Lake Monduran – 9 November, 2013

Saturday

After a bit of work and a bit of time at home, I found myself on the road back up to Central Queensland, on Saturday. I often drive past the various arms of Lake Monduran, around Kolonga, but rarely have time to stop. But today I did have time and even though the sun was blazing and it was 10.30 am, I had to give this area a go.

Unsurprisingly, once back in Brisbane, I had been doing some tackle spending. I had replaced my G.Loomis GL2 with a G.Loomis Ultralight TSR Series , Fast Action, 2 to 6 lb, 6’7”rod. This is a beautifully crafted, incredibly light trout rod and even though it is a little longer than my preference, I think it will be a great Bribie Island flat’s rod. But I had also decided I wanted a fairly heavy shorter rod that would be easy to cast in the cramped, freshwater environments I have been exploring. It still needed to have enough power to subdue a big barramundi, if I came across one. Steve at Jones Tackle seems to now understand my light gear obsession and knows that I consider anything rated over 2-4kg to be really only suited to offshore big game fishing. After my recent bruising barramundi encounters, I recognised I was going to have to sacrifice ‘feel’ for strength but everything I tried seemed very stiff. In the end I compromised with a cheap 6’ Shimano Catana, rated 2 – 4kg. There is nothing very sophisticated about this rod but at $70 it was cheap enough to experiment with.

I parked in a shady spot pulled on some lightweight long trousers and my ankle boots and wandered off along the bank. The water was brown and still, almost every branch had a lizard on it and I could see tiny baitfish hovering around the fallen timber. I was not sure what would be in here. I was confident there would be fish of some kind. I tied on a GULP 4” Swimming Mullet in the Banana Prawn colour, on a 1/12th ounce, size 2 hook jighead. I was using 12lb fluorocarbon leader.

On my first cast I found a familiar species – the catfish. I moved along the banks casting at lots of snags and caught a catfish on almost everyone. I tried various plastics and it was the grub tails that were most attractive to the catfish. Whenever I let them sink and remain still on the bottom, for anything more than about 20 seconds, they would be hoovered up.

I walked towards an area where the lake opened up a bit and came across an enormous flock of birds escorted by a pretty big group of pelicans. This area looked really fishy with lots of fallen timber and presumably, some deeper holes.

There were lots more fish but they were all catfish – there were some really big brutes among them so the new Shimano Catana was christened with a good workout. After a couple of hours I gave up. It’s always good to explore and maybe a dawn or dusk session here might haven been more successful.

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1770 – The headlands , beaches and Round Hill Creek – 8 September 2013

Thursday to Sunday

Unfortunately, there is not much to report from the remaining days I had at 1770. The south-easterly blow persisted, so I was pretty much limited to fishing the rocks on the northern side of the 1770 headland and the creeks. The high seas stirred up the water and so it was soon fairly murky.

I drove into Eurimbula National Park and fished the creeks. I fished lighter and lighter, until I finally found a few whiting and small bream. I also went back down to Baffle Creek and failed to catch anything. I tried Wreck Rock and Flat Rock beaches, but the water was just too stirred up and the wind was still howling.

As you will see from previous trip reports, you often have to work hard for your dinner here, but this was a disaster. I gave up on Sunday and drove back inland to do a bit of work and see if I could catch something other than catfish, in the inland waterways.

1770 – Baffle Creek – Deepwater Creek – 4 September 2013

Wednesday

From Gayndah I drove north to Agnes Waters/ 1770 for the important part of the trip. Unfortunately the weather messed up my plans. No rain this time but a howling south-easterly blow.

I decided to do some exploring around Baffle Creek. I started on Wednesday morning at Flat Rock on Baffle Creek. There are a few submerged rock bars in this area. I walked out onto one in the pre-dawn light and cast a few soft plastics along the edge of the Mangroves.

Just after first light I caught a decent Bream – about 32 cm long, but as the sun came up everything went quiet. I moved down to the flats to the south of the boat ramp and cast around with a GULP 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I had a few hits in the shallows but I could not hook up. I slowed the retrieve and caught a small flounder.

I carried on for an hour but I could not catch anything more, so I decided to switch locations. I drove into Deepwater National Park and decided to stop and fish along Deepwater Creek. This is a long meandering waterway that works its way out to the sea near Rules Beach. It is fresh at the top end but then flows over a small weir to meet the salty water. It is shallow and tannin stained but there are a few deep holes.

I swapped down to very light gear – 8lb leader and 1/8th, 1 hook jighead and a 3” GULP Crazylegs shad in the smelt colour. After all the rain earlier in the year, there was plenty of water in the system, but it was not running over the weir. I stopped at a few breaks in the vegetation on the bank and put in a few casts – no luck.

I followed a track off the road, down to the weir itself and decided to cast at the snags along the banks. There was plenty of bait close to the bank and something was lunging at it, periodically. I cast in close to the snags and lost a few jig heads.

After about an hour of peppering the area, I had not had a touch. I was about to give up. I cast in, under an overhanging branch, a few inches from the bank. The lure started to sink and there was a tail splash as something engulfed it. It took off hard for mid-stream. Then it leapt out of the water and I could see it was a small Barramundi.

It calmed down and I pulled it up onto the concrete. I was delighted to have my first barramundi. It was sitting on the salty side of the weir and was a golden bronze colour. I did not measure it but it was about 40 cm long. I took a few photos and sent it on its way. It was just before noon.

The wind had forced me to spend time exploring and it had paid off.

1770 – Baffle Creek – Flat Rock Ramp – 10/11 June 2013

Monday/ Tuesday

By Monday work was done and I was on my way back to Brisbane. I did have time for a quick stop at 1770. The weather was far from encouraging with heavy rain and persistent strong southeasterly winds. So on Monday morning I trekked round to the stretch of coast between Workman’s Beach and the beach I call Getaway Beach. This area is quite sheltered in a strong southerly. The top of the tide was just before dawn and I tried everything, big and small soft plastic and hard bodies – nothing raised a bite. The water was stirred up and murky and the swell made things tough. Every time I fished with heavy lures, I pulled up lots of weed and displaced rubbish from the bottom. When I fished lighter, I could not keep the lures in the water. After a few hours I gave up.

The weather looked good for Jewfish at 1770

The weather looked good for Jewfish at 1770

Tried everything in the tackle bag

Tried everything in the tackle bag

In the afternoon I decided to drive back to Brisbane, via Baffle Creek. I arrived at the Flat Rock boat ramp, just after lunch, at the top of the incoming tide. The wind was still a strong southerly and the rock bars to the east of the boat ramp were all covered in at least 30 cm of water. This area took a pummeling from the flooding, earlier in the year and there was plenty of evidence, with grass and debris still high up, in the mangroves. The ramp and picnic area were badly damaged but have now been repaired.

I waded out on the biggest rock bar just west of the picnic area and cast around the edges. The tide turned and started to run out just after 1.00 pm. There are big rock bars on either side of this channel. They form a funnel in the middle and on a big tide the water really races through. The water was quite clean at high tide, but got dirtier and dirtier as it ran out.

I started with GULP and Zman soft plastic on 1/6th oz, 1/0 jigheads. I had a few bites and watch the bait fish follow the lures in. Across from me on the other side of the channel, something was feeding in the eddies, formed by the opposite rock bar. I tried to land a few long casts in the right spot but I could not tempt them.

After about an hour, I move back upstream to the west of the boat ramp and cast around in the shallows. I was now fishing with my all-time favourite plastic, the humble 4 “ GULP Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour, on a 1/8th oz, 1 jighead. I was now down to 8lb leader, in the hopes of attracting a fish. After a few casts I did. It was a small dusky flathead. I continued along the sandy banks, casting at the base of the mangroves and soon found some more. I caught six in the next hour, but only two would have been just over 40 cm.

At about 3.00pm it was time to pack up. Overall, I had had a pretty disappointing couple of weeks on the fishing front. The fish had been small and hard to find. However, I had enjoyed exploring some new territory and as always, learning what does not work can be as important as learning what does. I found that when the going gets tough small, natural coloured soft plastics, like the GULP 4/3″ Minnows and light leaders, still produce results. The Zman Minnowz did not produce a fish on this trip – and they had plenty of outings. I will have to try their natural coloured minnow shaped range, but I still think the GULP scent and softer texture give their lures the edge. The weather had made things very hard but I believe the big flush out will set the area up for some great fishing in late winter. I am planning to get back up here as soon as I can.

1770 – Eurimbula Creek – 8 May 2013

Wednesday

With the weather showing no signs of improving, I decided it was futile to keep trying on the rocks, so on Wednesday, I drove back out to Eurimbula Creek. I arrived a little after first light and the tide was running in. The water was not quite so dirty here. I went back to basics and started by fishing with small, lightly weighted soft plastics, first a GULP 3” Minnow in the Lime Tiger and then a 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour. After an hour with no luck I switched to a DUO Tetraworks Bivi, small, hard bodied vibe lure. This did not stir anything up either.

I decided to try a slightly bigger soft plastic and put on a GULP 4” Minnow, in the Pearl Watermelon colour. The tide was running in fast, so I also upped the weight to a 1/6th ounce, 1/0 hook jighead. The water had now come over the sandy edge of the main channel. I dropped the lure over the edge and then retrieved it, pausing for as long as I could, right at the edge. I felt the small bait fish attack the lure on each retrieve and then, after about 10 casts, a bigger fish grabbed it. It was a dusky Flathead – just over 40 cm. After a few pictures it went back.

I moved nearer to the mouth of the creek and put on a GULP 3” Jigging Grub in the Pumpkinseed colour. I lost a few of these to the fast flowing current and the fallen trees. I rigged up for the third time and aimed the soft plastic at eddies around one of the snags. It was hit on the drop and the fish went straight into the tangle of roots. With the Loomis GL2 light spin rod and 10lb fluorocarbon leader, I really did not have the power to fight a determined fish in heavy current – the fish was in charge. I backed off the drag a little and it swam out. I let it move about a metre away from the snag, tightened the drag and then increased the pressure again. It headed straight back in. We repeated this process 3 times until I eventually pulled out a 45 cm estuary cod. It was perfect cod terrain with overhanging mangrove roots and plenty of snags.

The rain showers kept coming. At about 10.00 am, I caught a couple of small grunter bream (javelin fish) – about 30 cm long. I had swapped back to the GULP 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour. I have caught plenty of these in the creeks around here, especially after heavy rain. I put them back and carried on fishing, up and down the creek bank, as high tide came and went.

By about 11.00 am I had had enough and drove back to Agnes Water.

1770 – Workmans Beach – 7 May 2013

Tuesday

The wild weather continued; strong south-easterly winds and plenty of rain. On Tuesday morning I braved the rocks at the southern end of Workman’s Beach, near Agnes Water. This area is sheltered from a southerly and south-easterly and there is plenty of fishy looking territory.

After a few days of big seas, the water was all stirred up and a milky brown colour. I started with soft plastics and then switched to slugs and hard bodies, but nothing yielded results. The sun came out mid-morning, but not for long. As the day wore on, the wind picked up. It then brought the clouds back in. Just after lunch, there was another downpour, so I gave up. Tuesday had been my first zero fish session for quite some time!

Nothing seemed to work today

Nothing seemed to work today

1770 – Eurimbula Creek – 6 May 2013

Monday

Where did the weather come from? I had checked the forecast before I left Brisbane and apart from a bit of south-easterly wind there was virtually no rain forecast for the week. I woke up on Sunday night to a massive rain storm at 1770. By dawn on Monday the rain was pouring down and the wind was blowing 20 knots from the south-east.

At about 10.00 am I went for a drive down towards 1770 to try and fish the north, sheltered side of the headland. I parked by the Captain Cook monument and walked down the water’s edge. The water was already brown and muddy after all the rain and the tide was about half way through the run out. I fished for 30 minutes and then another heavy shower came over and soaked me so I gave up.

I dried off and drove back out of Agnes Water and down the track to the mouth Eurimbula Creek. This area is pretty flat and there was plenty of water over the road at various spots along the route. A few hours of solid rain and the drains and creeks soon fill up. I got through alright and parked at the edge of the camp ground. Unsurprisingly there were no campers around.

The sky looked ominous but it had briefly stopped raining. Eurimbula Creek mouth is also a bit sheltered from a south-easterly. The water was just as dirty as Round Hill Creek and the tide was still running out. As the tide drops it reveals a steep mangrove lined bank on the south side of the creek mouth. This is great fish holding structure but it is a little difficult to get to and fish from. The tide runs out fast creating some good eddies around the fallen trees and mangrove roots.

I fished with a few different soft plastics – bright colours, natural colours, paddle tails, shrimps and minnows. I had a few bites and whenever I pulled a lure in, it was surrounded by bait but I did not catch anything.

I swapped to a DUO Tetraworks Bivi, a small sinking vibe lure and hoped the vibrations might stir the fish up. There had been a few surface bust ups, so there were some fish around. The DUO Bivi weighs 3.8 grams and 40mm long. It casts like a bullet and has a great action. I cast it out, up-stream towards the far bank and let it sink. I then hopped it along the bottom with the current and tried to swim it as close to the snags as I could. I repeated this a few times and felt a few bumps. After about 20 minutes of fishing this lure, it was smashed close to the snags. Fortunately the fish took off towards the middle of the stream. I was fishing with the light spin rod so I did not have much power. The fish used the current and felt decent. After a little bit of back and forth, I pulled a trevally up the sandy bank. It was hooked through the tail.

That was it for the day – the rain came pouring down again and I headed home.

1770 – Getaway Beach – Jewfish – 5 May 2013

Monday

A friendly tackle supplier is fed up with reading about my exploits with the very capable Shimano Catana and decided to give me an alternative rod to try out. It arrived on Saturday – a N.S Black Hole Cabin II – S-862 L Spin Rod. It is 2.59m long (8’6”) and rated 8-14 lb. It will throw up to a 30g lure or ½ oz jighead, for a soft plastic. It is designed for throwing small lures in the surf or off the rocks. NS Black Hole rods are made in Korea and have forged a strong reputation for durability, mainly in the US. It seemed like a good idea to put it to work. So on Sunday I decided to head for Agnes Water and 1770 for a few days.

I arrived in the late afternoon and went straight down to the beach opposite the 1770 Getaway resort, where I like to stay – http://www.1770getaway.com.au . They have great stand-alone cottages and an on-site restaurant / coffee shop which produces a magnificent lamb spit roast, twice a week. The best thing about the resort is that Michael, the owner, is a mad keen fisherman. He has good information on where to fish when the wind is blowing from almost any direction. He is always very willing to share his knowledge, just sit him down over a coffee and pick his brains.
I had matched the new N.S Black Hole Cabin II with my Shimano Sustain 4000 reel. I had it loaded with 15lb Super PE braid and decided on a 16lb fluorocarbon leader, to start with. The beach is about a 10 minute walk from the resort and has a number of rocky out crops. It is just round the corner from Workman’s Beach, which is a little more sheltered, if there is a strong south-easterly blowing.

It was about 3.30 pm by the time I was ready to fish. The water was pretty stirred up and the swell was building. The wind was on shore at about 10 to 15 knots and it was bright and sunny. High tide would be at about 5.45 pm and the moon was about three days off new. I walked out on to one of the rocky out crops and loaded up with a Powerbait 4” Ripple Shad on the gold and black colour on a ¼ 2/0 jighead. I fished the lure along the edges of the rocks but after about 15 minutes, I had not had a bite. I decided to change to a heavier 3/8th 2/0 jighead, to make sure my lure was on the bottom. I also swapped soft plastics to a 5” GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the New Penny colour.

I fished around the rocks for another 20 minutes or so and felt a few bumps. The swell was up, I had a new rod and I did not know the terrain, so it was hard to tell if I was bumping into fish or the bottom.

Just before 4.00 pm, I lifted the lure from the bottom and felt a bit of resistance. I dropped it back down for a few moments, then struck. The rod tip started to wiggle and bent over. The new rod behaved well and soaked up the lunges and the Shimano Sustain drag took care of the hard initial runs. The tricky bit was the swell and the rocks – 16lb leader will withstand a Jewfish mouth for a while but it won’t last long if it rubs against the barnacles.

Fortunately the swell was pushing the fish in and there was a nice ledge at water level. I took my time and left the drag alone. The swell pushed the fish on to the ledge and I jumped down and grabbed it.

It was a great looking Jewfish – 77cm long and in fantastic condition. It had completely swallowed the jighead, which was now very obviously lodged in its throat. It had little chance of survival, so I decided to keep it and share it with my hosts at the 1770 Getaway resort.

I continued fishing until dusk but did not find any more. It had been a great opening session and I had successfully christened the new rod which had performed well.

1770 – Getaway Beach – Flathead, Dart, Perch – 12 August 2012

Sunday

The wind was persistent and it was another noisy night with debris everywhere in the morning. It was my last day at 1770 so I had to venture out. I chose to walk out of the 1770 Getaway Resort down to the local beach.

The wind was blowing from the south west but this beach has a few rocky coves where I found some sheltered spots. I had my first success of the week with a small hard bodied DUO Tetraworks Bivi sinking vibe lure. I had struggled to fish with this lure, in the wind, all week – it is too light for these conditions. It was hit, close into the rocks by a small Stripey Perch. I caught two more in the same spot and then moved on.

I worked around the rocky coves and after a while I switched back to soft plastics. I was using the light rod and reel again and I had dropped down to a 10lb leader, to see if this improved my catch rate. I had chosen a 1/6th 1/0 jighead and started by fishing around the rocks with a GULP 3” Minnow in the Rainbow colour. After about an hour of casting and moving, casting and moving I was on a north facing rocky outcrop. I dropped the soft plastic about 15 metres out and let it sink for ten seconds. I retrieved it slowly along the bottom. About a metre off the rocks I lifted the plastic and clearly saw a small Flathead shoot up and grab the lure. It ran with the minnow and then spat it out before I could set the hook.

I put in another 5 casts all around the same area. On number 6, I felt a solid thud, on the drop. I set the hook and the fish took off. This was a bigger Flathead. I played it out and brought it in close to a sloping rock. After several attempts I used the swell to get it up the rocks. It was the best fish of the week at just over 65cm. I put it in a pool and looked for more, but could not find any. I caught a few tiny Dart and then decided to pack up. I cleaned the fish and carried it up the hill.

Fishing in this area is not always simple but when you are not catching anything, there is nearly always somewhere else to try, just a few minutes away. You can head for the creeks or try the other side of the headland, if the wind is too strong. It’s a great spot with fantastic scenery and you rarely have to share your beach with anyone. I hope to be back here again, very soon.

1770 – Deepwater National Park – Wreck Rock – 11 August 2012

Saturday

The wind was still threatening 25 Knots south westerly but I went for a dawn fish to see if I could find the Flathead again, at Wreck Rock. Clear skies made for an amazing sunrise and I waded through the shallows and out on to the same rocks where I had encountered the big mother Flathead, a few days earlier. I went for the same set up with a 15lb fluorocarbon leader, 1/6th 1/0 jighead and a GULP 3” Minnow in the Rainbow colour. The tide was a few hours further advanced so there was a little more water over the area and it was crystal clear. The south westerly was ruffling the surface bit it had not yet really picked pace.

I had no luck in the same location so I moved about 5 metres to the south and cast out into the open water beside another big bommie. I was leaving plenty of time for the lure to sink before I started the retrieve. There was a quite a bit of swell and the wind was catching the line, both of these factors would slow the jighead sink rate, quite considerably. I decided to count slowly to ten each time I cast before starting the retrieve. I still had no interest. It was now around 7.45 am and the wind was picking up again.

I swapped to a bigger soft plastic, the GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour – black and pink. The tactic worked and I soon had a fish on. It came up to the surface and shook its head angrily, but after a couple of runs I had it safely in the keeper pool – it was about 45cm long.

In the next twenty minutes, I caught another two fish, about the same size and dropped another. Then things went quiet, so I moved again and swapped to a GULP Jerkshad in the Satay Chicken colour – yellow and pumpkinseed. This produced results and I caught two more, both about 45 cm and one smaller one.

By around 10.00am the tide had turned in and the wind was making it too difficult (and cold) to fish. I cleaned the three fish that I decided to keep and kept an eye out for raiders as I did so. I always prefer to clean the fish in the saltwater; they definitely taste better this way.

I was glad to have found the fish again and it looked like Flathead were going to be the staple catch this week. I then went back to my cabin for a shower and a hot coffee. I had seen no evidence of big bait schools around. There were no Tuna or Tailor passing through. There were no birds working or big surface bust ups, perhaps the cold winds had blown them away?

1770 – Deepwater National Park – Flat Rock – 10 August 2012

Friday

After a couple of weeks of mostly perfect fishing weather, two high pressure fronts were heading up the Queensland coast. Cold south westerly winds to 25 knots were forecast for Friday and I woke to the sound of palm fronds crashing down and a very cool breeze.

I stepped out just on dawn but it was too windy, so I drove down to 1770 for breakfast. I sorted out my gear, re-loaded the fishing vest and added a few drops of oil to the Stella. By lunchtime the wind had dropped a little, so I decided to drive down to Flat Rock beach, in Deepwater National Park, to the south of Agnes Water.

When there is a westerly blow the steep beach provides some shelter from the wind. The tide was about half way in and it was just washing over the long flat rock that gives the beach its name. The westerly wind had flattened the sea but once my legs were wet, the wind chill was nasty. Fortunately it was a bright sunny day.

I started at about noon at the south end of the rock and walked along casting off the seaward edge. As the waves rose over the rock you could see plenty of baitfish hugging the edge. The water was crystal clear. I was fishing with the light rod, a 1/6th 1/0 jighead, 8lb fluorocarbon leader and a 2” GULP Shrimp in the Natural colour. I felt plenty of touches and after about 10 minutes caught a tiny Stripey Perch. I caught a few more, all hiding in close to the edge. None of them were big enough to keep. I moved further along and the lure was hit by a better fish – this time it was a Bream, about 30cm long. I released and carried on.

The waves were now breaking over the rock and I was soaked and pretty cold. I let the soft plastic lie on the bottom for a while and when I lifted it I had another fish on – a flounder – plenty of species along here.There was now too much water washing over the rock and I was too cold so I gave up and went to thaw out in the sun.

I went back to my cabin and after a few hours off, I went down the track to the beach. I walked up on to a slightly sheltered rock and cast a small 3″ Gulp Minnow in the Sardine colour. The wind carried the 1/6th 1/0 jig head a long way and I slowly retrieved it. At the base of the rocks in the foam, a fish took it and made for cover. It took some line then felt like a brick – typical Cod behavior – they turn sideways and try to wedge themselves under an over hang or rock. I only had the 8lb leader in place so I let it swim down and hide and loosened the drag. After a couple of minutes it swam out and I landed it. No monster but a reasonably fat little cod. A few more casts produced nothing and the wind was just too strong to feel anything, so I gave up for the second time.

1770 – Wreck Rock – 9 August 2012

Thursday

The weather was perfect for fishing, so I decided to stop in the town of 1770 for a few days. I love camping here, at Wreck Rock beach, but I did not have my tent this week. It was also a bit too cold. I decided to stay at the 1770 Getaway Resort – http://www.1770getaway.com.au/. It’s a great spot, just out of Agnes Waters. It has its own café with fantastic food and a number of upscale cabins. You can walk 10 minutes to a great fishing beach close to the resort or drive a few kilometers back to 1770. The four wheel drive track to Deepwater National Park is also only a few kilometers to the south.

The most important thing about the resort is that Michael, the owner, is a keen fisherman, so he can give you an excellent update on what is biting. Michael showed me a few pics of some 10kg + Jewfish he has been catching off the local rocks and I could hardly wait to get down there. We went down to the local beach on Wednesday afternoon. The terrain looked perfect for Jewfish with bommies, gutters and overhangs everywhere. I tried some big GULP Jerkshads in some promising locations but did not get a touch. The water was very clear and the moon phase was not ideal for Jew – but the area looks very promising.

On Thursday I was up at about 5.30 am. It was a clear cool morning and low tide would be at about 7.30 am. I drove down the four wheel drive track into Deepwater National Park. I stopped at Middle Rock and fished the rocks through the dawn with my light spin outfit. I tried a number of soft plastics but I only had a few touches. At about 8.30 am I moved down to Wreck Rock.

It was just after low tide and I have always found this is the best time to fish here. You can walk out on to the rocks on the north and south sides of the small bay and cast around the submerged bommies and into the channels between them. I started at the north side. There is always a fair amount of swell here so I opted for a 1/6th 1/0 jighead and tried a few soft plastics. I was flicking a GULP 3” Minnow in the lime tiger colour. I have had a few big bust offs here, so I had 16lb leader in place.

I felt some solid bites, on the bottom close to the edge of the rocks, I slowed everything down and let the plastic float to the bottom. I paused and counted to ten slowly. When I lifted the rod the fish had swallowed the plastic. I pulled it up – a small Flathead around 35cm long. I have caught a few Flathead around these rocks – usually the Flagtailed, sand Flathead. This one was a Dusky with the tell-tale spot on its tail.

The next cast produced a slightly bigger one and then another. They were all Dusky Flathead, just under 40cm. I put on a bigger soft plastic – a GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. On the second cast, I connected with a bigger fish. This one was over 40cm so it went into the keeper pool. They kept coming, every second or third cast. I caught 12 over the next hour. I put 4 into the keeper pool.

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I was about to stop fishing, as the advancing tide would soon stop me from getting back across the rocks. I cast the Jerkshad back out. A fish grabbed it at the foot of the rocks and, initially it felt like another small Flathead. It took a bit of line and then paused. Then all hell broke loose and the fish charged off towards open water. I tightened the drag and started winding. The whole area is surrounded by barnacle covered rocks so I had to try and subdue this fish quickly. The leader was holding, but the fish was going mad. I caught a glimpse and realized I had found the big mother Flathead that all the others had been hanging out with. She turned sideways in the wave and I could see she was a 70cm + fish. I pulled her round a bommie and miraculously the leader held, but she took off again. I almost had the drag locked up and eventually got her to the base of the rocks at my feet. But as soon as I tried to drag her free of the water, the jighead bent open under the strain and the fish slowly waved goodbye with its tail as it slunk off.

She would have been too big to keep but it would have been nice to have a photo. I kept the two biggest fish in the keeper pool and released the other two. I gutted the fish and washed them out in the salt water and then lay them on their backs on the rocks beside me. I moved about a metre away to rinse my knife and suddenly saw a shadow above me. In the flash of an eye the bird swooped and grabbed one of the fish. It flew off but only just stayed clear of the water and eventually perched on a far off tree to enjoy its free meal. So I ended up with just one.

Deepwater National Park, Wreck Rock & Flat Rock – 12 October 2011

Tuesday & Wednesday

I continued to fish the beaches and rocks of Deepwater National Park, just south of Agnes Waters, but the weather was quite changeable. I tended to catch a few fish early in the morning when there was a light south-easterly and then things would go quiet in the afternoon as the wind turned round to a northerly.

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I fished the morning high tide at Flat Rock on Tuesday. The rock was covered and I cast from the beach at its inner edge. The Stripeys were sitting under the edge and relentlessly attacked the GULP 3” Pearl Watermelon Minnow. Every now and then I would find a patch of Bream and I caught about four keeper size fish, but none were bigger than 30 cm. There were also a few Whiting. A school of something was moving up and down feeding a hundred meters beyond the rock and the birds where dive-bombing.

At low tide on Wednesday I walked out over the oyster covered rocks at the southern tip of Wreck Rock bay. I have been monstered in this spot on several occasions and also seen the Tuna come in close enough to cast at. The overhangs at the base of the rocks hide plenty of resident fish. I decided to try something new and rigged a GULP 7” Sandworm in the Blood colour, on a 1/6th 2/0 jighead. I lost a couple to the small Dart and Butter Bream and then bang! I was hooked up to a better fish. It headed straight down into the rocks and fortunately I had some 16lb leader on. I pulled it out and landed it with the aid of the wash. It was the best Stripey of the week at about 35cm. This is about as big as they get inshore. I cast out again in the same spot and caught a few smaller ones. I carried on fishing around these rocks for about another hour as the water ran out to low tide. As I was retrieving a cast, in close to the rocks, I felt a thump and then zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. It was a very hard hit by a decent fish, but suddenly the line went slack and it was gone. I retrieved a mashed soft plastic sand worm. It must have changed its mind.

It had not been a spectacular week of fishing, I had fed myself, enjoyed the surroundings and caught plenty of fish. But I had seen evidence of some monsters lurking and witnessed a few big hook ups. As always, there was just enough to convince me that I need to get back up here soon!

The Catwalk & Tom’s Creek 1770 – 10 October 2011

Monday

I decided it was time to look for some serious fish. This area is a ‘Mecca’ for land based fisherman looking to catch big pelagic species. The one place that everyone heads for when they are up here is the ‘Catwalk’.

1770 - Looking north towards the Catwalk


The ‘Catwalk’ on the eastern side of 1770 headland is strictly a heavy gear fishing location. It is one of the best land based fishing spots on the east coast of Australia. This is because it is one of the few places where the East Australian Current comes within casting distance of the shore. On a clear, calm day you can see the current line snaking straight past the foot of the rocks. When the pods of Tuna break the surface they are almost always swimming near or along the current line, chasing the bait schools that move with it. This doesn’t mean catching fish here is easy. For one thing most of the fish on offer are big – 10kg and above. This means you need patience, heavy gear and a good gaff, to stand a chance of landing something. The food chain is also highly developed, there are plenty of lazy sharks around who will happily rob you of your fish, as you bring it in and if they don’t get it, the two or three enormous resident Groper will regularly snaffle big fish at the foot of the rocks.

The Catwalk 1770 - on a busy day


My thanks to the various locals who fish these rocks – particularly Dennis and George who are always willing to give me an update on what has been happening and which lures, baits, tides are working best. When I arrived on the Catwalk this week, there had been plenty of big fish hook ups but not many successful captures. The Tuna had arrived in the second week of September and some big Spanish Mackerel had also been wreaking havoc. On the Sunday of my visit George had landed a monster 25kg Giant Trevally which he had snared with a 130mm fluorescent yellow, bibless minnow, cranked along just below the surface. The Spanish Mackerel had been grabbing poppers, slugs and bait and the best bite time seemed to be sunrise through to about 9.00 am.

On the morning I fished the Catwalk there was an experienced crew of land based fisherman from Byron Bay down there and a few others. Just after first light, one guy hooked up with what appeared to be a good sized Spanish Mackerel. He had been casting and retrieving a silvery blue, 140mm surface popper. He played it for a few minutes and began to make some headway. Then suddenly the line went slack as a shark swallowed the fish whole and bit clean through the wire trace.

We all started casting again – slugs, poppers and bibless minnow lures. Then the guys at the top of the rocks shouted that a pod of Blue Fin Tuna were heading our way. As they went by we all timed our casts and let rip. Six of us cast into the pod – one guy hooked up. He had a solid connection with a fish and after a few big initial runs, he started to put some pressure on it. It had headed back towards the mouth of Round Hill Creek. It was clearly a big fish as his attempts to get back line where met with more blistering runs. Unfortunately, it was now heading in shore over the rocky and reefy area directly north of the Catwalk. Suddenly the line went slack – the fish was gone – Shark? Rocks? We will never know.

I rigged a small soft plastic and caught a tiny Trevally which one of the Byron crew put out under a balloon. After 20 minutes or so, no more than 4 metres from the shore there was a huge swirl in the water as a Mackerel hit the live bait and almost simultaneously, was swallowed by a sizeable Shark. Miraculously the livebait was intact, but with a neat triangular Mackerel bite on its side.

The shark ate the Mackerel that tried to eat this Trevally

After a couple more hours of casting, there had been no more hook ups so I decided to try some of the land based fishing opportunities in Round Hill Creek. I headed down a four wheel drive track to the edge of Toms Creek a small mangrove lined tributary on the south side of Round Hill Creek. There are a few openings in the mangroves where you can fish the creek. It is a shallow system with a strong tidal flow, so it is best to fish it around the high tide, when the water slows.

Mangrove fishing - Tom's Creek 1770


I arrived about noon and rigged a Gulp 3” Minnow soft plastic on a 1/8th 1 jighead. There were already plenty of midges around so I covered my head and gave myself a good coating of insect repellent. The submerged rocks and mangrove roots looked like good hiding places for Mangrove Jacks, but I suspect the water was not yet warm enough for them.

Grunter -Tom's Creek 1770

I fished across the sandy/ muddy bottom of the creek, occasionally getting snagged on submerged rocks and water logged branches. I caught Moses Perch, Bream, Whiting, a few grunter Bream and tiny Trevally, none where big enough to keep but I decided this was definitely a spot to return at dawn or dusk, when the tides were right.

Middle Rock and Flat Rock – 1770 – 9 October 2011

Sunday

The storm passed and I woke around 4.00 am thinking the sun was coming up. In fact it was the moon – high above, in a very clear sky. It was a few days off full and so bright, that I did not need a torch to get the billy on and brew up some tea. After a few nights of instant noodles, I needed some protein, so it was time to stop looking for trophy fish and go and catch something to eat.

I started at dawn at Middle Rock. High tide would be at about 7.00 am and first light was about 5.00 am. It is just a few km north of my campsite at Wreck Rock, in Deepwater National Park. There are three main rocky outcrops with rubble, coral bommies and sandy patches in between. As the sky brightened only the tops of a few of the bommies and the big rocks were visible. I have had a few good Trevally from this spot on high water.

I was using the Shimano Catana Light rod again but put on a 16lb leader – just in case something big appeared. I loaded up with the GULP 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th 1 jighead. I cast out, as close as I could to the edge of the half-submerged bommy. I started a quick retrieve – there are too many rocks to let the soft plastic hang around in one spot. I had only jerked the rod tip a couple of times and then I had a fish. It was a nice Bream about 30cm long. A few more casts produced another. Then I caught a couple of tiny Moses Perch and finally a couple of smaller Bream.

The water was calm and glassy and crystal clear, despite the storm. At about 9.00 am I drove up to Flat Rock and waded out onto the partially submerged rock, to fish the rest of the run out tide. Flat Rock is great to fish on once you can stand safely on the rock itself. There are a couple of breaks in the rock that runs the length of the beach and these are good fish congregating areas.

I started at the south end where the front of the rock has an almost vertical edge, in some places. These are usually a good Bream spots as there is plenty of wash. Sure enough, as I wandered along the rock casting into no more than 1.5m of water, I caught about five more Bream, a handful of small Whiting, a tiny Bar Tailed Flathead, Butter Bream and lots of small Stripey Perch and Dart. All of the Bream were just about 30cm – so I kept the biggest three. I was impressed with the range of fish but disappointed by the size.

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I moved down to the southern end where the rock breaks down into a surf beach dotted with submerged bommies, but by about 11.00 am the northerly wind had come up again and the fish seemed to stop biting. I cleaned up the Bream in the rock pools and headed back to camp for some hammock time.

Wreck Rock and Middle Creek – 8 October 2011

Saturday

I was still camped at Wreck Rock in Deepwater National Park. The best fishing is around the low tide on the local beaches. But I had morning highs for a few days so I started right out the front of the camp site at Wreck Rock, standing on the southern corner of the bay cast into the wash from the rocks. There was a very light swell and a light north-easterly breeze. As the first glow lit the horizon things looked very promising. I started with a 5” Jerkshad soft plastic in the Pumpkinseed colour, rigged on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead. After a few casts and no hits I swapped down to a smaller 3” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour.

The sun had now crossed the horizon and unfortunately the wind was picking up. Right at the base of the rocks I felt a solid hit and realized I had a fish on. I reeled it clear of the water – it was a Dusky Flathead – around 35cm long. I released it and carried on fishing. Some other campers had pulled two 50cm + Flathead from these rocks the day before so I was hopeful I might find a bigger one. I swapped the plastic for a brighter coloured Nuclear Chicken version and then, for 2” Shrimp pattern in the Pepper Prawn colour – none of these tempted the fish. Finally, I switched to a 5” turtle back worm in the Pepper Prawn colour and I caught a few small Dart.

The wind had been very changeable over the last few days. It was swirling round from the south to the north and back again. Finally it settled into a very solid northerly – 25 knots and forced me off this spot. I needed to find some sheltered water to fish and decided to drive up to Middle Creek, to fish the main channel on the bottom of the tide – which would be around 1.00 pm. Middle Creek is reached along another four-wheel drive track off the road into Agnes Waters. The creek has a wide tidal estuary that forms a fairly narrow channel at its mouth, at low tide. You can walk or wade along the south side of the channel for about a kilometer. The track in is currently very easy but can be a challenge after heavy rain. This whole area is effectively a tidal swamp and parts of the road quickly get submerged in a big storm.

By the time I got out to fish the wind was howling, blowing the sand off the tops of the banks like a scene from Lawrence of Arabia. I walked out towards the mouth and started casting, as I waded across a lagoon of shallow water – less than 30 cms deep , I saw a couple of decent Flathead scatter. They are always in less water than you think! I decided to start with a 4” Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour – this is my all time favorite Flathead soft plastic. I rigged it on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead as I needed to keep in touch with the bottom. I cast and cast and cast but to no avail. I swapped down to a 2” Shrimp in the Pepper Prawn colour and almost immediately pulled up a tiny 25cm Bar-tailed Flathead. I walked further out, towards the mouth and after another 30 minutes caught another Flathead – this time it was a Dusky, approximately 30 cm long. Then I caught a few Whiting and saw a few Bream in the clear water, but I could not tempt them.

The sky had turned a scary shade of grey so I walked back to the car. As I got in the heavens opened and a major deluge started. I drove carefully back along the track which was already underwater in a number of places. The ground had not really softened and the going was pretty solid but I could see how easily this track could become impassable. It had been another morning with no really decent fish. The weather had not helped and, in my experience, a northerly wind often turns the fish off. I spent a wet and windy night in my tent which, thankfully kept the rain out and I prayed to wake up to some sunshine and a light south-easterly breeze.

1770 – Ocean Drive Bay – 6 October 2011

Thursday

I have just returned from a week of fishing at 1770 and its surrounds. I camped at Wreck Rock, about 15kms south of the town of 1770. Wreck Rock is located in Deepwater National Park and can be reached by driving south, out of Agnes Waters, on a sandy four-wheel drive track. There are about a dozen campsites dotted through the trees behind the beach, a composting toilet and cold, outdoor shower, fed by bore water. There is also a large rainwater tank for drinking water. It is a very quiet spot and is an ideal base to fish the surrounding headlands and beaches.

I did a little research on Google Earth prior to this trip and located a few spots that I would try to fish. I was looking for spots with a bit of deep water and structure, in close to the shore. My trips to this area, over the last couple of years, have usually produced similar results – I can usually catch a respectable tally of Trevally, Bream, Dart, Whiting, Spanish Flags (Stripey Perch) and the odd Flathead that provide my daily sustenance. But the bigger fish can be harder to locate. There are very fishy looking spots at the end of almost all the beaches and bays, but they do not all hold fish. One problem is that the big fish in this area, the pelagic species – move fast and they keep moving, chasing the bait schools up and down the beaches. If you are land based, you cannot really follow them. You just have to pick a likely spot and hope they will come by. Invariably, by the time they arrive you have downgraded to your light gear, to try to catch the smaller fish and so when the rod bends over and the reel starts screaming, you don’t have the power you need to subdue the fish.

I started by fishing the marked areas in this aerial photo

On Thursday morning I focused on the headlands just south of the main look out at 1770 (see aerial photo). The bay I was fishing was just below Ocean Drive. It is a sheltered cove with plenty of bommies and a beach covered on boulders. I started on the north side, fishing from atop a large rock that sticks out into the bay. I was using a new rod – the Shimano Catana Coastline Light. It is a light weight 10’ 6” rod that is rated 3-6 kg. It is ideal for casting soft plastics on 1/8th oz to 3/8th oz jigheads for Dart, Bream and Whiting but it will also land bigger Tailor, Trevally and even school Jewfish, if carefully handled. The longer length means it casts well in the surf. I was using a Shimano Stradic 3000 spin reel – which is probably a bit small for the rod. I had the reel loaded with 12kg breaking strain braid and a couple of metres of 12lb fluorocarbon leader.

It was about half an hour after dawn when I started fishing. The first cast produced a fish – a 25cm Stripey or Spanish Flag. These fish are everywhere around the rocks. They are part of the Mangrove Jack family and taste fantastic. Unfortunately they rarely get much bigger than 35 to 40cm and when you catch them around the rocks they are usually under 30 cm. The legal size is 25cm but they are not really worth keeping until they reach about 30 cm. At this size they have a couple of decent fillets that will make a meal. I let the first one go and caught a few more on the next few casts. I was using a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Pearl Watermelon colour on a 1/8th 1 hook jighead.

A 25cm Stripey or Spanish Flag


I moved around to the other side of the bay and cast out into the middle. I felt plenty of hits from small fish and eventually hooked a Whiting – also just about 25cm long. A few more followed and I decided to switch to a 1/4 oz blade lure. This immediately attracted the attention of the Dart and I caught several small ones. They did not get any bigger so I swapped back to the soft plastic Pearl Watermelon minnow and moved further round the bay to the next headland. Here, I cast out into the wash behind a half-submerged bommie. I felt a few more hits and hooked up with more small Stripeys. The wind was getting stronger from the north so I decided to give up for the day. I had not really caught anything decent but I had explored another new spot and caught a few fish.

Bribie Island – Bridge to Boat Hire Jetty – 2 June 2010

Thursday

The weather forecast was not great, but a fishing day should never be given up on! I started on the island side of the Bribie Bridge, just after 5.00 am. It was cold but the south-westerly breeze was light and the tide was about half way out. There were prawns jumping everywhere. They were under the bridge lights, in close to the pylons, but the first couple of soft plastic lures I tried – the GULP 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour and the 4” Minnow in the Vader colour – did not get any bites.

Big Pike lurk around the Bribie Bridge lights

I switched to a 2” Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour. I was fishing it on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead and using a metre of 12lb fluorocarbon leader, tied on to 10lb Fireline mainline. It was almost first light now and I am not sure if it was the light or the colour change, but I immediately started catching fish. The first was a monster Pike – around 40 cm, then an undersized Flathead and then a small Chopper Tailor, then more Pike. After a fish a cast for about 20 minutes, I finally found a 42cm Flathead that I could keep for dinner.

A 42 cm Flathead

As the sun came up I waded north, towards the boat hire spot and after plenty of casts and plenty of Pike, finally got another Flathead that was just over 40 cm. By 8.30am the wind was a solid south-westerly and I had had enough.

1770 – Flat Rock & Red Rock – Blubber Lip – Deep Water National Park – 16 May 2011

Monday

I woke up at around 5.00 am with the wind rustling in the trees. Out on the beach at Wreck Rock, it was a howling south-easterly, so I drove up the track to 1770. I was hoping to have a fish on the sheltered side of the headland but when I arrived, I realised that even that was too blowy. I watched the sunrise and then had a coffee and some breakfast from the bakery at Agnes Waters. I found a sunny spot and pondered where to fish next.
I decided to head for the northern end of Flat Rock beach. At the end of the beach there is rocky headland known as Red Rock. It’s a long walk – about 2.5 km, but the sun was shining and on the way there, at least, the wind was behind me.

I stopped to cast in a few spots along the way. I had to use a ¼ oz size 1 hook jighead to make an impact on the wind. I was fishing it with the GULP 3” Pearl Watermelon Minnow which resembles the small whitebait that the Tuna have been feeding on. I caught a few Dart and Whiting towards the northern end of the rock, where the water was running out of the long gutter and into the ocean.

Eventually I reached the end of the beach and clambered over the rocks known as Red Rock. There is a small corner in this spot that is sheltered from the south-easterly winds and a couple of hours either side of high water, it is a good fishing spot. I cast the Minnow soft plastic close into the foot of the rocks and immediately got a few bites. Next cast I caught a small Dart and then a Stripy Perch – about 30 cm long. The fish were in close to the rocks in just over a metre of water. After half an hour I was running out of water and I had not caught anything worth keeping.

I headed back over the rocks to Flat Rock and waded out onto the northern tip of the rock. I then walked back south along the top of the rock, casting all along the edge. About 600 metres from the northern end of the beach there is a gig drain through a gap in the rock. I cast out in front of it and a fish grabbed the lure and made a short run. I struck but the fish dropped the lure. I paused and struck again – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz I was on. The fish swam straight under the rock and soon I could feel my line rubbing every time I tried to put some tension on it. I let it go slack and after 10 seconds or so pulled it tight again. I made a bit of head way but then zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz straight back under the rock. I employed the same procedure 3 or 4 times and eventually the fish swam out. It was a big Blubber Lip Bream around 50 cm long and over 2 kg. I bled and gutted it straight away and decided to keep it for supper. I made the long trek back along the beach – into the wind and decided it was time to head back to Brisbane. I have read a lot of criticism of the taste of the Blubber Lip Bream but my mob scoffed the lot at dinner – the fillets tasted pretty good pan-fried with lime and fish sauce.

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It had been a great week but the fishing had been hard work. I was constantly struggling to find the better fish and the Tailor and better sized Bream, really had not shown up. By the next full moon I would think the Tailor will be more prolific around 1770 – particularly if the Whitebait thicken up their numbers. The water needs to cool a bit more for the winter species, but I think the fishing will get better and better this year, so I hope I am back up here before too long.

1770 – Middle Rock – Flat Rock – Deepwater National Park – 15 May 2011

Sunday

On Sunday morning the weather was beginning to change. The breeze was moving round from the south west to the south east. It was much warmer and conditions were good as the south easterly was still light. I had worked out that low tide presented the better fishing opportunities at Flat Rock and Wreck Rock and so, with high tide a few hours after dawn, I headed back to Middle Rock and more specifically the set of rocks in the middle of Middle Rock.

Middle Rock - an hour before high tide pre-dawn

Jupiter and Venus had been bright and visible in the eastern sky just before dawn, all week. Since about Thursday, Mercury was also clearly visible. Venus was so bright that it cast a clear light across the water. It had been similarly bright when I was fishing down at Iluka, in NSW, last month and I wonder if it has an effect on the fish.

I was fishing with the heavy rod – the Daiwa 9’ 6” Demon Blood, matched with a Shimano Stradic 6000 reel, loaded with 20lb braid and a 30lb fluorocarbon leader. I was hoping to encounter some bigger fish at dawn and thought that the cold snap would have got the Tailor going. My camping neighbour had caught a few off the beach to the south of Wreck Rock, the evening before. They had taken cut up Pike baits about an hour after sunset.

I rigged up with a GULP 5” Pumpkinseed Jerkshad soft plastic lure on a 3/8 oz 2/0 jighead. I cast all round the rocks in the pre-dawn light. I could not raise a bite so I dropped down to a ¼ oz 1/0 jighead and 16lb Fluorocarbon leader and cast around again. Third cast, in very shallow water, only a couple of metres from the beach, I had a fish. It was a Bream about 30cm long. I released it and cast back in the same spot. I hooked up straight away – it was another Bream – slightly bigger at around 34cm. I carried on but all I could not find anything bigger so at 8.00 am I went back to camp for breakfast.

Middle Rock Bream

Whilst there were fish around it was becoming clear that this week was right in the middle of the changeover between the dominance of the warm weather species –Tuna, Mackerel, Dart, Whiting and the emergence of the cold weather species – Tailor, Bream, Flathead. The air temperature had been bitterly cold but the water was still very warm. It was hard work trying to figure out what to try next!

After breakfast I decided I would fish the run out tide at Flat Rock. The moon was almost full so the tide would be very low. I arrived just after 10.00 am and the long rock was already exposed. I waded out and climbed up onto it. I was back to the light spin rod, using a 1/6th 1 jig head, 12lb leader and 2” and 3” GULP Shrimp and Minnow soft plastics. For the next few hours I walked all the way along the rock to the northern end of the beach, casting out over the edge. There was no shortage of fish but the problem was size. Everything seemed to be under 30 cm long. I caught Whiting, Flathead, Bream, Stripy Perch, Dart and Long Toms, but nothing was worth keeping. By 2.00 pm the wind was getting up and the tide was running in so I gave up.