In recent windows of good weather, boaties have been catching some quality Spanish mackerel, and these fish should hopefully hang around for a while yet. The average size is around 10kg, with a few horses thrown in.
The gun mackerel lure of late has been the inexpensive TrollCraft Pelagic 9 diving minnow, which holds in at speeds of up to 12 knots. The top colours have been red-head and silver prism.
The bottom has been yielding some great coral trout on wider reefs, with many fish up around the 4kg mark. Some great reds are being picked up on the inshore and offshore reefs as well, with specimens to 8kg.
There has been a good run of light pelagics like queenfish and GTs, which have been going ballistic around Cape Bedford on lure and fly. Clouser and Deceiver flies are working well, as are medium-sized poppers of around 80-100mm.
Around the wharf there have been good numbers of school mackerel, which have been enthusiastically taking live herring and metal slices. Some of the locals are even casting out minnows on their surf rods and cranking them in.
When targeting schoolies, try to get your fish in quickly to avoid disappointment, as the resident gropers love mackerel. Sometimes the best way is to freespool to let the mackerel swim away from the gropers that lurk under the wharf, and have a second go when the fish is ready to land.
There has also been a quite consistent run of barra off the wharf. Most have been taken on large live pike, and the quality of the fish has been excellent with many around 80-100cm. The prime time is the last of the run-out in the middle of the afternoon, on the last three or four days on the lead-up to the moon.
In spite of the drop in water temperature we’re still enjoying quite a good run on lure casting for barra, with slow retrieves and accurate casts providing rewarding results. The best lures are Tilsans, Leads and Richo’s.
Fingermark and mangrove jack have turned up in many catches, with the gun soft plastics being 5” Gulp Jerkshads and 4” Gulp Pogys. The latter do not swim very well, but this doesn’t seem to hamper their catch rate.
Of course, live baits are picking up some quality jacks and fingermark as well, with local guides getting their customers onto some excellent specimens.
Golden trevally can currently be found right up through most of the reaches of the Endeavour River, up to where the river branches off into what locals call The North Arm (Right Branch). Many of these fish have taken live baits meant for jacks and barra, and queenfish are a common by-catch as well.
There are great quality tarpon up there for lure casters using soft plastics. These are excellent sportfish but are not good eating, and so should be released.
A few grunter are still being caught on small live baits, but these fish are not common catches at present. Still, the ones that have been caught have been quality fish.
There is still the odd mud crab around; people aren’t filling their pots but are getting enough for a feed. It is best to work the deeper holes when the tide is running, to maximise your chances.
The run of Spanish and school mackerel should continue through July, and the reefs will continue to fire as well. The reefs to the north have been yielding great bottom fish, and if you can find a 3-5m rise in 30-35m of water there is a fair chance of loading up with reds. It’s just a matter of getting lucky with a break in the weather.
If you’re planning a trip to the region, feel free to give me a call at The Lure Shop on (07) 4069 5396 for info on what’s biting. Alternatively, you can drop in and see us at our premises on Charlotte Street, Cooktown.Reads: 692