish and a score of solid Spanish mackerel. Trolled garfish have been the flavour of the month, enticing most of the hot bites. This exhilarating style of fishing will only improve in September as the fish get bigger and the guys start considering pulling out the heavy tackle gear. Burning wahoo and yellowfin tuna will also really add some serious bite to this situation. Some skippers are saying the action has been some of the best they have seen in recent years. They are predicting a top season ahead for the heavy tackle season due to the amount of early activity.

If I had to chose a month or two out the year to seriously fish the Port Douglas region it would definitely be August and September. The weather is superb and all tropical fish species are on the go, big and small.


1) The reef fishing has exploded with all our prized species, including this mackerel and cobia taken from MV Doreen Too charters.

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