In late-November each year we pack up our fishing camp on the NT's Cobourg Peninsula before the wet-season hits. This year I managed to escape the office mid-week and head out fishing with brother/business partner/skipper Hugh, fair to say we had an absolute cracking day!
We hit the water early, about 5am, immediately I'm reminded why I love this time of year as the water is absolute glass. With the good conditions we thought we'd go somewhere different so we steamed around a couple of bays to a rarely fished shallow reef. Arriving at sunrise it was magic, the only ripples on the water were bait, birds and fish feeding, mainly mackerel and queenies. Below is a little video of the scene.
The reef here is only about 4 metres deep and covers a huge area so we jigged plastics and threw poppers most of the morning. After getting our fix of queenies and macks (mostly greys, although we did put a nice Spaniard in the esky) we moved on a few hundred metres and found a nice patch of reefies.
Going off would be an understatement!
You could barely get the plastic to the bottom before getting a hit or a hook-up and by the end of the session we were just fishing with lumps of rubber - their Squidgy paddle-tails long gone, but it didn't matter! After 100+ fish we moved to surface lures, still catching some reefies as well as pelagics. Highlights included catching a cracking 10kg golden snapper and enticing a coral trout up off the reef to take a popper. We also landed a nice mangrove jack on a popper, always fun and a great surprise on the reef - we were lucky to get him in too as he had a few teeth marks on him!
By noon we'd caught 172 fish! Given, many were small, like stripeys and heaps of pan-size tricky snapper but geez it was good fun! Now we'd got our fix of reefies and pelagics we decided to spend the rest of the day barra fishing. The warmer months (April, May, October & November) are the best time to chase barra up here as they are more active and feeding harder. We headed back into Port Essington (this is where our camp is located), up into the higher reaches of the bay, home to a variety of small creeks, gutters, flats and rocky headlands - perfect barra country!
Our first barra spot was a rocky headland, it's one of Hugh's newer spots. Here, there's one particular rock that sticks out a little bit more than the rest and it's here barra like to congregate at certain points in the tides (not sure why?!). The first few flicks with a golden bomber didn't get an enquiry, then a flick just to the right of the rock and bang, barra on! It's only 44cm but it's great to have a barra in the boat. And that was the start... for the next 20 minutes if we put the lure in just the right spot, we got a hit or ended up with a barra in the boat! All barra were undersized but lot's of fun.
Next, we hit up a couple of gutters, one in particular was firing!
Gutter no.2 is the unofficial name and it's now my favourite barra spot at Cobourg! It's only shallow, surrounded by mangroves, with a few submerged snags. At each snag we attacked we just kept pulling barra out of them, before moving on to the next one when they ran out. We spend about 45 minutes here, flicking tiger-lily bombers and ended up with 7 keepers and 20+ rats. Then as quick as it started, the barra were gone and the session was over. By now we'd stopped counting exactly how many fish we'd pulled in the boat but the days haul was well over 200!
After racking our brains and working out we'd caught 26 species for the day we thought it was time to head back to camp. En route we decided we may as well drop one last plastic as we were passing one of Hugh's favourite jewfish spots... 15 minutes later not a bite! Funny thing is jews have been probably the best performing species this year! Oh well, don't think I'll be complaining any time soon... What a day 😃
Written by Aaron Gange (Reservations & Sales Manager @ Cobourg Fishing Safaris)
If you'd like to come out fishing with us please get in touch with us on 08 8927 5500 or send us an email enquiry here.