Great winter fishing in the tropics
  |  First Published: June 2010

This month the tropics are being treated to perfect winter season conditions consisting of clear skies and warm days broken by cool, crisp evenings and mornings. When you match up that sort of scenario with light winds under 10 knots, the winter boating in the tropics is unbeatable.

The fishing has also been great lately with plenty of action about for inshore and offshore anglers as well as any other combinations. July is a month for big fish as well.

Offshore bottom bouncing and there have been some excellent days producing bumper catches from the deeper water. Reds, including large mouth nannygai and red emporer as well as the welcome addition of quality red throat emporers, have been in many bags. There have been plenty of reports of reds up to 10kg, which are outstanding fish. Up in the shallows and the availability of quality coral trout has been surprising with plenty above the 60cm mark. This should continue throughout the month. One tip I have learnt about July is to have the boat fuelled and ready to go as often the winds come down suddenly and for only a short window, so being ready to get mobile quickly can mean the difference of getting the trip in, or missing out due to winds freshening up again after the short window.

The other fish that is on everyone’s mind when offshore at this time of the year is mackerel. July consistently has been one of the top months for chasing mackerel up here in the far north and there is good reason to be optimistic about the next month or so. There are good reports of the lesser mackerels including doggies and spotties along the Cairns Harbour leads at present but these fish will now be around most of the close islands and near coastal reefs and are an easy proposition for most anglers chasing some table fillets. The bigger Spaniards have been around in good numbers for some time and throughout July we should start to see more of a presence of these sought after fish closer in around the islands such as Fitzroy, Double, High and the Franklands. If you are chasing some advice on how to gear up for the mackerel season, right now is the time to call into one of the many local tackle stores where you can pick up expert tips on selecting the right gear for these speedsters.

Inshore fishing has also been exciting with the rivers throwing up some real surprises. Recently visiting angler Tony Makfimov, who was fishing with Kerry Bailey, caught and released a magnificent GT in the Russell/Mulgrave. These big trevally are phenomenal to catch in a river on relatively light gear such as what you would be intending to use on queenfish and have been known to be well over 25kg. In my days chartering and on pleasure trips I have captured a number of these big fish over the years inside an estuary and they really are something else to hook up. These big GT can strip a reel in under a minute so usually you do not get them unless you can be mobile instantly and chase the fish down to recover lost line. Inside a river, the trevally are clean fighters but occasionally a snag might bring you undone. If you are anchored while fishing, it is good advice to have your anchor set up with a styrene float attached so that when such a hook-up occurs, you are prepared and can simply throw the anchor line and retrieve later once you have made the capture. There is usually no time available before being spooled to actually haul in the anchor before giving chase.

Some good quality jacks are still about for the inshore fisher this month. A recent trip to one of their favourite spots brought success to Steve Dangard and David Mayes who between them nailed some beauties including one nice reddie that pushed the 60cm mark. One tip I can give you here for the jacks is to chase them on an afternoon rising/making tide, which seems to be a consistent tide producer, and be prepared to fish well into the dark as the jacks actively feed at night.

Elsewhere in the local rivers and the Cairns Inlet there remain consistent reports of barra being taken although most anglers report small juvenile barra below the 60cm mark.

Looking ahead and there is a strong likelihood of excellent queenfish action in the rivers along with occasional big GT so get ready for some serious action.

Till next month, good fishing

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