Thursday, 7 May 2009
Thursday, May 07, 2009 Fishing Locations
The ‘weed beds’ form an extensive area inside Cape Cleveland. The bottom is mostly muddy, but covered with the dugong’s prime food, weed. At times of the year this area can be heavily populated with both turtles and dugong, so careful boating is required. Although the area is quite extensive, I have found the best areas tend to be off long beach, and around the mouths of the various small creeks. There are also many small ‘shoal’ areas that fish well, but these are hard to find. The weed beds are located in a marine park ‘yellow’ zone, so only one line per fisherman is allowed. The quality of the water can play a big part in a successful day’s mackerel fishing. When the water is a little turbid, try heading slightly wider and into deeper water.
To reach the weed beds off long beach, head south once clear of the harbor and point the boat slightly to starboard of the cape. If traveling in the dark, you will see the cape Cleveland lighthouse in the distance. Again, head to starboard of the lighthouse until the shore becomes clear. Long beach is, obviously, the long stretch of beach running inside the cape. I fish off the southern end of this beach in about 3-4m of water. There really isn’t a special 'mark' to fish on the weed beds, anywhere will do. For this reason it isn’t necessary to anchor up close to other boats, and definitely stay well clear of burly trails. It’s not unusual for a burly trail to extend several hundred meters from the back of a boat. I’m always surprised by boats anchoring up within casting distance, when the weed beds occupy an area of several km’s square! However, if unsure, anchor somewhere in the vicinity of the following GPS location. S19°13.215' E146°59.474'
On calm mornings the weed beds are accessible in any sized boat, particularly from one of the creek mouths. The distance across the bay is about 8nm. Normally the run can be made in 20mins or so. However, 10-15knots can chop the water up pretty quickly, and make for a very uncomfortable trip if heading directly into the wind. The sea here is rarely to the point of being dangerous for boats above 4.5m, but definitely uncomfortable. And on a glass-out, there’s no better place to be!
The weed beds are best fished during winter, when this area becomes a prime school mackerel spot. Best results occur when water temperatures fall below 22°C. Usually this is from May to about October. During the periods of warmer water temperature, large catfish are present in big numbers. Fish up to 10kg can have you thinking something substantial is on the line. Other quality fish I have encountered include Golden Trevalley, Queenfish, Cobia and Salmon. Small Cobia between 70-80cm are actually quite common at times. I have seen schools of Cobia come through, with every bait in the water being smashed! But mackerel are definitely the reason to go. Small Spanish mackerel, and the occasional spotted are caught, but schoolies are the frequent catch. When the schoolies are on, this is the one place in Townsville where you can actually reach your bag limit (even the old one!).
There is nowhere special to anchor. Just find a clean patch of water in around 3-4m, and drop anchor. It is possible to drift and locate fish, but a burly trail usually proves the better option. The burly trail should be light but consistent. Sometimes the fish will be there almost straight away, other times it can take up to 30mins for the trail to begin working. In either case, don’t stop the trail once fish arrive, keep them keen and in the area. Usually the first sign the trail is working will be small schools of sucker fish hanging around the back of the boat. To avoid catching these, throw the baits well out the back of the boat. Sometimes the fish will come and go in waves. For a period of 10mins baits will be smashed one after the other, and suddenly it all goes quiet. Again, keep the trail running, 20mins or so later they will be back!
Most other fish tend to be a by catch of chasing mackerel. However, one fish worth targeting specifically is the wolf herring. These can be located morning and evening by trolling small metal slices or flies in shallower water closer to the cape and off the beach. While not much good for eating, Wolf herring are prime troll baits for big Spanish Mackerel.
Casting lures and flies can be very successful. But without a burly trail, it’s really blind casting. Fishing in a boat beside a fellow bait downer is the best way to go. Otherwise, when fish are hard to find, trolling medium sized diving lures such as the Flatz Rat can help in locating schools. And in a yellow zone you ARE allowed to troll more than one lure per person.