Yesterday I went for a run with Ward in his boat to fish the flats on Maggie Island. This was a new adventure for me, and I was keen to see how it was done. Ward is a purist fly fisher, and chasing Golden Trevalley on the flats is a bit of a favourite of his.
We headed off about 6am and immediately found that strong Northerly still blowing out the front of the harbor. So it was a bit of rough going getting to the island, but once in the protection of the bay it was almost glassed out. Ward eased the boat up onto the flats where we were floating in just inches of water. Almost immediately we began spotting the Goldens 'tailing' as they fed.
While Ward is pretty switched on with his fly fishing, I had no idea what to chuck at these fish! Considering the shallow depth I figured a good old DOA prawn might be as good as anything. And sure enough the very first fish I cast at turned on the lure and followed it in. The fish spooked as it neared the boat, but I was now confident enough I could get their attention.
We bottomed the boat on the shallows and Ward jumped out to track down some fish that where out of range. But I stated in the boat as I didn't have decent shoes and long pants. But it didn't take long and some fish began tailing within range. But each cast saw the lure land out of the sight of the fish.
As the tide came in a little the boat floated again and I was able to hunt down a few fish with the electric. Eventually I managed to get close to a fish and land the lure in the right spot. Smack, he hit the lure and took off. Only a small fish, he ran hard and performed well in the very shallow water. On the 8lb Stella 1000fe it was spectacularly fun. After a good tussle I grabe the fish by the tail and lifted him in. My first flats fish! There were a lot of tails sticking out of the water that morning that were considerable larger, I would love to have tangled with one of them on the light gear! But buy the time we unhooked this fish the tide had risen too far and the fish had moved off.
Definitely something I would like to do again. Thanks Ward!
The forecast for Monday/Tuesday was for 5-10knot winds and smooth seas. So I thought Monday was going to be the day that we finally got the new boat beyond Maggie Island. But yet again, it just wan't going to happen. A solid 10-15knots blowing from the North first thing! But it was beautiful between the Island and Middle Reef, so thats where we hung out.
We fished a few different marks around the area for a couple of small Trevalley and undersize Nannygai. But we found most success fishing the reef fringe off Cockle Bay. The fish were only small reefies, but the kids had a lot of fun landing a multitude of species including Cod, Trout, Sweetlip and Stripies. The kids fished mainly Thready Busters and I was giving a new hard bodied vibe from Quickcatch Lures a go.
A quick drop into Picknick Bay on the way home and kids had a dip in the stinger nets while I relaxed on the boat. Its nice to be able to get out and have a fish and good morning on the water close to the island, even when the wind isn't whats predicted!
Here are a couple of pics from the local Townsville ramps on the 4m king tide today. Wasn't as big as I was expecting. Maybe the creeks were worse, but the town ramps were still usable on the top of the tide. Probably not so on the early low though?
Over the next few days Townsville will experience some very extreme King Tides. There are a few dangers associated with this tidal variance that some people may not be aware of. I would like the highlight a couple of things for those less experienced in the area. The following are the tide times and heights for the next few days. Taken from BOM.
The amount of run created in creek systems from a near 4m change of tide is very large. Systems like the Bohle, Haughton and Morriseys will run extremely hard and dirty during this time. Fishing any of the creeks will be difficult. Be prepared for the run!
Many of the ramps in the area will be useless at the times of extreme tide change. This is especially important during the early morning tide changes which are the larger. The low tides of 0.2m will render most ramps useless as the end of the ramp will be out of the water. The bottom of the ramps may also be very slippery, muddy and covered with algae as it is rarely exposed to the air. Also, on the 4m high tide, the water will come over the top of some of the ramps. Again, launching and retrieving at these times may be difficult and dangerous.
Be aware that the parking areas around many of the creek ramps may become inundated with water during the 4m morning high. This is a photograph of the Haughton river taken a few years ago on a 4m tide. The water just lapped the trailer tires of cars parked on the highest part of the car park. The photo was not taken at the peak of the tide!
The roads in and out of some ramps will also go under water during the high tide. I believe the causeways on the road to Barattas will go under, the track into Doughboy goes under water at 3m and the road to the Haughton may also go under.
The extreme low tide will also create navigation hazards in many of the creeks. For example, the rockbar near the ramp at the Haughton may become a 'prop' hazard and the sandbar near the mouth of Burrumbush may become impassable. It will also be impossible to get back into Doughboy ramp at that time. Obviously most of the creek mouths will also be impassable. If you don't know the creek you are in very well, move around slowly and with caution around the low tide.
I don't think the afternoon tides will present as much of a problem. But please keep this information in mind and play it safe over the weekend. Even the main Coast Guard ramp will have its issues on the extreme low. Please send me an email if you have some important information on some of the other roads/ramp that you feel should be added or changed.
I have spent the last two afternoons flicking small soft plastics around the creeks for very little success. The afternoon outgoing tide was what I would consider ideal for the Haughton/Morriseys, but the fish had different ideas.
Wednesday was the family trip. Down to Morriseys to give the boys a go flicking around the sticks. We initially headed up 'Little Salty' to try and get out of the winds. The water was was a little dirty, but not too bad. I rigged Lachlan up with a modified DOA. I came across this YouTube clip a couple of weeks ago and thought it was ideal for the kids. Weedless is a must when allowing kids to throw lures among the timber! For Sebastian I rigged up a Squidgie fish texas style. But despite the weedless nature of the riggs I still ended up spending more time undoing tangles and snags than actually fishing!
We headed off toward the mouth in search of cleaner looking water somewhere out of the wind. I found a really good looking bank. Water was green and clear on a deep outside bank with lots of timber. I had been past this bank a few times and never stopped to look. But I couldn't attract so much as a bump.
Off to the mouth, one last chance at a fish. We worked the edges of the beach and mud banks in search of a flathead. At lease the casts don't need to be super accurate here! But the most fun the kids had was throwing their plastics up onto the mud bank and watching massive mud skippers chase after the lures. I must admit, it was pretty damn funny.
In the end we just pulled the boat up on the beach and wend for a walk. Tania and kids collected some shells and we headed off to the servo for dinner.
Thursday afternoon I took Andrew back down to the Haughton for another look for some Jack's. When we arrived I was pleasantly surprised to see the water around the Cromarty creek ramp very clean and clear. With such good looking water we thought we might head up Cromarty, rather than going to the mouth.
The first fish of the day fell to my DOA fished amongst the tight timber. The hit took me completely by surprise as I had my hand off the reel adjusting the iPilot at the time. But a quick set of the rod and he was hooked. A solid Pikey Bream soon came into sight. A pretty weak fight from a decent fish on light line! But it was one on the board for the day.
A little further along and Andrew soon nailed his first of the day, a small Jack. It took his Gulp Shrimp from a section of timber I had already worked over with my DOA. Clearly my offering wasn't good enough! Only a little fella, but at least it was the target species. A quick pic and he was back in the water.
Next fish again fell to my DOA. A nice little Barra that come from a set of snags that 'had to have a fish'. It hit the lure and instantly launched from the water shaking its head. Both Andrew I and were thinking 55ish cm rat. But the next time it came into sight it was clearly a bigger fish! The Barra was lead to the boat and released quickly. In the end, we think more like low 60's.
The rest of the way up Cromatary was very quiet. So we decided to make our way toward the mouth. Part way back I picked up a section of good looking bottom on the Humminbird 998 SI. So we pulled up and put down a couple of Thready Busters. It didn't take long and Andrew was nailed by a big Barra. She launched straight out of the water shaking her head, and throwing the lure right back at Andrew. We are thinking it was well into the 80's, but a big guess from the little was saw. Again, it was no real loss being the closed season, and neither of us were upset by the loss.
On to the mouth where it was really hard to get out of the wind. We worked several banks for nothing more than a Cod or two. On the way home we decided to work the rockbar near the ramp on dusk. Hoping for a Fingermark, all we could do was watch a couple of big Barramundi work some bait on the drains. We pulled out before it got dark and headed for home.
Might have to have a break from the creeks for a while, and wait for the season to open. Just wish we could get some decent weather and get out on the blue water properly.