Far North Queensland offers some of the best and most diverse fishing in Australia. Over 10 days in October 2019, we went on a trip of a lifetime with 8 mates, staying in a full-sized cabin, and equipment to handle anything the ocean threw at them.
I started my trip on the 20th of October by flying into Cairns from Sydney, hiring a car and driving the unique coastline towards Port Douglas. I arrived at our airbnb “the cassowary” located a short 20 minute inland drive from Port Douglas. A large modern timber house situated at the foot of a mountain tucked between freshwater creeks and rainforest.
The trip was centered around our friend Scott’s birthday and we had planned between friends and partners 7 days of exploration and of course, fishing.
Our first few days were planned to get out to the reefs such as Tongue, Batt and Opal Reef. So we set out with Saltaire Charters – a custom sportfishing vessel built in cairns and has been designed to fish the shallows chasing GT, reef species and of course out wide trawling for giant black marlin.
We immediately found prime GT grounds in some tough northern winds thanks to our skipper. Big schools of fusilier and nice pockets of current were what made our first cast of the trip so memorable. Spotting a big black shadow of a GT flying across the shallow reef and with an explosive hit on my popper. The hooks didn’t set on this first fish but to witness such power from these powerful fish was enough to get me hooked. We had 6 hours of casting a range of stickbaits and poppers resulting in many great fish from GT, Large red bass, and coral trout all on surface lures. Once the day moved on and we lost the current and bait it was time to fish deeper. Moving back into some of the closer reefs and wrecks we started to drop small jigs and plastics. A number of emperor and more coral trout gave us a few hours of light jigging excitement.
GT caught off Tongue Reef, Port Douglas
Technique – Finding fusilier bait schools and high current movement, popping and stickbaiting.
The rest of the week was forecast for 40km/h winds so we sadly had to throw in the towel for reef fishing. This now opened the avenue for our freshwater expeditions throughout Port Douglas. I took to google maps in search for systems that will would hold the fabled jungle perch, a prized species in my books. The following days included wading through gin clear creeks and hopping along the creek bank throwing small stickbaits and poppers. Small waterfalls and rapids were made for some picturesque landscape.
Our first day resulted in only one fish but had now that we had seen a JP in the flesh this got us pumped for the days to come. As the days followed we increased the number of fish caught and really set in a true passion for these little fresh water gems. They’re aggression towards surface lures are what make a peaceful and tranquil experience turn into a heart pounding fight to land the fish.
Fresh Water Creeks Fishing the Rapids
Gear – Canon 5D Mk4.
Lens – 100-400mm IS, 16-35mm 2.8
Technique – Slow shutter.
Leading into out last days in FNQ we made movements back down towards cairns, with a day booked fishing along side legendary charter operator Kim Anderson. Kim has lead many fishos on to some amazing barramundi over the years as well as many other species.
Myself, Scott and James took to Copperlode dam situated up in the mountains behind Cairns. The dam itself is one that has to be seen with your own eyes. Giant looming rainforest flora encroaching the bank making for a stunning backdrop. With numbers of cassowary’s sighted recently we had open eyes. The overcast day brought promise with good barometer readings and relatively good water temps.
Kim lead us to our first spot, immediate soundings of barra below, I drop a vibe out and within my 5th cast I was on, rod bent over with 30lbs line ripping off my reel. A few minutes in and it was all over, hooks pulled, lure intact. It was couple hours before our next fish, Scott managed a healthy sized barra again hooked up on the vibe, it seemed the deeper holes where were the fish were holding. With Kim casting and getting a few using a range of lures from diving bombers and slow rolling soft plastics we got to see many fish in the scales and up close which was very exciting for someone who had never seen a barramundi. Again, a fish that I will never forget, even if I didn’t land on that day.
The trip with Kim was the final leg in my trip, the boys were off chasing grander along the ribbons for the next week. We parted ways and I was on my way flying home, with a three hour flight, there was plenty of time to reflect the past weeks experiences and photos. A very recommended trip up to the Cairns / Port Douglas area with much fishing to be had as well as a lot of scenic ventures along the way.