Bring back the biff
  |  First Published: October 2004

‘BRING back the biff’ is the war cry singing from Port Douglas as we enter the prime time of the marlin season.

Leading into October the local crews have been toying with the puppy black marlin up to 500lb but now is the time when the men will be sorted from the boys as the 1000lb variety are due to let rip on our local waters. To date the pastures just wide of Linden Bank are producing the best action, but as the big females juice up for the mating season they will come right in close to the continental shelf and flirt with the frisky young males already present in good numbers.

The whisper around the traps is that game fishing skipper Kim Anderson, based in Cairns, has already been sourcing this beautiful beasts more often than not and is on track to win back-to-back titles in the Lizard Island Classic come mid-October. Lizard Island, along with the adjacent Ribbon Reef No. 10, is where the serious action peaks each year in the southern hemisphere. 1000lb fish prowl this neck of the woods, and punters from all over the world flock to Lizard Island for a piece of the action.

Closer to home, John White, local owner and skipper of Kamari Game Fishing, believes the Linden Bank, Opal Ridge and Ribbon Reefs No. 4 and 5 will offer the same sensational fishing this year. The light game scene leading up to the heavy tackle has been more consistent in terms of hot bites, and therefore he’s predicting a hell month ahead on the bluewater highway. Trying to obtain a charter is well-nigh impossible now, as all local boats are booked solidly for the next 30 days or so. The fridges are full of big scaly mackerel baits built up over the light game season and are ready to be slurped down like a jellybean by the big black marlin.


Port Douglas has just come off one of its best ever reef fishing seasons. Accompanied by decent weather, local fishers and charter operators have really nailed the fish this season. The large-mouth nannygai in particular have been sourced in good numbers and also in good sizes. Thumping 8-15kg fish have been the norm rather than the exception.

Coral trout were around throughout the winter months and the reef closures in the coming months will ensure their spawning season is maximised this year. It hasn't been that well advertised, but the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is closed to all reef fishing from October 8-16, November 6-14 and December 6-14. These dates around the new moon have been identified by the experts as the prime times for the breeding cycle of the coral trout, and steps have been taken for the first time to ensure this species will be around in better numbers for a long time to come.

Not all is lost in fishing time because the heavy game season will still go ahead during these periods and the inshore fishing will be definitely heating up further.


To date the local tinnie brigade have been making the most of the spotted mackerel run, especially near Snapper Island. It’s got to the point where reports have been filtered through of 'boat rage', where a dozen boats are working the same water the size of a football field. Trolled lines have been deliberately run over and even boat ramming incidents have occurred. From a distance in my own boat, I watched these lunatics one morning literally fight over the same common ground where the mackerel were sitting. The crew of one vessel actually chased off another boat and tried to mow it down.

I've since learnt that if you have a complaint about another boat in regards to a possible traffic offence you do not go to the local DPI. They have no jurisdiction in this department, so you must take your complaint to the local water police, much the same as if you are in a car.


If you are thinking of targeting a barramundi, October is the best month due to the warmer and more predictable weather conditions. Local rivers and creeks, particularly the Daintree River and Muddy creek, have been experiencing more action as the days warm up. Also, just over the hills at Lake Tinaroo (the home of the largest barramundi) the reports are gradually becoming more substantial.

To date, in both in dam and river scenarios, the shallower waters across the weed beds have seen the bigger barra come out to play in the lazy tropical afternoon sun. Many of these fish have weighed in at 30-40lb.

The old faithful gold Bomber lure used in a twitchy slow motion is kicking butt, according to anglers in the know. If you gauge the barramundi pattern by my pet barra in my backyard pond you can tell they are now quite hungry and have a 'reel' attitude come dinner time, especially leading up to the new or full moon.

October is when all our major players take the field. Marlin and barramundi will be the leaders, followed by a strong host of northern tropical fish. We can expect many heated battles in the coming month and I can't wait for a bit of biff amongst the big boys.


1) This team of visiting punters to Port Douglas certainly enjoyed the nannygai action in recent times.

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