Looking forward to a warmer, wetter season
  |  First Published: November 2017

During the last month, we’ve caught spectacular fish inside the northern end of the channel, including a 30lb GT while casting for barra, 110cm black jewfish, 90cm golden snapper and quite a few big barra including our milestone 2000th metre plus fish. It’s definitely warmed up early this year and that would explain better than average fishing for September. Early northwesterlies slowed things a little at times, which is a pain but overall we can’t complain. It’s been pretty good.

September has brought an early run of greenback herring and they’re everywhere. Some schools just seem endless and are a welcome meal to many critters. Northern bluefin, Spaniards, queenies and more have been making the most of it. They’re easy to find – all you have to do is look for the small white terns diving into the schools. Although Hinchinbrook Channel is mostly mangrove waterways, it’s amazing the amount of different pelagics you’ll find.

Barra fishing has been awesome towards the end of season. The numbers of big fish that have arrived from the headlands is outstanding, considering we didn’t have a massive wet season early this year. Maybe all these fish are expecting something to happen. The numbers are up compared to last year.

It would be great if we enter our wet cycle again as the barra numbers in Northern Australia are at an all time low in many areas. With some big rains, we could kick start the recruitment cycle again. With a few wet years in a row, we’ll see another barra boom. The cycle comes and goes with our wet and dry years and those that follow these cycles will know exactly what I’m talking about.

The early warmth in the water has also bought good numbers of golden snapper into the channel. I’d expect threadfin to arrive early for their spawning aggregations. I don’t mind the barra closed seasons, as targeting threadies is a whole bunch of fun. They’ll pull a barra around backwards and really are a stunning fish to look at. Once they arrive, they’re easy targets with many soft vibes and plastics accounting for them. They’ll take a big variety of lures and aren’t too fussy.

During November, it’s golden snapper and salmon time, but it can get pretty oppressive out there in the day. Many fishers try their luck at night and this is when many species forage more. They become very active and use the night hours to their advantage. Golden snapper have always been a popular target around inshore islands and headlands at night.

Many anglers swear by using a squid light to land squid, as it’s a very good live bait. I’ve found the larger oceanic herrings that come to the lights are just as good and cleaner to catch. If you use a smaller type of bait jig under the squid light, you can catch them easily or cast the net in the creeks before you head out. Mud herring will also make a great bait for those who want to get bait before heading out.

The reef will also fish better at night during the warmer months, as is always the trend. Hot still days out can see the fishing shut down completely, which is no fun. We hope to have a reef course coming out later next year, but if you’d like to check out some of our other premium courses and plenty of free content, check out our new site at www.fishsmarter.com.au.


Phil Capes landed our 2000th metre long barra during September.


Phil with one of the biggest golden snapper the author’s seen inside the channel.

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