We are now entering into the heart of the wet season where cyclones develop more frequently in the adjacent Coral Sea. Often there are associated rain depressions and strong winds that make fishing at this time of year most challenging. However, what was biting in the early part of year should still be biting now, providing the weather doesn’t ruin the proceedings and unleashed its full fury.
Offshore on the light tackle scene there were good early reports of yellowfin tuna and mahi mahi working the outer edge shelf smashing a variety of presentations, including hardbody lures, skirted lures and skipping garfish. These species can still be present during February as long as the weather allows for the extended trip.
The odd sailfish also made solid appearances leading into the New Year and the hot spots have included Linden Bank, Opal Ridge and passageways through the reefs leading to these destinations.
Reef fishing results change on a day-to-day basis and you can never be sure what to expect during the warmer months. One day the fish are snapping their heads off and the next literally disappearing. It’s a matter of trial and error and waters in the 30-40m mark will most likely see the best results with largemouth nannygai and red emperor as prime targets.
Coral trout will also turn up at these depths during this time of year along with a mixed bag of species including the various trevally, slatey bream, sweetlip and cod varieties. If there are any mackerel to hit your floating rigs they will most like be the big rogue variety that travel solitary during the summer period.
If you know some marks, the coastal wonky holes tend to fire up with a bit of rain around and can turn up a variety of fish including monster largemouth nannygai and gold spot cod. These underwater fountains also attract pelagics and sharks, which could see you with your hands full. Also it’s worth exploring local headlands and islands where a lot of bait can be flushed attracting longtail and mac tuna, grey mackerel, big eye trevally and cale cale trevally.
Tailing lures or casting metal slugs will allow to you cover more ground and track down the areas where the birds are working the surface. Demarcation lines where fresh meet the salt are good starting points and often are quite apparent as dirty water clashes with the clearer water. These areas can be found some distance offshore so keep an eye out for them as they are great fishing areas.
Turning focus to the inshore this time of year can be extremely productive for barra fishers as the season re-opens. The bigger fish can be found around river mouths, headlands and coastal break through creeks.
These coastal creeks break open during the wet season pouring fresh food into the sea and the barra love to sit and wait in ambush. Between Port Douglas and Cairns there are dozens of these inconspicuous creek systems that have remained idle until the wet arrives. Peppering lures, poppers, hardbody and soft plastic lures at these entrances can see you with a catch of a lifetime. Best catches coincide with a dropping tide and low light periods. If you find a spot that ticks all the boxes then patience is the key. It may be the thirtieth cast in the same location that will produce the goods and more often than not a big, big fish.
The rivers and creeks can be tough going at times and seem to fish best a few days after a big dousing of rain. Small run-offs into the main system are a good starting point, particularly for mangrove jack and barramundi. As long as there is a reasonable amount of salt pushing in with the high tides there will be some action. Freshwater will be on top of the water so concentrate your efforts deeper whether it be live baiting or lure fishing.
In these tougher conditions you will need to wait for windows of opportunity and sometimes think outside the square. It is a great time of year to experiment and fish areas you normally wouldn't.
This February edition will be my last for QFM. I've had a great affiliation with the magazine for the past 7 years and I'd like to thank Stephen and the crew for the great opportunity to be part of such a great team. If there is any budding writer who would like to take over the area report please contact Stephen Booth (contact information on the contents page).Reads: 1333