November is hot, damn hot, and the fishing is the same. However, there’s thugs and mugs and robbers all fired up to do piscatorial battle in an effort to get fed. It seems no matter what fish you're after, there's bound to be predator lurking to rob you.
Emblazoned in my memory is the vision of a few 80cm barramundi free jumping around shallow reefs joining the beach, but these fish weren’t jumping for fun. Speedy whaler sharks snapped below them. As the tide recedes, these spawning barra run the risk of jumping injured up into shallow pools or onto rocks, which make easy pickings for a huge sea eagle.
On the return journey that day, very large milkfish did long jumps at 90° to one another covering about 50m in five jumps to flee from unseen predators below. As with the barra, these milkfish are spawning to give their young ones the best chance of surviving in next year’s soup following the wet season.
It is not uncommon to catch and release barramundi with terrible scars through their scales, many with bits of tail and body missing. Iridescent queenfish and ravenous blue salmon chase around even smaller silver fish while also being chased themselves.
November is the time for fight or flight amongst fish. If they're not spawning, they're eating, and if they're not eating then they're being eaten. If you are a fish and you are shiny and like to move about, then things aren't good for you right now. Whiting, mullet, gar, bony bream, hardiheads and herring are all on offer to would-be predators.
Two of my favourite species up this way start to become more active after some sluggish winter behaviour in November; mangrove jack and threadfin salmon. These fish take their cue from the warmer water temperatures to begin eating larger objects. Both can be quite picky at times, so it is a pleasure to see them readily attack lures. It pays to drop lure size a little to target these fish, especially threadfin off the sand.
Small pelagics in the form of giant herring, brassy trevally, golden trevally, tarpon, blue salmon and queenfish will belt baitfish schools on the sand banks wide of the mouth. An outgoing tide either early morning or late afternoon should have you chasing birds that are chasing fish.
Mud crabs can become a little less prolific and may be harder to fool into a pot. There are always exceptions and some big bucks will be caught this time of year. Lost crab pots to crocodiles and sharks can be a nuisance.
For humans it is time to become extra watchful of box jellyfish. They will concentrate in muddy estuarine lakes or on the sandy foreshores. Try not to wade in murky water and be careful that fish and lures have not become fouled with tentacles, as often happens this time of year.
With clouds building up, November is usually a pleasure to be on the water, with hot calm conditions the order of the day. Fresh sea breezes onshore and the occasional nasty northwesterly are things to watch out for, usually in the afternoon, as is the odd quick rain drenching.Reads: 856