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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

1770 – Getaway Beach – 21 October 2014

Tuesday

On Tuesday, I was up early to fish the rocks at Getaway Beach. This can be reached from Springs Road along a walking track, or by walking north around the headland from the new road that was constructed for the desalination plant inlet.

I have caught and dropped a few jewfish/mulloway here in the past. There are lots of spots that look promising, in fact it is pretty much perfect with rocky overhangs and sea caves all around the headlands. But I am much less confident in my ability to find them here than I am down south, in Southern Queensland or Northern New South Wales. They are very much creatures of habit but the more I think about it and the more I fish for them, I realise that there must be ready supply of bait for them to hang around. The moon and tides are also important. The run up to the full and new moons both seem to make them more active but, like most fish, it is a constant food supply that they are most interested in. I agree that they also prefer the water to be stirred up and foamy but not necessarily dirty.

The new moon was only a few days away.  The tide was running in. I started fishing about 5.30 am, a little after sunrise (late for work again!). I started with my lighter rock and beach fishing combo, based on the N.S Black Hole Cabin II – S-862 L Spin Rod. It is 2.59m long (8’6”) and rated 8-14 lb. I match this rod with a Shimano Sustain 3000 reel. This is rigged with 15lb braid and I usually fish it with a 12lb to 16lb fluorocarbon leader. Today I had some 14lb. When I am looking for a jewfish I start with the lightest jighead that will sink in the swell. That varies between a 3/8th ounce, down to a 1/8th ounce. A ¼ ounce was perfect for the conditions – a light south-easterly swell. I started with some big GULP Crazylegs Jerkshads and then regular Jerkshads, then 4” Minnows and finally 3 “ Minnows. Nothing produced a jewfish.

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I caught plenty of stripey perch and lost tails to small dart/ whiting. At one point, I hooked the resident turtle – who set off for New Zealand, before unhooking himself. I moved around the rocks and cast into every crevasse and at every bommy – but nothing produced what I was looking for.

The wind started to build and by 9.00 am it was a 25 knot south-easterly so I gave up. No fish pictures because you all know what a dart and stripey perch look like by now.

1770 Round Hill Creek – 20 October 2014

Monday – Dusk

On Monday afternoon, the south easterly wind was blowing hard and the beaches south of 1770 were impossible to fish. I decided to fish on the northern side of the 1770 headland, in Round Hill Creek. I drove to the car park by Captain Cooks Monument and followed the path down to the creek.

1770 is one of the few places you can actually see great sunrises and sunsets. I started fishing with small soft plastics at about 4.00 pm. I moved along the shoreline towards the mouth of the creek. At one point a small school of what looked like trevally came by, busting up into some bait on the surface. As is so often the case, they remained just out of casting range.

The shoreline is rocky, interspersed with patches of sandy bottom. As with everywhere in this town it looks very fishy! I swapped to a slightly bigger 4” GULP Minnow in the Pearl Watermelon colour. As I pulled this carefully over the top of the submerged rocks a small cod shot out and grabbed it. It did its best to bury itself in the rocks but I just let the pressure off and waited for it to swim out. It was about 30 cm long – so I sent it on its way.

 

I swapped to a bigger soft plastic a GULP Crazylegs Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I was still fishing with my light rig – 10lb fluorocarbon leader and a 1/8th, 1/0 jighead. After a few casts, I felt a solid bite at the foot of the rocks and was sure I had a fish on for a few seconds. But it must have dropped the soft plastic. I carried on along the shore and turned back as the sun began to drop towards the horizon. I stopped where I had felt the bite previously and put in another cast. I slowed it all down and let the plastic sit on the bottom for a good 10 seconds. I then hopped it back towards the shore. On the third attempt the fish hit the plastic hard.  It hooked itself and started thrashing around in the fairly shallow water. I let it make a few runs then tightened the drag and pulled it up on to the pebbly beach. It was another flathead – but a dusky this time. It was a little bigger the mornings version at about 55 cm. By the time I had photographed and released it, I had a violent red sunset to watch.

Nothing spectacular but a decent fish and sunrise at the beginning of the day and a decent fish and sunset at the end of the day – perfect!

1770 Deepwater National Park – Flat Rock – 20 October 2014

Monday

I had managed to get a few days off near Gladstone. The weather looked a bit windy but you have to take the cards you are dealt. I pointed the car in the direction of 1770 and set off. This time I decided to stay at Loka Santi Beachside Apartments – www.lokasanti1770.com.au . They are about mid-way between Agnes Waters and 1770, tucked in the sand dunes, 100 metres or so behind the beach. They have three bedroom / two bathroom units with kitchens and laundries but can offer these for singles and couples, at very reasonable rates, by locking off the extra rooms. All of the units have bbq’s, big balconies and outdoor spaces. There is a pool and the beach is only a stone’s throw away. Gavin and Kim run the place and will give you a very warm welcome. Gavin is a keen fisherman and has a side console Polycraft boat, on a trailer, that you can rent to explore the local creeks, if you have a boat license.

I arrived late on Sunday afternoon, after a long drive and decided to go to bed early and make the most of the fishing in the morning.  The wind was forecast to pick up from the south east on Monday afternoon and then blow fairly hard for a few days. In common with so many areas, I have lots of spots around Agnes Waters/ 1770 that are better to fish on a low or falling tide. Dawn on Monday morning would be just after 5.00 am and high tide would be at about 6.30 am on the beaches/ rocks to the south. I decided to fish at Flat Rock, in Deepwater National Park – about 10 kms to the south of Agnes Waters.

Flat Rock, Middle Rock and Wreck Rock are reached by passing along a 4 wheel drive only sand track that turns off the road just south of Agnes Water. The track can be very variable. I used to do it in my Suzuki Grand Vitara and rarely got stuck – but it was challenging.  With a little extra clearance, the FJ Cruiser has no trouble. At the moment the track is in great shape and the tough, steep sandy slope, which used to cause problems, has been filled in with some road base and firmed up.

 

 

It took about 25 minutes to drive from Loka Santi to Flat Rock beach. Flat Rock is a spectacular spot and, unsurprisingly at 5.00 am on a Monday morning – I had it to myself. The beach is named for the long Flat Rock that runs parallel with the shore for almost its entire length. The rock creates a huge gutter at high tide and great fishing platform at low tide. My preference is to stand on the rock on a run out tide and fish into the drains that run through the rock as the tide drains.

This morning I was using my light spinning rig – 8lb braid and 10lb fluorocarbon leader, 1/8th 1 or 2, sized hook jigheads. I was not expecting anything too big as I would be mainly fishing the gutter on the inside of the rock. Small soft plastics – GULP Minnows, Minnow and Jigging Grubs and Shrimps are the best choices along here. I started with a 3 inch GULP Minnow in the smelt colour. The water was clear but foamy and the Flat Rock was completely submerged. Ideally you would like to cast a very light jighead here, perhaps 1/12th of an ounce or 1/16th, but fishing in surf/beach conditions nearly always makes the lightest castable size a 1/8th ounce. This is what I selected.

I walked north along the beach casting towards the inner edge of the Flat Rock. Straight away my plastic was getting hit at the foot of the beach, where the wave breaks. I assumed this was Whiting or Dart. This was confirmed as I pulled out a few tiny Dart.

I moved down to an area about 500 metres to the south of the beach entrance, where there is a break in the rock. At this point the water was rushing in through the break, as the tide filled the inside gutter.

I cast right into the centre of the gap, level with the rocks on either side and let the plastic sink. When I lifted the rod I felt a light tug and then a solid bite. I set the hook and the fish took some line. Fishing in the surf takes some getting used to. The pull of the waves makes it difficult to gauge what you are dealing with. It is essential to try to maintain the tension, as a large wave can lift the fish and give it some slack, then the hook falls out and the fish is gone. You also need to be careful as you pull the fish up the beach. Basically, patience is the key.

I tried to be patient but it has never been my strong point. I kept winding and after a few minutes I had a nice sandy coloured flag tail flathead at my feet. It was a nice fat fish about 50cm long. I took a few pictures and released it.

I carried on fishing this area and swapped to a slightly bigger 4” GULP Minnow in the Green Camo colour. I kept getting hits from fish in the mouth of the drain but could not hook up. I slowed everything down and let the plastic waft around a bit on the bottom. This strategy worked and I felt a good bite and struck. I was surprised to see a fat whiting; about 30 cm long had swallowed the 4” Minnow. I released it and was hopeful of more.

I fished for another hour or so but the wind was building from the south east and this eventually made the fishing too difficult. I caught several more dart, and a couple of really tiny flathead. I think I may have also dropped a couple of larger flathead, but it was difficult to tell. At about 9.00 am, I surrendered the beach to the wind and went for breakfast.

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.