Chilling without the chill! Cape York
That describes winter on Cape York well.
Comfortable balmy weather, occasionally a bit windy, but still warm enough to go for a swim in the crocodile-free spots, such as Twin and Fruit Bat falls at the top of the Jardine River National Park.
Locals start reaching for their jumpers here once the minimum temperature gets below 20C, but that doesn’t happen very often… mainly before the sun comes up at the various camp sites along the Peninsula Development Rd.
And the tracksuit bottoms usually come off before morning tea!
It’s been a crazy wet season up this way. Cape York
Weipa topped the rainfall totals with around 2.5m of liquid sunshine from early December to mid-May.
But the rain has been very patchy, with some areas remaining dry until late in the season.
The PDR has been opened and closed more times than a fridge door at dinnertime, with a big burst along the east coast in early May flooding bridges and culverts from the Hann to the
Jardine River until mid-month.
Early season travellers became trapped between rivers, prompting several evacuations of stranded groups.
One family who visited Portland Roads for the four-day Easter break were still there almost a month later.
In the Weipa area, it’s been the best wet season I can remember, with rain falling steadily from late November to mid-May.
The monsoon wind was rarely heavy and any cyclones fizzled out, so getting out on the water was a popular pastime.
A prolonged wet optimises the breeding opportunities of important local species such as barramundi and queenfish.
This is readily confirmed by chucking a few lures around the rivers – barramundi are fat and healthy, obviously feasting on the huge numbers of prawns and mullet that have resulted from the good rains.
A trip to Brisbane – affectionately called ‘Brisvegas’ – for a minor operation allowed me the opportunity of sneaking down to see Warren Steptoe at Iluka between flooding events.
While the fishing was almost nonexistent due to the run-off, a visit to Mick Leavey at Yamba Bait and Tackle was very productive indeed.
Mick and his family visited my charter at Weipa some years back, so he was eager to show me his Bent Freakn Minnows that had been slaying big flathead.
Well, Steptoe and I immediately recognised a barramundi catcher when we saw one, the upshot being that I left with a couple of Mick’s gems in my hand.
Fast forward to the Embley River in Weipa a week or so later and it took barely a half a dozen casts to confirm that the old heads were not yet ancient enough to not be on the money!
Mick had explained that his version of the ‘bent’ minnows was carefully balanced to maximise their action, and that appeared to be the case. Cape York
The only problem was that my prediction the lure’s hooks were not barra-tough proved to be correct, so I’ve upgraded them to 5X VMCs and BKK Raptor Zs – though the slightly heavier weight does cause the lure to sink a bit lower in the water.
These barra benders suit my long-time flicking technique down to a tee, whether they are dog walked or worked erratically.
Most of the strikes are spectacular, with even small fish rising to the top to boof them in fine form.
They also appeal to big mangrove jack and estuary cod, and there’s something special happening when these bruisers smash a lure near the surface.
Yes, it’s definitely all happening up here in our winter wonderland.
The PDR is open, the fish are biting – what’s keeping you down in cold country? Cape York