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Barra to billfish
  |  First Published: October 2004



THE WARM days and clear skies of October should dramatically increase encounters with many old summer favourites that have remained elusive over past months. From the spectacular black marlin to the mighty barramundi, there will be plenty of options this month to keep rods bent and reels screaming.

Estuaries

Encounters with the highly-prized barramundi have significantly increased over recent weeks, with most local river systems worthy of investigation. Reports suggest that rising water temperatures have resulted in barra moving away from the snags, with the majority of fish being taken along the edges of sandbars, rockbars and rocky headlands. October will see local barra populations recover from their annual dose of lockjaw and begin to chew like crazy in anticipation of the approaching wet season and associated spawning run.

Live mullet and prawns should prove devastating when fished along known feeding areas. Be sure to try the rockbars in the Haughton and Bohle rivers, as these are regular ambush and rest stops for fish in transit. Also check out any river junctions like that found in the Ross River alongside the Army barges. These junctions are often referred to as ‘three-ways’ and consist of gouged holes surrounded by sand mounds which create numerous back eddies, which are productive feeding areas. Lurecasters will find shallow divers and soft plastics extremely effective when fishing various gutters as they drain on the run-out tide. These are perfect ambush sites for hungry barra, and provide easy fishing for the stealthy angler. Get in quickly as the barra season closes at midday on November 1.

Anglers fishing the Haughton River rockbars during October should also expect the occasional bust-up, as big mangrove jacks and fingermark frequent these prime ambush sites during the warmer months. Recent reports suggest that Cattle Creek is likely to produce some hot mangrove jack action. My favourite snag-bashing lures for this area are the Killalure Flatz Rat and DK Snagmaster.

Land-based

Arial acrobatics will provide plenty of thrills for anglers fishing the headlands along Pallarenda as schools of big queenfish follow bait aggregations along the coastline. Target these top sportfish with metal slices as they crash panic-stricken baitfish, or float live gar or mullet over the sunken bommies during a rising tide. Expect also to encounter some serious-size barra during October as they actively feed in the shallow warm waters around Cape Pallarenda.

The Strand rock pool and rocky nodes are worth the effort for those hoping to snaffle a few barra before the closed season. Early mornings and late afternoons are the prime times for this area according to the regulars, with big livebaits the secret. To help you get started, try drifting baits or casting lures between the rock wall and the stinger nets.

Inshore

Grey mackerel have arrived as usual around local hotspots such as the Paluma Shoals, Bay Rock and Burdekin Rock areas. Expect also to come across the large schools of mackerel tuna and northern bluefin tuna that frequent Halifax Bay during October. Small metal slices cast and retrieved at super speed should entice even the fussiest pelagic.

Big fingermark are on the move and will be well targeted throughout this month. Wrecks and rubble around Magnetic Island look promising, as does the bommie littered waters surrounding Cape Cleaveland, Twentyfoot and Fourfoot Rocks. Live squid, mullet, and greenback herring fished near the bottom should produce the goods.

Offshore

The Magnetic Island shoals are fishing well for nannygai, coral trout and cobia, although substantial schools of trevally are being reported as unwanted party crashers. Unless you want your arms ripped off, move on to another spot!

Keeper, Lodestone and Davies Reefs continue to yield reasonable coral trout, with the shoals inside Davies Reef the top spot if you’re after some quality reds. Large fresh flesh baits fished near the bottom should yield some quality fish throughout October.

Billfish action is expected to be plentiful this month as the Bowling Green Bay billfish grounds produce some high-flying action. Small black marlin and sailfish in the 40-100kg class should keep the gamefishing enthusiasts occupied.

Good fishing!

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