1770 – Flat Rock – Slatey Bream, Dart & Stripey Perch – 6 April 2015

Monday

I managed to persuade the family that my beloved 1770 would be a good place to spend some of the Easter school holidays. Fishing was strictly rationed, but I did get a few sessions in.

We drove up from Brisbane and passed through some monster storms on Sunday. We visited Cooks Monument and walked out to the tip of the headland on arrival. You could see there had been plenty of rain. The dirty water was clearly visible, running out into the sea from the creek.

Dirty Water at the bottom of the tide 1770

On Monday morning the skies had cleared and the wind had dropped so we drove down to deserted Flat Rock beach in Deepwater National Park. Despite the recent heavy rain and lots of Easter holiday visitors the sandy four wheel drive track down through the park was in good order.

I like to fish this spot on a falling tide and anything can happen. Locals have told me they have caught saltwater barramundi, mackerel, tuna and jewfish here. I have caught the bread and butter species – stripey perch, estuary cod, dart, tailor, bream, whiting, flathead, all along the flat rock that runs parallel with the shore. I have also been bitten off by plenty of powerful predators, but I have never landed any trophy fish here.

I find the best time to start fishing is about an hour after high tide, through to about an hour before low tide. I wade out to the Flat Rock and walk along it fishing over the edge into the surf which breaks on its front edge. There are a couple of places where the rock breaks and the water runs out. These are great spots, the fish accumulate to feed on what is being washed out from the beach gutter.

The tide reveals Flat Rock

I was fishing with my lighter rock fishing rod and reel setup – the NS Blackhole Cabin 2 S862L, rated 8-14lb, 2.59 m long matched with a Shimano Sustain – 4000 reel. I use 12 lb braid and a 12 lb fluorocarbon leader.

I started by choosing my current favourite fish finding soft plastic lure – the GULP 3” Minnow in the lime tiger colour. I rigged it on a 1/8th 1/0 jighead and cast out. Within a few minutes I caught a small dart and then a small moses perch. I had started fishing at the side of one of the breaks in the rock and the water was gushing through the gap. I kept casting the soft plastic just on to the edge of the Flat Rock and let the water push it out through the gap.

After about half an hour a fish grabbed the soft plastic and shot under the rock. I had the drag fairly loose and by the time I tightened it, the fish had tucked himself right in. I tried to put a bit of pressure on it but the light leader quickly snapped.

I tied on another Lime Tiger Minnow but it did not tempt another fish. After another 20 minutes, I swapped to a GULP Mantis Shrimp in the Peppered Prawn colour and a slightly heavier, 1/6th ounce, size 1 hook, jighead. It was now just before 1.00 pm and the resident sea eagle who had been watching me form the tree line, was getting restless. I cast out the Mantis Shrimp and let it sink and be carried off by the fast running tide. I paused for about 15 seconds, to make absolutely sure it was on the bottom, then slowly lifted the rod tip and started hopping the soft plastic back towards me. On about the 3rd hop, a fish snaffled it and turned to run out to sea. It was not very fast but it was powerful. It took plenty of line but eventually I slowed it down and it just sat in the current, about a metre from the rocks. I used the light swell to heave it over the rocks and on to the beach. It was a slatey bream (painted sweetlip) with magnificent red flashes behind its lips and around its gills. It was about 40 cm long. As long as they are quickly bled and carefully filleted, these fish taste great. They have flaky white fillets and are great fried in a little olive oil. This one was coming home for supper.

It was now lunch time and the fainthearted tourists (my family) had had enough of watching me fishing, so we packed up.

1770 – Wreck Rock and Deepwater Creek – 8 November 2011

Saturday

It was my last day in 1770 for a while. I decided to fish the afternoon low tide at Wreck Rock. It was full moon so the water would get quite shallow around the rocks. There was a fairly light north easterly wind and not much swell.

I arrived at about 3.00 pm and rigged up with a 16lb fluorocarbon leader and 3 “ GULP Minnow on a 1/6th ounce, 1/0 hook jighead. This produced a small dart on the first cast and almost a fish a cast thereafter, for the next 30 minutes. I gradually moved along the rocks and it was usually the first cast, in a new location that produced the bigger dart. I soon had a few worth keeping.

By about 3.30 pm I had almost arrived at the end of the rocks. I had now swapped to a Zman 4” Jerkshad in the Shiner colour. A cast it out, about 5 metres directly in front of the rocks and the lure fluttered towards the bottom. I set the hook on another dart. Dart fight hard and love to turn sideways like trevally, but this one was positively hyperactive. I pulled it clear of the water and then released it. The next cast produced another dart, a little smaller but equally frantic. Then I saw why the fish were so spooked. I long, slow moving grey shape swam along the base of the rocks. It looked about 1.5 metres long and had clear black markings on its fin – so I presume it was a black tipped reef shark. This probably explains numerous bite offs I have had around these rocks.

The dart kept coming but as the tide turned in I caught a few small trevally – including  a strange looking bumpnose trevally. As the tide started to run in at about 5.00 pm,  I decided to swap locations.

I drove down to Deepwater Creek to fish through dusk. I thought the big tide and full moon might create some good conditions. I arrived about 5.30 pm and fished through the dusk with poppers and small soft plastics on a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I tried both the freshwater and saltwater sections. I was surprised to get a catfish from the salt water side. It grabbed a GULP Swimmow soft plastic in the Peppered Prawn colour, presented on a 1/16th, size 1 jighead. Meanwhile as the sun dropped below the horizon something swiped at the popper on the freshwater side. On the saltwater side, in the pitch dark, I could hear plenty of surface slurps and bust ups. The moon was not up yet and as I dragged the popper slowly across the surface, it was getting bumped and nudged all the way through the retrieve. Finally I hooked something and it pulled quite hard. I turned the headlamp on to reveal a small mullet. There was a big school of them cruising round.

I gave up for the night and marked this spot down for a future visit. Once again, I would like to recommend Gavin and Kim of 1770 Beach Accommodation. I stayed at Loka Santi which are very smart apartments, but they have accommodation to rent at every budget level and can offer some really great rates – visit their website for more information  www.1770beachaccommodation.com.au

 

 

 

 

 

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.