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.