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.
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.
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.