Anglers turn to muddies in tough times
  |  First Published: September 2005

This month we will hopefully shrug off the appalling dry season weather we have been experiencing this year. Rough days at sea, strong winds and a cool climate have somewhat inhibited the fishing opportunities over the last couple of months.

This has consequently kept fishing reports to a minimum for the tropics, which is not normally the case at this time of year. During these hard times the rivers and creeks in Port Douglas have been a safe haven for anglers and boaties. The bream reports are quite impressive with sessions of 20 or more bream up to a very respectable 37cm. They are certainly one species that have delighted anglers in the adverse conditions.

In between there has been a smattering of trevally, medium-sized queenfish, grunter, smaller fingermark and the occasional jack. A few rat barra have been snared amongst the snags, but most of the time they have only just been legal size. These catches have corresponded with a bit of sun on the water and the barra have generally been more active in the afternoon once the water temperature has risen slightly.

One of our tropical delights, the mud crab, has absolutely shone locally. The dirty conditions have made them confident enough to travel extensively and the high tides have seen them caught in good numbers along the coastline mangrove flats and right up into the deeper sections of our estuaries and creeks. When the weather has turned pear shaped, these muddies have been a saviour for many.

On its better days, the Daintree River a bit further north has produced some big queenfish in the channel, along with some highly sought-after golden trevally, which are known to swing in and out of this system at this time of year. Once we receive consistently calm, warm days, the waters will clear perfectly and this location will offer much bigger and better results. In September, the adjacent Snapper Island will also become a hotspot for mackerel, tuna and big queenfish.

Offshore the reports have been good only when the weather has been good, which unfortunately has not happened very often. However, when conditions become ripe there should still be Spanish mackerel schooling inside the outer reef systems, along with skittish bluefin and mack tuna.

Coral trout are always abundant for bottom bouncers during the cooler months and small nannygai catches have occurred for those going a little deeper from the reef edge. Gold spot trevally and the odd big golden trevally have also turned up amongst the nannygai schools.

For those who dabble in a bit of spear fishing, the local inshore reefs are laden with ornate or painted crayfish. They are just another delicacy we can turn to when the fishing is not happening.

Reports of minke and humpback whales have started coming in, particularly from anglers who have been out wider inside the reefs. A local favourite has returned yet again and is the only known albino whale in the world; Migaloo is a big, white humpback whale and apparently has a new partner this year. My last reports have come from between Cape Tribulation and Mackay Reef where they were witnessed breaching freely. This whale and many others will be seen in the triangle from Batt Reef to Mackay Reef and across to Cape Tribulation in the coming weeks. It definitely adds to the experience of being on the water at this time of year.

The first regular catches of small black marlin to 300kg usually occur in late August. Although they are around before then, it is at this time that they start playing the game. By the time you lay eyes on this magazine the action will have heated up ten fold in this department, so if you want to have a go at one of these marlin, it’s time to drop the 15-20kg outfit and up the ante to the 37kg big gun. I hope to have much more on this topic come next month.

Let's hope the weather comes good to allow some beach fishing for trevally, queenfish and some quality flathead and whiting. Until next month, happy fishing.

Painted crayfish a tropical feast. Shane Down ducked over the side of our boat while we were cruising around a local inshore reef on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

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