December in the tropics… it may be hot, but the fishing can hot up too, particularly closer to shore.
I’m anticipating a typical build-up to our wet season – searing temperatures, oppressive humidity and a series of moderate to heavy rainfalls and electrical storms. There's no sight better than the lightning cracking over the cane fields, as they say. The conditions at this time of year aren’t everyone's cup of tea, but for the avid inshore fisherman there are plenty of opportunities to do quite well.
Sudden bursts of solid rain can flush many of our bait supplies right out of their water systems and along our headlands and foreshores. It can also ignite a hatching of jelly prawns, which is a godsend – especially for the beach fishing fly enthusiast. Mangrove edges and flats running adjacent to river or creek mouths along the foreshore are also prime locations to source plenty of piscatorial activity. I'm expecting queenfish, trevally species, tarpon, blue salmon, giant herring and mangrove jack to be in full flight at these locations in December. In the surprise package, cobia and massive GTs may manage to find the end of your line as well. Approaching moons normally produce better results, but on the neap tides if the bait is there the predators will be too, and many of my better experiences have occurred during these phases.
Along the beaches, fly fishermen should use small Crazy Charlies, Clousers or Deceivers in silver, white and chartreuse colours. Lure fishermen along the beaches are better off using small slices such as the Raider brand, or Bumpa Bar lures around 15g, which should be retrieved quickly. If you’re lure fishing a mangrove-lined foreshore, use the old Gold Bomber or 3-4” lures such Mad Mullets or Flatz Rats. Experiment with small poppers along the mangroves. Trevally, when they’re on, love these presentations when they work the foreshore on a rising tide.
Along the major headlands and bit further out, such as around Snapper Island, I'd be watching for further tuna activity including northern bluefin and mack tuna. The build-up to the wet season is their starting call to come closer to shore and feed on the thick bait supply. Sliced lures around 15-20g and poppers work well when cast from a distance into a frenzied feeding school. Amongst the boil you’ll sometimes connect to GTs, big queenfish, cale cale trevally and broad-barred mackerel which add some serious fun. Go light gear such as 4-6kg spin outfits. It’s a whole lot of fun !
In recent times I've had a busy schedule including fishing Hinchinbrook Island for a week and participating in the Tinaroo Barra Bash. Hinchinbrook proved everything it promised to be. Aboard a Lazy Croc houseboat from Lucinda we hooked into over 20 species for the week. Amongst barramundi, queenfish, giant trevally, grunter, and blue salmon we tapped into some very solid fingermark. The deeper sections around Haycock Island and The Bluff were brilliant, and it was the live sardine on a run-out tide on dusk or into the night when we produced our best results. The number and size of the fish was the best I've come across for this species. Add to this the stunning surrounds of the island and the endless maze of rivers and creeks, Hinchinbrook deserves every accolade it receives as a fishery. It is a Queensland gem, that's for sure, and a must-visit destination.
The 2004 Tinaroo Barra Bash held at the end of October was another brilliant experience. I'd fished Tinaroo previously on several occasions but it was my first Barra Bash. Punters came from all directions to chance their luck. With 62 barra weighed in at a total of 781.5kg, there were some serious fish pulled in, including the official biggest at 23.5kg gilled and gutted by Stephen Davey.
Our Port Douglas 'Line Burner' team was pipped by 3.5kg with our one registered fish, by the experienced Quay Marine team of Cairns who registered two fish for a total of 24kg. The teams event was just one part of 18 sections in the tournament.
Thousands of people attended the presentation, and it was a brilliant achievement by the organisers to draw such a crowd for a fishing tournament. There was around $100,000 worth of prizes up for grabs, including a $55,000 boat draw sponsored by Rick and the team of Marine Outdoors in Tolga, Atherton. This comp is certainly is one to pencil into next year’s calendar.
Correction: there was a misprint in the photo caption of last month’s Port Douglas report. The fish was not taken aboard Fish 1 Charters, it was taken on the bank in the upper reaches of the Dickson Inlet.
1) Hinchinbrook Island fingermark were the pick of our trip for quantity and size.
2) Damon Gruzdev of 'The Line Burner' team registered this big barra at 23.5kg.Reads: 978