October’s Tropical Fishing Feast
  |  First Published: September 2009

October is always one of my favourite months on the tropical fishing calendar.

Usually you can guarantee a good spell of calm weather that delivers plenty of fishing opportunities without the discomfort that can accompany those killer hot days when fishing in December and January. During October there are so many fishing options from the tiny freshwater streams down through the rivers into the salt and then everything in between and out to the reefs. In addition the barramundi fishing in the freshwater impoundments is also at its prime right now.

Some days it is difficult to make up your mind about which fishing expedition to plan and go on. This year should be no exception and in the weeks ahead we can look forward to some brilliant bottom fishing on the reef for trout, sweetlip and others like possibly some quality reef jacks. October is also a time that is suitable for overnight or evening trips to chase reds. Looking forward this month there should still be a few mackerel around for those who have missed out up till now, although they are usually tapering right off by the end of this month.

Inshore fishing and October remains in my records as one of the best months for catching our prime targets. If you focus on the salt arm area of the river mouths it is a perfect time to complete the ‘Inshore Treble’ of being able to catch fingermark, jack and barra in the one session. It is also the last month for legally taking barramundi before the annual east coast 3-month seasonal spawning closure. Other options include a backpacking day trip chasing some of our smaller sportfish like jungle perch and sooty grunter. Using small lures on light spin gear up in the freshwater streams right now is a guaranteed day of fun.

What has been happening

Perfect spring weather has given plenty of opportunities for small boat owners to get out off the coast amongst the islands and close reefs to chase a bottom fish or two. Most reef trips have provided coral trout and red throat emperor for the bottom bouncers on the reef and quality reds on the wider spots in the deep water. The reds are usually found away from the reefs in the more open country. Look for rough bottom in deeper water that is beyond 40m and up to 60m in depth and you should be in the type of country that will hold prime bottom dwellers like large mouth nannygai and red emperor.

The boats heading offshore have also taken advantage of what has been a bumper season for Spanish mackerel at the local reefs. Usually those deploying a floater line while bottom fishing have picked up a mackerel or two and those who put the time in to find the bait and work harder have scored heavily with the macks. Around the inshore islands the mackerel fishing has been a bit patchy compared to previous years.

Inshore in the estuaries and rivers, bait fishing has produced grunter, jacks and salmon with live baits finding a few nice fingermark in the deep water holes and barra in the snags with live prawns. Lure casting recently has produced a few jacks and the odd barra in against the banks. There have also been reasonable catches of small to medium sized queenies and small GTs for those anglers putting in the time with surface lures in the river mouths. The lure fishing should pick up this month as the water temperature rises and the barra, of course, will be more active as they get into spawning mode.

Once again the presence of netting at High Island has raised the ire of local anglers at the High Island hot spot. Going back over the last 25 years this has been a recreational fishos paradise especially during the mackerel season. Sadly over the last decade this haven has had to be shared with a commercial netting operator who many long time amateurs believe has adversely affected the usually prolific mackerel fishing, reducing it to a shadow of what it once was. Regular fishers, myself included, will tell you that there is a distinct absence these days of really large fish and an overall reduction in catch numbers. Where have all of these fish gone? Where are all of the 60lb fish that were so common around this island? They are quite rare these days. They are either not coming to the island any more, or, are they getting caught in the wall of death that is submerged deep below the surface at High Island?

Till next month, enjoy October!

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