Tropical treats
  |  First Published: October 2005

October is definitely the best month to target our tropical fish both inshore and offshore. The weather is normally predictable and perfectly suited to boating.

There will be a combination of summer and winter species actively feeding in our rivers and estuaries. Some of the more notable species on offer will be barramundi, mangrove jack, fingermark, queenfish, giant and golden trevally and grunter. School mackerel should be found around the surrounding headlands and inshore reefs.

A lot of these fish also feed along our local beaches, so they are definitely worth a look. At this time of year, it can be a lottery draw as to what you find on the end of your line.

Now that we’ve left winter behind, livebaits and lure presentations will be taken more readily by most fish, especially barramundi, which are looking to fatten up quickly after their winter slumber in preparation for the spawning season.

At the time of writing, the water temperature has started peaking at around 25-26 degrees and this is a natural signal for the barra, fingermark and mangrove jack to switch on and start feeding. Hotspots will include feeder creeks, deep banks with snags and flats bordered by mangroves along the coast. Fishing the new and full moon phases will be necessary to succeed and don’t forget that the barra season closes at the end of the month.

Catches of pelagic species such as queenfish, trevally and school mackerel have been sporadic over winter, mainly due to inclement weather. However, the calmer October conditions will allow the small boat brigade to fully explore the coast in pursuit of some light tackle sportfishing. Trolling flashy lures around and casting into nervous bait schools with metal slices should be a winning formula. Big live sardines under a float should also prove too tempting for these fish to pass up.

The reef fishing season has been very consistent when the weather has allowed, with good catches of coral trout (averaging 3-4kg), small mouth nannygai, smaller red emperor, spangled emperor, Moses perch and some very impressive Spanish mackerel. The best catch I heard of was by Darren Barnes of Port Douglas, who nailed a 37kg Spaniard off a reef adjacent to Cairns. The reef scene should continue to fire, but might begin to slow a tad at the end of the month as the weather warms up. When this happens, try fishing deeper water in order to continue catching fish.

October is the prime time to chase down a big black marlin. Smaller specimens to 300lb have been around but the big females are due to arrive, firstly up at the Ribbon Reefs off Lizard Island and later in the month further south at Agincourt Reefs, Opal Ridge and Linden Bank.

Other expected by-catches should include wahoo, dogtooth tuna and yellowfin tuna. The light tackle season has been hampered by bad weather this year and the game fishing fleets are likely to take full advantage of the heavy tackle season, which normally lasts up to the Christmas period.

The month ahead looks very promising no matter which rod you pick up. Bring it on!

Coral trout have been abundant this year and local AFL footballer Matt Jarvis was pretty happy with this solid fish.

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