Awesome October action!
  |  First Published: October 2004

AFTER the depths of winter in the tropics, October is the month when there's just not enough spare time in just four weeks to jam everything in. We've gone from moderate temperatures in the rivers and lake, making it hard work to catch an occasional fish, to when the grass starts to dry off from that extra blast of heat in the sun – then you know that it's time to get away from work early and go fishing.

If you were to break down October and try and fit all your plans into one month, you’d have a dilemma! I sat down with some friends the other night over a few drinks and laughed at how it all happens during this month.

The first week of October will see neap tides before the new moon on the 14th. These neaps will definitely be a good time to target barramundi around the wave wall at the Raddison in the main part of Cairns, as well as soak a large live mullet on the boom out from the hospital. The neaps in October should also see some big fingermark move in from the ocean around the deep water in front of the sugar terminal as well as Tropical Slipway.

I have also caught some big king salmon on these tides in front of the sugar terminal on live mud herring at this time of year. Undoubtedly the best time for big fingermark in the Cairns Inlet is Melbourne Cup week in November.

The second week leading up to the new moon on the 14th would be a good time to chase some of those huge mackerel on the morning high tide at the Franklins, High Island, Fitzroy and King's Point – spots that also produce fingermark. There will be plenty of island sardines around as this time of year they spawn at these spots. The trick is to fish them live on the darkest of nights. Squid will also be abundant and hopefully we'll have some light northerlies and warmer nights.

The third week of October will roll back to neaps again and see you back at deep water locations during the day and fishing the structures such as piers, wharves and pylons at night. If your second week of October didn't produce the goods in Cairns, look at other areas such as the ballast heap in the Daintree, Mourilyan Harbour around the sugar jetty. Also on these neaps, trolling at the mouths on the last of the run-in tide will be a chance for a big fish before spawning and the closure in November.

The last week and the full moon on October 28 will be possibly the most hectic, with some big grunter being caught wide of the Cairns flats, past the turning leads and wide of the Little Barron River. Fish the last couple of hours of the morning run-in tide, double anchoring and fishing a brace of rods with long traces. Some best baits are mullet and garfish fillets, but the pick for me is a large squid bait on a small 2/0 hook, and let the fish swallow it right down and hook himself.

The big tides before the barra closure will see a lot of people go to Bathurst Heads for a last crack at it. This spot can be awesome if the fish are moving along the coast into Princess Charlotte Bay.

This year’s Barra Bash is being held on the 30th and 31st, with an estimated $75,000 in prizes, and only up the hill from Cairns. If you take an entry form in this year's comp you have a chance at winning a $55,000 boat package. When you consider a couple of hundred anglers fished in last year's comp, the odds are better than an Art Union ticket!

This tournament is a credit to the Tinaroo Fish Stocking Association and all the volunteers who give their time to produce such a great fishery for Cairns people and tourists. The Barra Bash is a reflection of this commitment and it's great to see families on the water having fun. Hope to see you there!


1) The author weightlifting a hefty night-caught barra. Now’s the time to target these fish, before the closed season commences in November.

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