Queenies River Reign
  |  First Published: April 2010

It is hoped that May will coincide with the start of this year’s dry after the lingering wet season continued on well into April.

The recent damp spell we have endured in the north certainly crashed a lot of Easter plans and many campers will only now have to look forward to the upcoming long weekends and June school holidays to get their fix.

The prospect of some dry, calm and clear weather has been on the wish list for many anglers up here in the tropics as we head towards the cooler winter months. The fish have been there waiting to be tempted but very few opportunities have emerged for the weekend warriors as they are having to deal with the dominant wet south easterly trade wind patterns.


For those bait fishing enthusiasts, working the structure inside the creeks has produced a few smallish barra along with occasional fingermark, estuary cod and mangrove jack. Live prawns have been best for the barra.

Out on the flats grunter and a few blue salmon have been caught on strip baits. There have also been plenty of school GT around in the river mouths. These fish are taking a variety of baits but especially favour fresh sardines caught on the spot.

This month will see the start of a few winter species beginning to show up along with perennial favourites, like the queenfish. Other popular fish like the northern pikey or black bream will be about in good numbers and this will continue over the next few months.

Luring for barra

Barramundi have been taking lures in most of the local waterways but particularly in the freshwater areas where small feeder creeks enter the main streams. There are good reports of success on small soft plastics at the moment with anglers working these lures amongst the fallen timber and any deep bank collecting a run-off.

These juvenile fish will continue to feed actively whenever there is a run-off and will be looking for food morsels washed down by the late rains. When the streams return to normal levels, look for these fish amongst the weed beds as it is here that they will spend their winter days in the shallower warmer sections of the rivers. Better quality barra will most certainly be found in the deeper water at this time of the year.

Looking ahead and with all the rain that fell last month it will prolong the chances of nailing one or two late season barra around the local waterways of Cairns.


Reports of offshore action in April have been somewhat limited by the weather we have had to deal with, however there have been some good Spaniards about recently and this month they should be showing up in bigger numbers out wide.

In closer along the harbour leads there are already sporadic catches of doggies and spottie macks up to 5kg. These fish should increase throughout the month as well as around the Islands and headlands. Chase these fish with small slices such as Raiders and Bumpa Bars as well as the ever-reliable pillie bait rig.

Looking ahead and on the bottom fishing scene out wide there should be good catches of nannygai and also coral trout up on the reefs.

Usually at this time of year attention inshore starts to move off the barra focus and on to some readily available hard pulling speedsters we know as queenies. As soon as the freshwater levels start clearing in the river mouths we will be greeted by the presence of some quality queenfish.

When the fresh leaves our rivers and salt water tides push high upstream into our rivers, bait schools will be found much further up stream than earlier in the year. And you can be sure that not far away will be large hungry queenfish up around the 10kg mark.

Big greenbacks are an absolute anglers dream as they are easy to catch and a real challenge to bring in. Be sure and have a few inshore top water lures/jigs with you on any outing to the rivers over the coming months.

Last month’s edition (April QFM) featured an article on a variety of slow retrieved jigs that are all ideal for chasing the queenies. A good 2m medium spin rod matched with a quality spin reel loaded with either 6kg mono or braid will be ideally suited to casting for these speedsters. It is an advantage if you can cast your lure beyond 50m with your outfit as sometimes the fish are a bit boat shy and can be easily spooked.

Use the tide and wind to drift along in your boat and cast around the edges of the sand bar system throughout the river mouth. Look for any signs of feeding, such as bird activity and of course small cutting signs as the queenies break surface chasing bait fish.

Try working a making tide in the afternoon and follow the tide from the river mouth as it floods through the shallow sand bar systems.

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