Estuaries the key
  |  First Published: July 2010

The fishing action has been slow in Lakefield with higher then usual water levels from Cape York’s late wet season.

Hopefully later in the month we should see a slight increase in water temperature so the barra fishing will improve in the freshwater reaches of Lakefield National Park.

While tourists are still scratching up a few fish on lures, live cherabin fished under a float are claiming most captures by the influx of visitors to the national park.

Regardless of the water temperature, moon phase or wind, the click, click, click noise of a live 20cm cherabin has proved irresistible to thousands of freshwater barra throughout Northern Australia over the years.

For those who prefer flicking lures at snags, suspending lures really shine at this time of year.

If using hardbodied lures, there are some lures that can be fished as deep and slow as suspending lures.

There are countless suspending options that are suitable for this style of fishing including Rapala SXR10s, Husky Jerks and Storms Minnow Sticks. However I am yet to find a range of mass-produced barra lures that are as good as the Tropic Angler range for price, strength and quality.

I have used the 12cm Floater Junior (which is a suspender not a floater) in a variety of situations and this lure continues to prove itself time after time after time in both fresh and saltwater environments.

The TA Poddy is outstanding on jacks, threadfin, trevally and smaller barra while the standard 13cm Floater is an absolute must have for chasing barra on shallow flats.

Tropical Angler also produces a wide range of soft plastic shads so stay tuned for future reports! For anyone who is planning a trip to Northern Australia, I highly recommend investing in a few lures from the Tropic Angler range.

The annual trade winds that Cooktown is infamous for have well and truly been living up to their bad reputation with winds blowing 25-35 knots for what seems to be weeks on end.

For the brief periods where the winds have eased below 25 knots, the shallow inshore reefs have been firing with the cooler water temperatures. Spangled emperor, reef jack, fingermark and bar cheek trout have been keeping eskies full and anglers happy on the odd days were the smaller boats can get out.

The wider grounds are absolutely firing for the commercial and charter boats with huge hauls of spangled emperor and nannygai to 8kg keeping customers happy.

Cooktown has an amazing number of inshore reefs and rocky headlands where anglers can consistently target coral trout, tuskfish and fingermark within a few hundred meters from land during the cooler months.

The headlands between Walker Bay and Archer Point regularly produces some of the biggest bar cheek trout that I have seen, with plenty of fish reaching the 4-5kg mark and serious fish to 8kg are common.

These inshore grounds are relatively unfished, as when the weather is good enough to fish the reef in smaller boats, anglers tend to head to the wider grounds rather then fish the productive rocky headlands on the coast.

The easiest option to fish these headlands by boat is to launch from the beach at Archer Point then work your way around to Walker Bay.

Alternatively, if you do not fancy driving your car along the sand flats to beach launch then you can launch at the Annan River boat ramp and head towards the coast to the mouth of the Annan River.

From the mouth of the Annan River heading south along the coast you will find some of the best barra fishing that Cooktown has to offer.

This area offers some of the most spectacular surroundings in the region and consists of shallow mangrove edges with numerous rock bars and sandy flats to target barra, jacks, queenfish, trevally and cod. To take advantage of this area, a stable V-nosed punt with an electric motor will dramatically increase your chances of catching fish, as a tide over 2.6m is needed to get up onto the flats where the fish usually hold.

When the water is clear, this stretch of ground can be like an aquarium and don’t be surprised if your barra by-catch includes coral trout, spangled emperor or XOS flathead.

Glorious Giants

Something that never ceases to amaze me is the untouched GT fishing that we have on our doorstep. After seeing the huge waiting lists that many of the extended charter boats have to target these hard-pulling brutes on grounds hundreds of miles from land, I cannot believe how spoilt Cooktown’s locals are.

If you asked 90% of the fishers in Cooktown if they wanted to target GTs most would probably reply with, why would anyone outlay their hard earned money to target trevally?

We recently had two Japanese anglers come into the shop asking if we could point them in the right direction to target trevally on stick baits and poppers. After talking to these blokes I soon realised just how fanatical and passionate they were about these incredible fish and how they have targeted them all over the world on various charters during the last few years.

I gave them a few marks where I knew they would find GTs and sent them on their way. A week later they arrived back in port with bruised egos and a Saltiga that had seen better days. They exchanged stories with me of fish they landed to 35kg and fish they had no hope in stopping on top shelf PE8 and PE10 equipment.

These lads rated the fishing action as red hot and on par with any other location that they have targeted these fish at.

The beauty of fishing this area is that the outer reef is less then 30NM from the boat ramp and the list of species encountered is endless.

Other species of fish that anglers can expect to catch (or at least hook) while using surface and sub-surface lures around the ribbon reefs include: blue spot trout to 20kg+, red bass, green jobfish, wahoo, dog tooth tuna, mahi mahi, Spanish mackerel, sailfish and numerous varieties of cod.

Cooktown offers a variety of accommodation ranging from caravan parks, cabins, pubs and resorts, many of which can accommodate storage of large trailer boats.

There also are a few charter boats in Cooktown that can accommodate suitable trips ranging from day trips to week long extended charters to Osprey Reef.

If readers have any questions regarding information on charters or any other questions on Cooktown and the surrounding areas, please feel free to drop into The Lure Shop at 142 Charlotte Street, Cooktown or give us a call before you leave on your trip on (07) 4069 5396.

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