Closures Spark Pelagic Action
  |  First Published: November 2011



Well the spawning season is now upon us and as a result the taking of the famous barra for the table will be over for another few months.

Although there is nothing that you can do if you hook a barra during the closed season, please refrain from intentionally targeting them as any interference with them may disrupt their spawning procedures and cycles.

Cooktown’s local barra population gets more than enough pressure from the local commercial netters for eight months of the year so they don’t need anything else giving them a hard time during the short break that they get over the closed season. Just remember that if you are planning a late trip to the Gulf that their season closed on October 4 so barras are not an option.

Also remember that the second and final coral fin fish closure for 2011 will be in swing at the end of the month from November 22-26.

There have been reports of plenty of fat trout coming over the side of many boats that have been getting out on some of the deeper water. Remember that most of your better trout are in over 15m of water at this time of the year as the water is getting pretty warm. Although the closures are only for eight days of the year, please only keep enough for a feed at the moment as trout will be rowed up for at least a few months. Nearly all female trout will have row inside of them from October-January so let what you can go and keep this species pumping along for the future.

I love keeping a feed of trout and reds as much as the next bloke but I would like to see a closure for fin fish for at least six weeks. Fisheries seem to think that trout must only spawn during the four day closures that they apply twice a year. Anyone that actually gets out on the water knows that these magical dates for spawning happen for a lot longer. Qld D.P.I & Fisheries have no problem closing the barramundi season for months at a time so it is a shame that the Fin Fish closures are not thought about more seriously as trout are getting harder to find each year off Cooktown.

On a more positive note, it is good to see plenty of barras swimming around the local Wharf getting ready for spawning. There aren’t too many places where you can see meter plus 40lb barras free swimming in the gin clear water under the wharf.

There have been plenty of good eating sized barras between 60-70cm getting caught from under the wharf over the last month. Keeping true to the form of previous years, big 30cm live yellowfin pike are the standout bait accounting for about 90% of the fish caught. Live sardines and soft plastics have caught for the remainder of the fish.

There have also been plenty of good 50cm sized mangrove jacks being caught on the bottom of the tide and through the first few hours of the run in tide. These fish are also getting ready to spawn and are smashing absolutely anything that gets put in front of them. A mate kept one for the table and upon filleting it he had a look inside the fish’s stomach contents to see what it was feeding on. He noticed that it stomach was literally full to the brim and contained half a dozen hardyheads, a herring and even a fried chicken drumstick bone that someone had thrown over after a meal at the local take away shop at the wharf!

Cooktown Barra charters have been getting clients amongst some quality fish in the Endeavour with 60cm Fingermark and 50cm Jack making the southern tourists happy. Shane has also reported some standout queenfish action smashing the schools of hardyheads and herring that are still in the river.

Over the next few months, most of the bait will move out around the various headlands and inshore reefs as the river should have too much fresh in it for their liking. Summer off Cooktown brings some of the best inshore pelagic action on the east coast with plenty of big queenies, GT, Golden Trevally and Spanish Mackerel smashing the thick schools of summer bait that will be found holding over any structure that they can.

The next few months should see the southeasterly winds bugger off and allow the small tinny brigade to get out amongst the action. The numerous Wrecks between Indian Head and North Bedford will see some good fingermark, saddle-tail sea perch, bar-cheek and your usual pelagic species. Summer off Cooktown is the best time to fish as the weather is good, the pelagic action is red hot and there are minimal tourists around. The only downside are the sharks in plagues and the night time electrical storms that are not much fun if you are in a tinny 20 miles out at sea.

The Lure Shop now stocks a full range of bow and pig dog hunting supplies stocking breast plates, sticking knives and dog first aid kits and also has the largest range of archery supplies anywhere on the Cape. For many anglers that come to Cape York, fishing and hunting go hand in hand and as such, Cooktown now has a new hunting/fishing guide (Cooktown Adventure Camping) available to take clients on private charter to target barra, sooty grunter, boars & scrub bulls.

For more information on this guiding operation (or any other fishing charters) in Cooktown and its surrounding areas why not give us a call at The Lure Shop and let us fill you in on what is biting and where the action is. The Lure Shop is located at 142 Charlotte Street, Cooktown and we can be contacted on (07) 4069 5396 or via email on --e-mail address hidden-- or --e-mail address hidden-- .

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