Bowen – 19 August 2011

Friday

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Weather and work can be the keen anglers’ two worst enemies. Work slowed me down a bit last week but also gave me the opportunity to get out for a quick fish at Bowen, on the Whitsunday coast. I was lucky enough to be spending the night there, on my way home from work. I grabbed a cheap rod and real combo, a couple of packets of jigheads and plastics on Thursday night and drove out to fish the rocks, around Horseshoe Bay, just as the sun was setting.

I was fishing a reel pre-loaded with 12lb monofilament line and tied on a 1/6th 1/0 jighead. I loaded it with a GULP 4” Jigging Grub. There is a series of bays along this section of coast, all divided by rocky out crops. They are covered in smooth boulders and are very easy to access. The locals tell me there are all sorts of reef species hiding down at the base of the rocks. They pull out plenty of Coral Trout and cod. The Mackerel and Trevally are also cruising up and down, at this time of year.

My expectations were high but I doubt I could have landed any significant fish on the light rig I had. I walked along the boulders, casting out about 3-5 metres and trying to pause the plastic just at the base of the rocks. After a few casts and a few snags, I caught a small Stripy Perch and then another. As usual with fishing, it took a while to figure out where the fish would be and unfortunately darkness beat me to it.

The next morning I went back to another rocky outcrop, a bit further south, to fish through the sunrise. I used the same technique and tried a few different coloured, paddle tailed GULP soft plastics. The first fish was a Stripy Perch again, next was some kind of tiny spotted Cod and then a more familiar Pike. They were all tiny. Then something kept biting and releasing the plastic. As the sun came up I could see it was a group of squid floating over the rocky bottom. I tried but I could not hook one.

I had a plane to catch so, after an hour I gave up. The sunrise over Gloucester Island was spectacular, even if the fishing was not. As is often the case, this quick session has just confirmed that I need to get back up here for a real fishing trip!

Wreck Rock – Deep Water National Park 1770 – 13 May 2011

Friday

Having seen the Tuna working just offshore, all afternoon the day before, at both Wreck Rock and Flat Rock, I decided to spend dawn on Friday casting slugs from the southern tip of Wreck Rock. The tides where getting bigger in the run up to the full moon. Low tide would be at 11.10 am, so there would be plenty of water close into the rocks, at dawn.

The south end of Wreck Rock at dawn

The southern tip of the Wreck Rock bay has a couple of rocky outcrops and submerged bommies. At low tide there is only about a metre of water in front of them, but at high tide, this can increase to almost 4 metres. South of these rocks is a long, almost completely uninterrupted beach ( Rules Beach), that runs all the way down to the mouth of Baffle Creek. At the moment, the big seas and storms through the summer months have created a very steep, sloping beach with a few nice wholes and gutters. This means there is good deep water on high tide, all along this section.

Looking south from Wreck Rock - towards the mouth of Baffle Creek

It was another bitterly cold morning, the sky was crystal clear, but there was a light south-westerly wind blowing. As the sun came up I was casting a 90g slug from the rocks. I then tried a River to Sea – Dumbbell Popper and various heavy blades and big hard bodies. I could not interest the fish. I could see the Tuna, in small groups, smashing into the bait fish and the birds diving in to get a free breakfast, but they stayed at least 800m away the whole time.

Wreck Rock bay - just after dawn


I switched from the Daiwa 9’ 6” Demon Blood rod, which I use for slugs and poppers, to the light spin rod and rigged a soft plastic on a ¼ oz 1 jighead. I chose the GULP 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour. After about 30 minutes I had caught two tiny Dart and a Long Tom. At about 8.30am I headed back into my camp to thaw out with a hot cup of tea and some breakfast.

Mackerel, Trevally, Tailor and a few reef species all cruise around these rocks at the southern end of Wreck Rock bay


I considered my options and spoke to another keen fisherman who was camped nearby. He too had seen the Tuna and was planning to spend the day casting slugs at them. As low tide approached I decided to head out the rocks on the southern tip of Wreck Rock bay. The Tuna were there but always just out of reach. They would swing in tantalizingly close and I would cast slugs at them then they were gone again. As the tide dropped I moved as far as I could out onto the exposed rocks to the south. I cast out at about 45 degrees to the shoreline and as my slug landed a huge circle of bait scattered around it. Then ‘zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ….fftt’ and the fish was gone. I wound the line back in and it looked like a clean bite through the 40lb leader. I presumed it was a Mackerel or some other toothy species. I rigged a wire trace and carried on, but after twenty more casts I was still without a decent fish.

The bait that shelters around this bommy at Wreck Rock, attracts all sorts of predators

I switched from the slug rod to the light spin rod again and rigged a GULP Jerkshad in the Lime Tiger colour. I wanted to cast a bit of distance, but I also wanted to make sure the lure wafted around in the strike zone for as long as possible. I settled on a ¼ oz 2/0 jighead and downgraded to 16lb fluorocarbon leader. First cast was hit on the drop but then the fish dropped it. Third cast and I had a solid hook up. The fish took line in a couple of fast blistering runs then swam round in front of the rocks into a good position. On the next surge I tightened the drag and pulled it up to my feet (getting soaked in the process). Then I grabbed the leader and pulled the fish clear. It was a Giant Trevally around 50cm – no monster, but a decent fish. Cold and wet, I decided I had enough – it was just after noon.

Finally a decent fish - 50cm GT at Wreck Rock

As always when fishing an area that you have not been to for a while, you need to spend a few sessions figuring out what works and where the fish are. It was my fourth day and I finally felt I understood when and where to concentrate. I headed back to camp for some fish cleaning.