Angler opportunities have been wonderfully unhindered this past month as our region has been spared the brunt of the monsoon, with the better falls hitting from Innisfail north and Townsville to the south.
This good weather allowed the Cardwell Barra Bonanza to proceed with blue skies and no floodwater. However, it was stinking hot and on the second day we even called in to a jungle stream running off the island for a freezing cold dip. Fishing was reasonable but not the best I have seen.
During the event, the hot water in the shallows made bait gathering a little difficult and a high percentage of barra released were taken on lures. Being a catch and release competition, anglers had to photograph their fish on registered measuring boards, but the salmon, grunter and jack prizes were based on weighable fish. Some top prizes were handed out and my crew managed to claim a few of the top prizes as they caught the three biggest barra in the comp; Chris Daly landed the biggest at 96cm scoring $2,500 in accommodation at ETs apartments, just perfect for his next trip to Hinchinbrook.
Estuary fishing in general has changed a bit recently with the big grunter moving away from the inshore areas and now holding around some of the trenches of our offshore islands.
Mangrove jacks have made a good reappearance with anglers picking them up on both lures in the shallows and flesh baits around the deeper structures. Live greenback herring are a favourite bait, especially if you put a couple of scratches on them first as the jacks can’t seem to resist a bait that looks like it has escaped from another fish.
Fingermark have still been slow around the rivers but have been plentiful around the deeper headlands. I would expect to see them back inshore around mid April.
Another species that start to thrive again in April are the school sized threadfin salmon. They will aggregate in most deep holes, particularly the ones that contain shells and rubble. They use their long whiskers to forage for small crabs and such among the rubble, and if they come across a live greenback they certainly don’t pass it up.
Most of the threadfin are around 4-6kg at this time of year, compared to the 10-14kg fish we catch in the September to December period. Their arrival seems to coincide with the inundation of greenback herring, which as I have said before are one of their favourites.
By late April I would expect our offshore reef species to start becoming more aggressive as the water temp starts to drop. Trout and sweetlip should move a bit shallower, especially around the larger tidal movements. This would also be a good time to put out a floating pillie for an early season Spaniard.
For those of you who want to run a bit further, a trip to the Shelf is usually interrupted by good size yellowfin tuna, dogtooth and mahi mahi.
Here’s a thought: Most destinations in the NT will cost anglers around $750-800 each per day on average for charter and accommodation only, yet I can put you in a waterfront mansion with pool, spas, private pontoon plus your day’s charter for only $260 each per day (based on 4 anglers) – You get 3 days for the price of one! We catch just as many metre-plus barra to boot, so have a good think if you are planning a fishing holiday this year. You can get me on 0418 538 170 or --e-mail address hidden--Reads: 1350