Sunday Times Column
The lure of the north
- Published: Thursday, 13 July 2017 21:55
As the cold of winter sets in across the southern half of the State fishing trips north become extremely appealing.
When you’re ruefully dragging yourself from under the doona on an icy morning and reaching for multiple layers of clothing, it’s very easy for the mind to wander to days spent in warmer climes and the amazing fishing opportunities the top half of WA offers.
The trip north is something of an institution and many of us look forward to one or more of these sojourns each year.
Many of them are annual trips and are keenly anticipated from the time the dates are set, with the all-important planning extending out for many months and only heightening the anticipation.
Thankfully in WA we are spoiled for options when it comes to heading north and the main question facing many groups is settling on a final destination.
You’ve only got to look at a map of WA to see how many potential locations there are, offering an amazing array of different fishing opportunities.
My next trip north will be to the Mackerel Islands in September, when I will joined by a group of Western Angler readers and former Test fast bowler Jeff Thomson.
This is an annual trip and we love our time there as the waters of the Mackerel Islands are teeming with a variety of prime angling species such as spanish mackerel, yellowfin tuna, cobia, red emperor, giant trevally and more.
Some friends of mine spent last week off Carnarvon on the live-aboard charter Top Gun II, fishing out around the islands off the town.
This is always a great trip and these waters offer a good range of both pelagic and demersal species, with the pink snapper about in big numbers at this time of year.
I have also been enviously viewing the exploits of a few groups of anglers who have been getting their fix of land-based gamefishing at Quobba and Steep Point over recent weeks.
I love this style of fishing and they’ve been getting some awesome spanish mackerel and cobia, in particular.
It’s been too long since I’ve been to the Abrolhos Islands and there are a number of live-aboard charters to what is arguably WA’s fishiest destination.
With a great mix of northern and southern species and the amazing scenery, it’s relative proximity to Perth makes it a great option for a fisher looking to just get away for a few days.
Exmouth is always a prime destination for southern anglers and the variety of fishing on offer and warm weather makes it hard to resist at this time of year.
From the shallow waters of the Gulf to the deep blue off Ningaloo, there is something for every angler from kids to seasoned game fishers.
Wilderness Island, on the east side of the Gulf, in particular is one of my favourite spots to enjoy a fishing holiday.
Heading farther north, there are more live-aboard charters to the remote Monte Bellos and this is a dream trip for many fishos with good reason.
In recent weeks, a few mates have been lucky enough to do this trip in their own boats (which requires careful planning) and done very well, especially on GTs.
If you really want to enjoy the sun on your back then Broome is also a great option at this time of year.
The popular Kimberley holiday town is coming into its billfishing season and sailfish numbers in local waters are through the roof ahead of this month’s much-anticipated Broome Billfish Classic.
Even farther north again, Lake Kununurra now holds a healthy population of big barramundi due to the restocking program of recent years and offers the very real chance at a metre-plus barra in its protected waters.
If the popularity of east coast barra impoundments in recent years is any indication this new fishery is sure to boom in the coming years and prove irresistible to southern fishos looking for a trip north and the chance to catch the fish of a lifetime.
Caption: Fast fish and sunshine – the lure of the north. Murray Pattison and Greg Fenn with a fine pair of Exmouth queenies.