Far North Queensland Winter Fishing

By Dylan Brier-Mills

The good fishing never stops up here in Far North Queensland, even with dropping water temps and trade winds the fish still have to eat and they have done exactly that this winter so far. Over the past couple of months I have been fishing all over the place from Cairns to Weipa with some good results on everything from Sailfish to Barra.

We have so many options this time of year up for an array of species to be caught. One of my favourite fish to target here in Cairns while the winds are up is the Queen fish. Surface strikes, Screaming runs and acrobatic jumps they do it all and when they are in big schools it can be hours of fun. Up here we tend to fish the big run out tides early morning or late afternoon throwing along the current lines and searching for bait getting busted up. More often than not they will school up around the mouths of the rivers just off the sand edges sitting in 2m of water. 

My favourite technique for them is surface walkers and poppers around 100mm in length worked quickly along the surface. Although some days they don’t want to eat off the top, when this is the case I’ll put on a Shimano Spanyid vibe and work it down the sand edge to get the bite. You don’t need a combo too big for these fun sports fish, a 4000 sized reel and a 4-6kg spin rod will do the trick with 20lb Power Pro braid and 40lb Ocea leader. This is just one of many options while the wind is up.

Another is Targeting Barra, Jacks and Grunter in the creeks. This time of year around Cairns they will tend to sit in deeper water at Junctions of little creeks or deep holes but it can be a little tough. Lots of people will venture even further north to Weipa to chase the better fishing, just like I have. I’ve been lucky enough to be up there myself guiding with Capt Kim Anderson off the stunning Riviera “Duyfken” as the mothership. Over the last few charters we have seen some unbelievable fishing both in the creek and offshore in the gulf. Finding school sized Barra everywhere we look. Fishing the snags and drains early morning and late afternoon’s with shallow hard bodies has been most productive and fishing deeper water throughout the day with vibes have seen some quality fish. Using Soft vibes like Shimano Spanyids have been very effective on a variety of species including Barra, Thread Fin Salmon, Grunter, Black Jew and all the other bits in between. 

Last charter we saw a Metre Barra, 110cm Threadfin and a Metre Jew all coming from deep water on Soft vibes. The best way to fish vibes is in about 4-5m of water letting them sink to the bottom with a gentle lift of the rod and repeat again preferable trying to stay out of the current so you can stay connected with the vibe on the lift and on the drop. Barra tend to suck them in and spit them out before you even realise what has happened. The best setup for this sort of fishing is a 2500-4000 Spin reel and again a 4-6kg rod. I’ve been using the new Shimano Stradic FK 3000 matched with the new range of Gloomis E6X rods. Both of these can handle fishing day in day out no problem at all for all the species we encounter in the Weipa creeks. 

When the wind finally does stop blowing in Cairns, fishing offshore is unreal with lots of Reds, Trout and heaps of Spanish Macs to be caught. My favourite thing to do this time of year offshore is to troll for little Black Marlin and Sailfish. Only having a couple of gaps in the wind to get out so far we have just been trolling a spread of five skirts along with a teaser. Last trip we boated a Sail and Black also missing a double hook up, so much fun on 15kg line with TLD 20s.

The fish still have to eat even though it’s cool, one of the biggest tips I can give this winter is its never to cold and that includes fishing for Barra. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what the weather is doing up here this winter fish can always be caught both Inshore and Offshore.