Perfect winter in paradise
  |  First Published: July 2009

An amazing string of good weather has so far dominated our weather pattern for most of the dry season. Temperatures have been above average and anglers have been presented with ample opportunities to hit the water in calm conditions. It has been years since we have seen such consistent weather.

There has been a lot action offshore recently as favourable conditions have allowed boats of all sizes to hit the blue water. Our inner reefs have been alive with pelagics including tuna, Spanish and spotted mackerel. The Spaniards are averaging a healthy 10kg and there are plump 6-7kg spotted mackerel also being regularly boated. The spotted mackerel pound for pound are awesome sport on lighter gear. Trolling spoons and lures has been the most effective method and working drifted garfish through the water column has also been successful.

As you venture further to the outer reef the Spaniards have remained consistent but you have to also expect to deal with shark mackerel, which have exploded in numbers. Our local barber, Keith Lawrence can vouch for the mackerel action offshore having caught a Spanish at 25kg on a handline, in what was described as an epic battle.

With many good days on offer our light tackle charters in the region have also had great success on the continental shelf hooking into plenty of solid yellowfin tuna up to 20kg. Triple and quadruple hook-ups have been the norm and with birds working the water a sure sign of yellowfin. Now we are seeing more reports of smaller black marlin filtering through the industry in the far north and local crews anticipate more billfish will make an impact during July.

The reef fishing has continued to fire in all departments particularly with the assistance of good weather. Coral trout are biting well in the shallower water with red emperor and large- and small-mouth nannygai still being produced in solid numbers in the deeper water to 40m and more. The nannygai in particular have been ravenous at times and reaching bag limits doesn’t take long when they come on the bite.

These deeper locations have also been subject to a variety of trevally species such as tea-leaf and bludger trevally as well as prolific numbers of spangled emperor. Other species you are likely to come across at this time of year include usual suspects such as sweetlip, stripeys, Moses perch and cod varieties.

Inshore our rivers and estuaries have seen our winter species take over the limelight from our higher profile fish. Popular species like barra, mangrove jack and fingermark have taken a backseat to queenfish, giant trevally and good-sized golden trevally following the main channel on an incoming tide.

Our bigger systems like the Daintree River have also seen school mackerel pass through when the waters are crisp and clean. These fish seem to be more prolific on the neap tides. Using live sardines drifted in the current has accounted for school mackerel and it may pay to use very thin wire leader if you suspect the mackerel are in the area.

Across the flats on this incoming tide grunter, flathead, bream and sicklefish have been active and are partial to fresh strip baits and prawns. Those anglers who are proficient with soft plastics are also having great success in these shallow waters.

If the good weather continues to dominate the weather chart, then 2009 will definitely be a year to remember.

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