1770 Getaway Beach, Flat Rock & Wreck Rock – 6/7 November 2014

Thursday/ Friday

The weather stayed good at 1770 on Thursday and Friday. The winds were light northerlies and the sea flattened out. Unfortunately the low tide was in the middle of the day which meant the fishing timetable was not ideal. Low tide just after dawn and dusk would be my favourite, but you cannot have everything you desire.

I fished at Flat Rock and Wreck Rock on the dawn high tides without much luck. As the tide ran out towards lunch time, I found more and more fish. But they were generally small dart, stripey and moses perch and the odd whiting. During these middle of the day low tides I had to drop down to a 1/8thounce, size 2 hook jighead, 8lb fluorocarbon leader and GULP 3” Minnow soft plastics to entice the fish into action. Typically each session would produce a couple of good size dart and I kept a few for dinner.

Dart is really about the only fish I enjoy eating raw. It needs to be bled soon after capture, filleted and refrigerated and then left for about 12 hours.Then comes the tricky bit – take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature, before you eat it. The flesh is firm and perfect with a little chilli soy or fish sauce and lime.

Incidentally, the more I catch fish the less I eat it in restaurants. When you know the texture, feel and taste of really fresh fish, it is very hard to eat something that has been sitting around, even a few days. I encourage everybody to catch some bream, whiting or flathead during the holidays, fillet them and eat them. Yes, it’s a bit of a hassle to take the fish home and clean it up, and sometimes it hardly seems worth it – but you will definitely taste the difference. It is also often the smaller fish like dart and whiting, that taste the sweetest.

In desperation I even tried a tiny popper at Flat Rock – hoping to tempt some larger whiting. Instead, this just caught another small dart. A constant stream of small fish still made the fishing fun and as usual the scenery and sunrises were spectacular.

1770 – Wreck Rock & Deepwater Creek – 5 November 2014

Wednesday

Lunchtime

I had a lie in on Friday morning and waited to fish the lunchtime low tide at Wreck Rock Beach. I drove down into Deepwater National Park at about 10.00 am. The skies were clear and the forecast strong north easterly wind had not materialised. I rock hopped out, about half way along the peninsula and cast out a  GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic, in the Lime Tiger colour. I was fishing with 10lb fluorocarbon leader and a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 sized hook jighead. The first taker was a small moses perch, who was hiding close to the rocks. I caught a few of these, (none big enough to keep) then moved a little further along.

I cast out in front of the rocks, into the gaps between the bommies. I soon found some more moses perch and then some small dart. I moved around the rocks and swapped through a few different coloured soft plastics. The brighter colours in the three inch size soft plastic minnows – particularly those with some speckle in the colour, seemed to catch the best fish and the dart gradually got bigger. But I could not find any significant fish at Wreck Rock and by about 3.30 pm, the incoming tide pushed me off my fishing perch.

Early evening

I dried off, pulled on some long pants and drove back down to Deepwater Creek. I arrived just after 4.00 pm and rigged up with another small DUO Poco Poco surface popper. I cast out into the fresh water section. I jerked the popper slowly back towards me. There were a couple of swipes behind it, but I did not hook up.

I moved back to the saltwater section and re-rigged with a GULP 3 “ Minnow on a 1/16th ounce, size 2 hook jighead. Tarpon have quite small hard mouths so I hoped the smaller hook gauge might slide home more easily. This did the trick and after a number of hits and dropped fish I finally hooked a good one. They fight so hard and leap around all over the place – they are just great fun to catch. I landed three but hooked up to about ten as the sun dropped and the cicadas started to produce a deafening hum, the action got faster and hotter and then slowly died down.

By about 6.45 pm it was dark and quiet. I tried a few casts with a popper and then gave up.

 

Tarpon Salty water tarpon

1770 – Deepwater Creek – 4 November 2014

Tuesday

On Tuesday I had some work to do in the morning and the wind was blowing hard. By lunchtime, I was keen for a fish, so I decided to drive down to Deepwater Creek, which is just south of 1770 and see what I could catch.

At about 3.00 pm I set out to explore. I have fished a few sections of the creek. It has both freshwater and saltwater parts with a weir separating the two. When it rains heavily, the water runs over the weir and it would be possible for fish who can survive in both, to move up stream. Last year I caught my first tiny barramundi in this creek. I am sure that there are some bigger ones lurking in this system.

It’s important to protect yourself from the bugs. You want to be fishing at dawn or dusk and unfortunately this is the time when they are at their fiercest.  This is a fresh/ saltwater swamp, so after a bit of rain it is buzzing. I find minimising your exposed skin is really the best solution, so I wear long trousers and a long sleeve shirt and fishing gloves. I then use a good repellent on my neck and face.

I started on a section of the fresh side of the creek. Finding a spot to cast from is always a challenge. There are overhanging branches and vegetation everywhere. There are also fallen trees and stumps at regular intervals. You must be prepared to lose plenty of gear. I was fishing light. I was using my G.Loomis TJR fast action, light spin rod, Shimano Stella 2500 reel, 10lb braid with a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. There was no movement and the wind was ruffling the tree tops. I decided it was time to think out of the box – the DUO lure box. With so many snags I decided to give a small surface popper a try. I tied on the DUO Tetraworks Pocopoco in the Clear Rainbow colour. This is a very small popper that is great for catching bream over weed beds. It is well made with the usual great DUO paint job and excellent finish – but its real strength is its noisy blooping action.

I cast it out to mid-stream and let it sit for about ten seconds. I took up the slack and it loudly blooped towards me. After each jerk with the rod tip there was another bloop and splash and then I would pause. After three pauses, there was a swirl in the tea tree stained water behind the lure. On the next bloop a fish attacked and ran for bit but then spat the lure out. I could not see what it was.

I cast out to the same spot, there was another swirl and then a surface strike but the fish missed the lure. Popper fishing is always like this – you swing from delight to disappointment, all within a 10 second retrieve. I cast out again and again and I had another bite and run but no hook up. I decided to return later.

 

I moved down to the saltwater section and found a good looking stretch of bank with sunken timber and lots of mangrove roots. I swapped to a soft plastic lure – a GULP 3” Smelt Minnow and as the water was hardly moving, I dropped down to 1/12th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. As I cast along parallel with the bank, small bait fish hopped along in front of my lure. It was now about 4.30 pm and there were a few surface bust ups, in close to the mangrove roots. I lost a few jigheads and leaders to the submerged timber, but I kept re-rigging.  At about 5.00 pm something slammed my lure just before I was going to lift it clear of the water. The rod bent over and it tried to head straight back towards the mangrove roots. With 10lb leader I was not going to force the fish out once it buried itself – so I quickly tightened the drag and gambled that the G.Loomis would be a good enough shock absorber. This worked and I turned the fish back towards mid-stream. It pulled hard but after a minute or two it was tired and I carefully pulled it clear of the water. It was a Mangrove Jack and measured 38cm. I took a few pictures and released it.

After another 30 minutes I decided to turn my attentions back to the fresh water section of the creek. I wanted to see if I could catch what had been chasing my popper, earlier. I went back to the other spot and I tied the popper back on. It was now about 5.30 pm and the shadows where getting longer. I cast into the middle of the stream, where the fish had been earlier, but with no luck. I cast closer to some tall swamp grass on the far bank and saw a faint swirl behind the popper. I put the next cast back in the same spot and this time the fish took it in one great gulp. It was a chunky spangled perch – about 30 cm long. There is obviously plenty to eat in this system.

I don’t think the strikes earlier in the day had been from this species, they had been much more aggressive. Perhaps they were from some tarpon, which can be caught all through this system.  By about 6.30 pm it was too dark to carry on so I stopped for the day. Exploring new systems can be hit and miss but this afternoon was definitely a hit!

1770 – Getaway Beach and Wreck Rock – 3 November 2014

Monday

By a lucky twist of fate I found myself stuck in Gladstone for a few days – so I disappeared to 1770. Gavin and Kim at Loka Santi – http://www.lokasanti1770.com.au – had an apartment free at a good rate, so I decided to stay there, again.

The weather looked unpredictable and that was how it turned out. On Monday a strong south-easterly blow appeared from nowhere and brought some rain with it. I started just after dawn at Getaway Beach where I caught a few small stripey perch and dart, mainly on small soft plastics. After a few hours, I did not have much to show for my efforts, so I went off to find some breakfast.

High tide had been at about 5.30 am so by lunch time I could get to fish my favourite spot at Wreck Rock. I arrived at about 11.30 am and wandered out onto the rocks with my NS Blackhole light rock fishing rig. It was lunch time so I kept things light – 10lb fluorocarbon leader, 1/8th 1/0 jigheads and GULP 3” Minnow soft plastics.

The sky was grey and it started to rain. Fortunately the rain dampened down the wind. I caught a steady stream of dart and even a couple of whiting, but there were no bream or trevally around. The rain stopped and the wind picked up again. The water felt much warmer than a couple of weeks earlier which may explain why the tailor and bream had moved on. By about 1.00 pm I was soaked through and decided to call it quits for the day.

1770 Getaway Beach and Wreck Rock – 24 October 2014

Friday

With the wind and swell dropping and turning into a light north-easterly, Friday looked like the perfect fishing day. I was awake at 4.00 am and decided to fish at Getaway Beach. I walked down to the small bay in the pre-dawn light.

I started at the north end of the beach on the rocky promontory. The tide was coming in and would be high at about 8.30 am. I cast at a semi-submerged bommie. I started with a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour on a 1/8th 2/0 jighead. I was still hoping there might be a jewfish/mulloway lurking somewhere around here. The first taker was a small stripey perch – not much longer than the jerkshad. I cast out again and got another. I moved further round and caught another. After about 30 minutes I had caught and released about 10 fish – all too small for a meal. The tide was coming in and I had to get off the rock if I wanted to avoid getting stranded.

I walked back to the south side of the rocky headland. I was now fishing with a GULP 4“ Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. I cast it at a bommie and let it sink. N.B – The word ‘bommie’ is unique to Australia and is derived from a local aboriginal word – ‘bombora’ which can be loosely translated as coral reef outcrop. The sea was settling down but it was still not very clear and I could smell and see the algal bloom in the water. As I lifted my rod tip a fish attacked and hooked itself. It turned and tried to bury itself in the rocks. I pulled it out and landed it. It was a chunky stripey perch about 35cm long – I kept it. I believe these fall under the ‘all tropical sea perch’ category and have a minimum size of 25cm (but please correct me if I have misinterpreted the current Queensland rules).

I did not find another one but I did pull out small, bream, dart and trevally, after swapping down to smaller 3” GULP Minnows in various colours. I swapped to a small DUO hard bodied vibe lure and this caught also caught a few small dart. By about 9.00 am, as we passed the top of the tide, the sea was calm and the fish seemed to stop biting. I decided to go for breakfast and a sleep.

At about 2.00 pm I drove back down to Wreck Rock to fish the bottom of the tide. This was another good session. I caught plenty of dart and small bream and the catch rate picked up as the afternoon moved on and the tide started to run in. At about 3.30 pm, I upgraded to 15lb leader and swapped to a slightly heavier 1/6th ounce jighead, to counter the strong afternoon north-easterly wind, which had picked up. I was now fishing with a GULP 4” Minnow, in the Pearl Watermelon colour.

Just on 4.00 pm I felt a sudden hit and line started peeling. It felt like a chunky fish but in the swell it was hard to tell. It was fast and trying get down into the rocks. I felt more confident with the 15lb leader and I tightened the drag and put some pressure on. It fought hard but after a few minutes I pulled it up on a wave and grabbed it. It was another decent trevally, about 50cm long. They must cruise up and down these rocks. I have seen some much bigger shapes in the waves out front but they could be anything in this spot. By 4.30 pm the incoming tide pushed me off the rocks so I gave up for the day.

 

 

 

 

 

1770 – Flat Rock at Baffle Creek and Wreck Rock – 23 October 2014

Thursday

On Thursday the seas were still up and low tide would not be until about 2.30 pm. The wind would hopefully have dropped by then and I could try fishing the beaches and rocks again. In the morning I decided to drive back out to Flat Rock on Baffle Creek and see if I could have some more fun with the Tarpon.

It takes about an hour to drive south from 1770, down the four wheel drive sand track, past Flat Rock, Middle Rock and Wreck Rock beaches, across Deepwater Creek and on to Flat Rock boat ramp on Baffle Creek.

By the time I arrived, the sun was already up and the insects were humming in my ears. You need plenty of insect repellent in these parts! The wind had dropped away and the tide was coming in. It would be high at about 9.00 am.  There were a few surface strikes and the bait was jumping around. I worked through a few different soft plastics on the light rod. The usual minnows, jerkshads and shrimps did not work, so I swapped to a Watermelon coloured GULP Minnow grub. I slowed the retrieve and let it flutter around in the current. After a few casts, there was a solid bite and I hooked up. The fish headed for the rocks and immediately tried to get under them. I was still fishing with 14lb leader so I tightened the drag and pulled it out. It was an estuary cod – about 45cm long. I released it and after another hour with no luck, I went off to the Baffle Creek Township, to find some breakfast.

The wind had dropped off so I decided to make my way to Wreck Rock to fish the last few hours of the run out tide. It would not be possible to get out to the spots I like to fish there, until two to three hours before low tide, from about 10.30 am onwards. So I drove back up the sand track and stopped for a nap in a shady spot. I woke to some rustling and found a mother emu and three chicks walking past. This really is a very unspoilt spot!

I drove on to Wreck Rock and walked out on to the beach. The sun was out and there was no one else around. The wind was now a 10 to 15 knot north-easterly and the swell was dropping. I decided to stay with the light spinning rod and 10lb leader. It was the middle of the day and I thought the fish would be fairly picky.

I started fishing on the calmer side of the rocky peninsula that sticks out to the north of the little bay. I put on a 1/8th ounce, size 1 hook jighead with a 2” GULP Shrimp soft plastic, in the Banana Prawn colour. After a few casts, the first taker was a small stripey perch, this was followed by an equally small bream. Both these fish where sitting at the base of the rocks in a few feet of water. About 20 minutes later, I dropped a bigger bream, as I tried to land it.

It was pretty warm so I decided to risk getting wet and wandered a bit further out along the rocks. I wanted something chunkier to throw out into the breaking waves, in front of the rocks and I chose a GULP Jerkshad in the Waremelon Pearl colour. I also upped my jighead to a slightly bigger 1/6th ounce with a 1/0 hook. I cast this out in to the gaps between the rocks and let it sink for as long as I could before hopping it back towards me. I lost a couple of rigs to the rocks and gradually moved further out as the tide dropped. At about noon I was almost at the end of the rocky peninsula. I cast clear of the rocks and let the jerkshad sink. On the drop, it was slammed and line started peeling. The swell was still significant and this fish new how to use it. As soon as I applied some pressure, it took off. There were rocks everywhere and I had a 10lb fluorocarbon leader on the end of a very light, fast action trout spinning rod. Patience – Patience – Patience would be necessary. I got a little line back and tightened the drag, very slightly. I watched the swell and used the waves to steer the fish towards me. I took several tries but eventually I had it out of the water and at my feet. It was a trevally, about 50cm long.  I love to eat fresh trevally, so I killed and bled it and put it in a keeper pond, about 10 metres back from the shoreline.

A climbed back out along the rocky peninsula and put on another Jerkshad soft plastic. This time it was in the green and orange Lime Tiger colour. I cast around for another trevally but could not find any out the front. I started casting into the foamy water right at the end of the line of rocks. Small dart kept attacking the soft plastic just as it reached the rocks and on a few occasions they almost beached themselves trying to eat it. On the next cast there was a solid hit and then a clean bite off. I re-rigged with 14lb fluorocarbon leader and put the same soft plastic/ jighead combination on again.

I cast out wide again and let the jighead sink but then I added some urgency to the retrieve, a few quicker, more violent jerks. This did the trick and just before I got the soft plastic back to the rocks, a fish grabbed it, dropped it, and then grabbed it again. I felt the hook set in the jaw and then the fish went ballistic. I knew it was a Tailor before I could see it and I suspect this was what had bitten me off, before.

 

I pulled up a wriggling 40 cm tailor – I photographed it and released it. I shortened the mashed soft plastic then cast it out again. After a few jerks of the rod tip I had caught another slightly bigger one. Over the next 20 minutes I caught 4 more and dropped a few. The biggest was about 45cm. I am not sure how long they would stay in this area, but I suspect they are nearly always around until the water really warms up.

By 1.30 pm I was soaked and the fish seemed to slow a bit, as the wind and swell picked up again. I waded back towards the keeper pool, where I had left my trevally but I could not find it. Then I saw a big brahminy kite circling the shallows, about 50 metres away towards the beach. I watched as it swooped and plucked up the trevally – which it or another bird must have dropped halfway back to its nest. It struggled to get airborne again but eventually it got its full wingspan deployed and made it to the tree line. That was the end of my fish supper.

I decided to give up for the day and drove back up to 1770.

1770 – Baffle Creek – Flat Rock – 22 October 2014

Wednesday

After a windy and stormy night with a fair amount of rain, I woke to grey skies on Wednesday. Agnes Water and 1770 can be a tough place to fish. Half the problem is that everywhere just looks so fishy. The mangrove lined creeks, the rocky headlands and unspoiled beaches. It raises your expectations but as with fishing everywhere, you still need to put in the hard work. That means fishing at dawn and dusk – when the fish eat. It also means trying everything in the tackle box and trying lots of different locations.

Wednesday morning would be wet with rough seas but it was still worth a fish. I was up at 4-15 am and drove down to Flat Rock Beach in Deepwater National Park. I walked out on to the beach and watched the sun come up as I cast a few soft plastics around. The water was murky and it was just too windy, so I retreated and put plan B in to action.

Plan B was to drive further down the sandy track and head for Flat Rock boat ramp on Baffle Creek. It is a fairly wide stretch of Baffle Creek with a few scattered rock bars and mangrove lined edges. The main attraction is a wide rock bar that juts out into the channel and is submerged on high tide. Sadly, despite its fairly remote location, this spot seems to get fished quite a lot and there is a fair amount of boat traffic coming and going from the nearby ramp, especially at weekends and later in the day. When its windy out on the ocean this is the only option.

I arrived at about 11.00 am and only had to share the space with one other land based fisherman – a friendly Kiwi called Chris – who was camping nearby at Wreck Rock. He had had a fair bit of success using flesh baits and pilchards, he had landed a nice mangrove jack, a day previously.  There was sickly sweet smell and I could see it was coming from the nasty green algal bloom covering the mud and the sand, as the tide receded.

 

I started with my light spinning rig and 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I was fishing with a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and a GULP 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour. I cast along parallel with the mangroves. The tide was running out. I soon picked up a dusky flathead – 50 cm long. A few casts later the lure was slammed by a fairly significant fish. I hooked up instantly and it took off. On the first leap I could not see what it was. On the second, its black back gave it away as a pretty big (60cm +) Tarpon. It leapt three or four times and kept making blistering runs. With 10lb leader I could not muscle it in so I let it have its head. Unfortunately, as soon as I tried to tighten the drag and put some pressure on, it snapped the leader.

 

I fished for a little longer with the GULP Shrimp, then swapped to a Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I had now re-rigged with 15lb leader. After a few casts I had a solid bite and about 3 casts later, another smaller Tarpon hit hard. I set the hook and let it take line and leap around for a few minutes. When it had worn itself out I reeled it in, unhooked it and released it. These are tough fighting fish with small hard mouths, so they can be hard to hook.

I fished on through the falling tide but the wind got stronger and stronger and even made fishing this sheltered spot hard. I had a few bites from smaller fish but at about noon. I gave up for the day.