Barra Boost for Wet
  |  First Published: March 2009

The unpredictable nature of summer in the tropics continues here in Cairns. We are again getting set for more heavy rains and possible storm activity following a drying out period that lasted a couple of weeks.

The recent calm weather has been great. It has provided fine and flat conditions for those heading out to chase the waiting coral trout on all of the near inshore reefs. The trout have been biting well with some quality fish taken and most have fallen to the tried-and-true techniques of lightly waited pilchard fished mostly in the shallows up to 25m.

Anglers chasing reef fillets have also picked up the usual by-catch of sweetlip varieties and of course a few reef jacks, cod, jobfish and sharks. Around the wrecks there have been plenty of trevally about, along with a few cobia and large barracudas.

The storms at night have still made evening and night trips a risky proposition, however, there have been good reports of nannygai and red emperors in the deeper water for those who braved it. Fishing the deepwater rubble patches wide of the reefs through the daylight has still been worthwhile with enough nannygai to keep most anglers interested.

The bonus aspect of offshore fishing recently has been the number of big Spaniards around. These quality mackerel have been taken on a variety of the usual drift baits, such as pillies and live fusiliers, as well as on trolled lures and rigged baits, such as gar and wolf herring. The approaching cooler water temperatures that will be around should ensure that the mackerel run is sustained throughout the coming months as bait schools build up.

It wouldn’t be the wet season in Cairns without the regular morning sight of cast netters working the water edge along the esplanade on a morning high tide. The Cairns estuary has been alive lately with quality prawns and is a regular morning activity for some of the local hardcore cast netters chasing themselves a bucket of prawns.

April is usually a top month for inshore fishers who work the local rivers and estuaries. There is always plenty of action available for lure and flyfishers, as well as those choosing to soak a live bait.

Inshore fishing in the rivers has been quite good with lure casters pinning some nice barras and the odd jack, with the best action on the bottom half of the tide. April still remains a top month for barra fishing and last month I recommended working the headlands for the barra and quite a few good ones were captured up to a metre in length.

Chasing these headland fish at Yorkeys, Trinity Beach and further up the coast will be once again a great option throughout the month.

As the wet subsides many barras will move back inside the systems and be found further up the rivers. If you have a small boat, working the small gutters, drains and weed beds with soft plastics and small hardbody lures will be well worth a shot, as will slow trolling the banks and any new snags for the bigger barras.

If you are a bait fisher in the estuary then fingermark are going to be on your shopping list this month, with some beauties up to 85cm being captured recently. Night fishing at this time of year is often the best time for these sought-after fish, and it can be an exciting experience to tangle with these hard-fighting power packs. Watching a large pink coloured fingermark emerge from the depths at night attached to your line is a sight to behold.

There are plenty of prime local spots to try for these special fish, including the deepwater of the Cairns Inlet such as off the sugar terminal and also up stream in the deepwater near the area known as the Bark Hut. Further outside of the inlet system the harbour entrance leads and Kings Point are also worth trying.

Live bait usually brings the best results for fingermark and those who take the time to gather quality bait are usually rewarded. The quarter moons seem to produce better as the fingermark prefer the slower moving tides, however, I have also made excellent catches on the full and new moons right on the top of the tide when the water is slow.

Other options worth exploring this month are in the first week of April, when it will be a good time to chase the big barra up at Lake Tinaroo. With the full moon coming up on the 11th, the lead up to this moon might be the last prime time for quite a few months before the water temperature cools down and slows the barra action during the winter on the dam.

The outcome of a developing low pressure system north of Cairns in March will have a big influence on how April fishes. For now we play a waiting game to see how much more rain we are going to finish up with this summer and whether the creeks get another flushing. Don't put your wet weather gear away just yet. Till next month, good wet season fishing.

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