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Local Boat Ramps

Information on the quality and location of local Boat Ramp facilities. Includes photographs, maps and some video content.

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Promoting family fishing.

Fish for the future promotes catch and release fishing.

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Regular fishing reports from our fishing trips.

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Fly Fishing

Chasing Golden Trevalley on the Magnetic Island flats.


Enjoying one of the many beautiful beaches of Magnetic Island.

Saturday 30 May 2009

Townsville Boat Ramps - Rollingstone Creek

I was told the other day that Rollingstone Creek now has a pontoon at its boat ramp, and that I should be able to get my boat out of the mouth on a 1.5m tide and better. So today I went for a drive to have a look and take some photographs. No I have NEVER used this ramp before, nor have I ever been out of the mouth. So my comments here are purely from an observational point. All photographs were taken at the bottom of a lowish tide. Probably about 1m or so.

The ramp is easy to find, drive about 40min (50km) North of Townsville toward Rollingstone. Then take a right turn into Balgal Beach. Signs to the ramp point the direction.
The ramp is single lane, but excellent quality. It widens out toward the bottom. I could see the end of the ramp in the clear water of low tide, and have tried to show this in the photo's. But most people would not be attempting to use the ramp at this point anyway. There simply isn't enough water to get out the front. But for those who would be launching to head up the creek, it was still usable for small boats.

The ramp does indeed now have a pontoon. And a good one at that. Way better than the one at the Coast Guard in town. As the sign shows, this was a joint venture between several stakeholder groups. The photos do not do the pontoon justice, the tide was simply too low. But I could easily imagine how nice it would be when floating properly.

The main advantage of using this ramp is easy access to the Palm Island group. And it may provide ok access to Rattlesnake as well. Distance to Palm Island is about 20nm, Rattlesnake approximately 13nm and Acheron about 12nm.

View Larger Map

Thursday 28 May 2009

Townsville Boat Ramps - Facts and Figures

In my research into the Townsville Boat Ramp situation I have managed to put together some very interesting facts and figures on our appalling situation. These number come from various government documents, and clearly highlight just how 'shafted' Townsville has been.

First of all, consider this fact. Townsville has 12 lanes of all tide, all weather, ocean access ramps. This consists of the 2 x 4 lanes at the coat guard ramp, and 4 lanes at Barnacle St (National Park) ramp. Yeah, that's right, National Park ramp is apparently 4 lanes wide. I intend to measure it on the weekend and compare it to the 4 lanes at the coast guard! Not to mention the fact that only one side is any good. Ross River and Ross Creek are the only waterways in Townsville considered to have all tide access to the ocean. The Coast Guard ramp has a grand total of 84 car parks for cars with trailers. According to Queensland Transport, there should be 90 parks for cars with trailers for every 4 lanes of ramp. This means we have less than half the requirement at the CG!

In the document "Recreational all-tide protected weather boating facilities for Townsville city strategic planning for 2020" the Townsville City Council estimates that for our current boating population we require a total of 29 lanes of ramp (12 current plus 17 additional). This would mean an additional 600 car with trailer parking spaces. And that only for all tide all weather facilities, not creeks. When you read the numbers you start to understand just why it gets so crazy on the weekend! These numbers are just to bring us up to current standards. Looking into the future, by 2020 its estimated we will need a total of 45 lanes! Imagine if we continue with nothing being done!

As at Jan 31 2009, Townsville has just over 6000 boats registered in the 4m to 6m range. Based on the current 84 parks at CG, only 0.14% of the boating population can go fishing at the same time. Sure, some of the smaller boats use other ramps, but come on 0.14%???

Based on my calculations of numbers of registered boats in Queensland, and the cost of trailer and boat registration, the State Government raises well over $50million from registration state wide per year. That's for boats under 6m only. The State Budget 2008-09 from Queensland Transport states that $7.3million will be spent on recreational boating facilities. Again, that's state wide!!! Townsville has just over 5% of the states boating population. 5% of $50million is $2.5million.....PER YEAR. The document "Recreational all-tide protected weather boating facilities for Townsville city strategic planning for 2020" also states that its over 30 years since Townsville had any 'substantial upgrades of the major boat ramp facilities'. That's 30 years of 5% of registration money that is owed back to this city!

Please ponder these figures, and feel free to use the comments section to add your thoughts. And don't forget the petition.

Fishing Townsville success story!

I got a nice email from reader Garry Cahill the other day. After struggling with finding fish out of Townsville, he read the section on fishing the Weedbeds. He put everything into action that I mentioned in the write up and found success immediately. While he didn't get any record breakers, him and his wife were able to land several nice fish for the morning.

Thanks Garry for your kind words and the photo. My apologies it took so long for me to post. I have been busy investing lots of time and effort into the boat ramp situation!

Tuesday 26 May 2009

Where were the Spaniards?

With a steady SW breeze blowing on Friday afternoon, Adrian and I decided to change our plans and head wide of Cape Cleveland in search of some Spanish Mackerel. The original plan was to target reds on the shoals, but given the SW forecast and the possibility that the reds would be shut down, we opted for Plan B.

By 4pm we were over some rubble bottom wide of Salamander which usually holds good bait schools and plenty of Spaniards. To my surprise there was only a small scattering of baitfish and no sign of any mackerel as we trolled lures all through the area. With daylight rapidly disappearing we pulled out the metal lures and loaded the R Jayz berley canister with the offshore berley mix while we continued to drift this area. The R Jayz berley system is absolutely awesome and is the best I have used, so check it out when next at your favourite Tackle store (stay tuned for a full product review soon). Within minutes the berley was working its magic and the bait school started to rise off the bottom, with some larger fish now also joining the action. We hooked up immediately and a procession of Gold Spot, Blue Spot and Giant Trevally followed as we continued to drift while working metal lures. We could see a few Nannygai beginning to school on the bottom so Adrian dropped down some squid on a dropper rig and instantly pulled a few Nannygai – unfortunately no monsters, but it was encouraging to see that they were willing to bite.

Dilemma time – the wind and swell had dropped off and we had about 45 minutes of daylight left. Do we head back to Salamander for some Queenies and the chance of a Spaniard, OR do we work our way across to the shoals and maybe find some Spaniards on the way and chase reds after dark?

Always the eternal optimist, it was off to the shoal country. A few short stops along the way found only small bait schools, no Spaniards, but plenty of Trevally. We arrived at our target shoal just after dark, sent the R Jayz berley canister to work and began some drifts. A good school of Nannygai were soon located and we anchored perfectly, right on the fish. There are 3 reasons I always drift-fish a spot before I anchor – firstly you are able to sound out the entire area enabling you to locate the best school of fish; second, you can determine if the school is moving and in what direction; and third, you can accurately predict how you will hang at anchor so you can get it right the first time. Thanks to a good berley trail we had fish under us all night and pulled a mixed bag of Nannygai, Cobia, and Trevally. Best bait was fresh Trevally fillets and there seemed to be little difference in catch rates between myself using a running 5 bean sinker to a 7/0 tru-turn hook and Adrian using a dropper rig with a snapper lead. Actually, the only difference was that Adrian was tortured by not one, but 4 epic battles with some monsters of the deep leaving him bruised, battered and even spooled by one of the beasties!
The wind picked up considerably after midnight, causing the sloppy conditions experienced by anyone heading out on the Saturday morning. We continued to work the shoal country back to Magnetic Island, hoping that the morning ti
de may produce the Spaniards. Unfortunately, all we found was a noticeable lack of birds, baitfish and pelagics. Last stop was the northern cardinal and seas were considerably flatter inshore. Here we encountered a lone Mack Tuna that smashed a 40g sea rock and also a few half-hearted follows by some queenfish.

All in all a challenging fishing trip that did not go at all as expected – the Spaniards will have to wait until next time!

Monday 25 May 2009

Townsville Boat Ramp Petition - Update 4

The boat ramp issue was again raised in today's Townsville Bulletin. This time Sunfish spokesperson Brian Pickup is photographed launching a petition calling on the State Government to provide a new recreational boating facility. But hold on! Isn't someone already running a petition? Oh yeah, WE ARE! Its this kind of divided action that I spoke about in my last rant that will, in the long run, likely cost us this new ramp! The least Brian and Sunfish could have done is contact the team to establish what we were up to and find ways to help. Why run a petition in competition with another petition? It just divides the number of signatures.

Anyway, I will contact Sunfish myself and see if there is a way to work together! In the mean time, keep the link to our petition circulating in your emails!!

Saturday 23 May 2009

A tour of the Bay

Fishing can be wonderful and frustrating! Today for Liam and myself frustrating. We left nice and earlt from the Pallarenda boat ramp, ideal for where we intended to go butno good for coming home, more on that later. We thought we would try the Rattlesnake Island area. The first place was the barge. We got there nice and early and found the wind and slop hopeless! We did try but no success and no real baitfish schools. Next over to Acheron Island. Again the wind gave us grief but we managed to land a cod on fly. As the wind started to slack we thought we would move over to Herald Island. This time we fished around the entire Island and Liam managed 3-4 stripeys. He missed a couple of bigger fish and I dropped a small tuna. The weather seemed to be good so over to Cordellia Rocks. Liam thought it would be a good idea to go for a swim, so he threw his rod over and went in after it, alas no camera. As nice as the weather started to become the fishing did not improve. Liam managed a couple of small cod on a metal slice and nothing else. Finally we thought we would try the barge to finish but again no luck, though the other boat caught some nice large catfish, trevally and mackerel. Not a great report but all the fish bar 2 on fly for us and Liam had his new reel blooded. The final report was a 12,10 and 9 wt used all with shooting or sinking heads. The most successful fly was a sparkle metalic look fly used over shallow water 3-5m. Finally on the boat ramp, as suspected on return we decided to move the car and pick up the boat from the main ramp in town. All went well until the trailer was backed passed the end of the ramp! Potentially a nasty stuation but thanks to some advice and sensible driving by Liam we retrieved the trailer and home we went. The silly part is we needed to put the car in 4wd so it would not slip on the ramp! Hopefully we were the only incident at the ramp. No harm done. Next week hopefully more fish.

Friday 22 May 2009

Townsville Boat Ramp Petition - Update 3

The issue of poor ramp facilities was again highlighted by Eddie Riddle in today's Townsville Bulletin (fixed link). Mr Riddle is also calling on the Towsville City Council to "stop shirking their duties and responsibilities". The Townsville City Council has itself identified "a current shortfall in all-tide protected weather recreational ramp facilities in Townsville of 17 ramp lanes" and it is projected that a "further 16 ramp lanes may be required within 10 years".

However, I'm disappointed that Mr Riddle has not been able to promoted our petition in his forum. In fact, it was not been mentioned at all! This is an issue that we all need to stand together on. If the several 'small groups of disgruntled fisherman' continue to rally separately then our voice will likely go unheard. However, if we could all come together on this one, we would be a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately we are not all members of one big club, so standing together is made difficult. We need to use forums like the website and The Townsville Bulletin to come together as one.

Next Tuesday evening Dion Forman and myself will be meeting with councilor Vern Veitch to discuss the matter further. I am very keen for this meeting to take place, and will report back with the results of the discussion.

In the meantime, keep circulating the link for the online petition. Signatures are now standing at almost 300.

BCFC Lucinda 2009 - Thanks to our Sponsors

The Baptist Church Fishing Club would like to thank all of the wonderful businesses and organizations presented above for their generous sponsorship of our 10th annual Lucinda Fishing Tournament. Once again this event was a huge success with just under 200 people competing for the massive $5000 prize pool that was shared between 45 prize categories.

In particular, we would like to thank our major sponsor ANACONDA for their generous donation of prizes to the value of $1000. We would also like to acknowledge the significant sponsorship provided by Abraham Steel and Pipe Fabrications, Townsville RSL, McDonalds and Gough Plastics – your support of our major divisions is greatly appreciated. Also a big thanks to Mark Chester and his team at Advantage Signs for an amazing job on our signage - you guys are truly a pleasure to work with.

THANK YOU again to all our valued Sponsors and for your ongoing support and investment in this great event that brings families and friends together through fishing.

Saturday 16 May 2009

Winds up

I went for a quick trip this morning out to the beacons believing the met forecast. Well it seems it was both right and wrong! I fished the beacons in the channel to a forcast of 15kts and a nice sea. It was very difficult to hold the marks and really only one drop on the fly per pass. No touches and little baitfish showing. The 2 other boats that worked the mark with me had little luck as well. I thought I would go home as inshore was out. But what happens as I approached the mainland the wind died. I thought I would try Bay Rock it looked that good. After arriving nothing seemed to be happening so I did some basic drifting along the Northern edge. Thankfully a nice 47cm trevally took the fly and I was happy! After fishing through this area I moved onto Middle Reef and again drifted the area, this time mainly the Western side and a nice but small coral trout took the fly. I tried fishing but mainly watching the flats off Cockle Bay and Pallarenda, nothing seemed to be working so I moved on. I know the tide probably let me down but still worth the trip. Thats all for the report this week but I will go for a little fish this afternoon chasing some local tarpon.

Friday 15 May 2009

Townsville Boat Ramp Rally

In today's Townsville Bulletin Eddie Riddle announced that there is a small group of "disgruntled anglers are planning a 'better boat ramps' rally that could well turn into a blockade of the fast-approaching Townsville 400 V8 Supercar event". The full article can be read by following this link.

I would just like it to be publicly know that neither myself nor the team are responsible for this proposal. I have simply organised the online petition and been the one to contact TCC and Anna Bligh with regard to our needs. Anyone proposing to organise a blockade is doing so without consultation with myself or anyone from this site.

My fear is that our cause needs positive publicity in the media rather than negative. However, I share the frustration of trying to bring this problem to the attention of the State Government. To date I am still waiting for a rely from Anna Bligh.

It will be interesting to see if this action is supported by the majority of the boating community or not.

Thursday 14 May 2009

Townsville Boat Ramp Petition - Update 2

Our petition numbers now exceed 200 signatures. But we can always do with more. So continue to pass the link around to everyone in you address book!

I have emailed Anna Bligh twice now over the past few weeks, and am yet to have a reply. This is bitterly disappointing for us all. I'm not sure how we lobby our state government if they will not respond to our concerns?

Vern Veitch has responded to our cause with the following to say.


I have been lobbying (unsuccessfully) for better boat ramps for at least 15 years and share your frustrations. I am happy to meet with you and bring you up to date but there are a few things starting to happen. We have unfortunately been held up in trying to provide more parking at the only facility with offshore that we manage and legal action is pending on that. Council also responded to the Port Marine Precinct proposal with a request to include a major new facility but that is a decision for the State Government.

We are expanding facilities at Stoney Creek to include an extra ramp (funded by Queensland Transport) and expanded parking facilities to increase capacity from 15 to 50 parking spaces. This was a 3 year project that included land transfers, native title clearances and coordinated funding applications. We have initiated a committee to have input into a 10 year strategic plan for estuarine boat ramps.

The problem with the need for an all-tide ramp for offshore access however will continue unless recreational boat owners can combine together to effectively lobby the state government and convince them of the need. In the past we have been fragmented and too many boat owners have taken the "not my job" attitude. Unless the vast majority come on board and are prepared to give up a bit of their time, the politicians will not see it as a priority and the money will be spent on other projects.

As I said at the start, I am always happy to meet on these issues but the need for a powerful lobby group to pursue this is critical to a successful outcome,


Tuesday 12 May 2009

Baptist Church Fishing Club - Lucinda Tournament Results

The Baptist Church Fishing Club’s 10th annual Lucinda Fishing Tournament was a another great weekend of fishing with friends and family, with just under 200 club members and visitors taking part in this year’s event. It was great to see so many new faces and also to see so many families fishing together. There were kids fishing everywhere - what an investment in fishing for the future! And what about those sensational fish baked on the BBQ by Mary! There are many more highlights, but on with the results….

The Weigh Masters were again kept very busy with a total of 28 anglers weighing 52 fish for a total weight of 103.63kg. An additional 139 fish were released over the weekend and 5 solid mud crabs also made it to the scales. An excellent result given the poor weather and it was great to see the numbers of fish being released on the increase. Final results are posted below and congratulations to all those who fished, and particularly to the winners who managed to catch quality fish under tough fishing conditions.

Also a huge THANK YOU again to all our wonderful Sponsors whose valued support makes this competition bigger and better every year, bringing people of all ages and walks of life together through fishing.

Division Winners

Senior Male: Rod Gear 177.5 pnts
Senior Female: Sylvia Gear 125.0 pnts
Sub Junior Male: Jayden Jacobs 74.8 pnts
Sub Junior Female: Teal Warner 70.4 pnts
Spearfishing: Robert Riley 41.35 pnts
Lure/Fly: Michael St John Wood 169.5 pnts
Landbased Male: Ian Ferguson 70.8 pnts
Landbased Female: Anna Skillington 42.4 pnts
Catch & Release: Michael St John Wood 88.5 pnts
Hard Yakka: Camden Foster 110 pnts
Mud Crab: Brent Quayle 27.0 pnts

Individual Results

Senior Male:

Rod Gear 177.5 pnts
Bream (Pikey) 0.48kg 38.4pnts
Flathead (Dusky) 0.83kg 29.1pnts
Mangrove Jack 1.0kg 50pnts
Whiting 0.24kg 30pnts
Whiting 0.24kg 30pnts

Michael St John Wood 169.5 pnts
Queenfish 5.9kg 88.5pnts
Queenfish 5.4kg 81pnts

Bryan Logan 163.5 pnts
Queenfish 5.2kg 78.0pnts
Queenfish 5.7kg 85.5pnts

Dion Forman 157.5pnts
Queenfish 5.9kg 88.5pnts
Queenfish 4.6kg 69pnts

Tony Elms 150.0pnts
Queenfish 5.1kg 76.5pnts
Queenfish 4.9kg 73.5pnts

Mitch Warrener 136.5pnts
Queenfish 5.1kg 76.5pnts
Queenfish 4.0kg 60pnts

Ian Ferguson 134.4pnts
Sickle Fish 1.77kg 70.8pnts
Sickle Fish 0.95kg 38pnts
Bream (Pikey) 0.32kg 25.6pnts

Will Ward 99.5pnts
Mackerel (Shark) 3.0kg 75pnts
Coral Trout 0.98kg 24.5pnts

Robert Riley 94.3pnts
Bream (Pikey) 0.26kg 20.8pnts
Queenfish 4.9kg 73.5pnts

Ashley Evans 87.0pnts
Queenfish 5.8kg 87.0pnts

Terry Riley 76.5pnts
Queenfish 5.1kg 76.5pnts

Lance Stone 65.8pnts
Queenfish 2.6kg 39pnts
Cod (Estuary) 0.68kg 13.6pnts
Cod (Estuary) 0.68kg 13.6pnts

Jordan Quayle 57.5pnts
Mangrove Jack 0.8kg 40pnts
Whiting 0.14kg 17.5pnts

Greg Tanner 52.4pnts
Sickle Fish 0.5kg 20.0pnts
Sickle Fish 0.81kg 32.4pnts

Ray Elliman 29.6pnts
Bream (Pikey) 0.37kg 29.6pnts

Ian Stephens 26.8pnts
Sickle Fish 0.67kg 26.8pnts

Senior Female:

Sylvia Gear 125.0pnts
Mangrove Jack 1.03kg 51.5pnts
Mangrove Jack 0.87kg 43.5pnts
Whiting 0.24kg 30.0pnts

Allison Quayle 60.0pnts
Mangrove Jack 1.20kg 60.0pnts

Tania Brown 49.6pnts
Cod (Estuary) 0.92kg 18.4pnts
Bream (Pikey) 0.39kg 31.2pnts

Anna Skillington 42.4pnts
Sickle Fish 1.06kg 42.4pnts

Trisha Forman 32.0 pnts
Bream (Pikey) 0.40kg 32.0pnts

Sub-Junior Male:

Jayden Jacobs 74.75pnts
Whiting 0.15kg 18.75pnts
Bream (Pikey) 0.70kg 56.0pnts

Ben Forman 36.25pnts
Whiting 0.29kg 36.25pnts

David Beresford 7.8pnts
Trevally 0.52kg 7.8pnts

Sub-Junior Female:

Teal Warner 70.4pnts
Bream (Pikey) 0.4kg 32.0pnts
Bream (Pikey) 0.48kg 38.4pnts

Emily Forman 37.5pnts
Whiting 0.3kg 37.5pnts


Robert Riley 41.35pnts
Mackerel (Shark) 4.75kg 23.75pnts
Coral Trout 2.2kg 17.6pnts

Chris Riley 9.2pnts
Coral Trout 1.15kg 9.2pnts

Russell Beresford 3.36pnts
Bream (Slatey) 1.68kg 3.36pnts

Sunday 10 May 2009

Wet and woolly

Went for a short trip North yesterday and hunted some sootie's and barramundi. Richard and Malcolm came along for the fish and the road trip. We actually covered over 350kms! Some would question the sanity of this and I was questioned on the day.

As it turned out it started to drizzle from about 50km out and continued until we left. The nice part was that we all caught fish. Malcolm a couple or tarpon and sootie's on soft plastics and Richard and I a sooty on fly.

Again the sanity was questioned but it is this point where we look at why we go fly fishing. I personally am not sure. I enjoy the trip, I enjoy the walk and I enjoy the fishing. I do feel I need to catch a fish but that seems to be where it sits. I could get a bit melancholy here but I might leave it. Malcolm thinks I need to get to the high country and chase some trout for awhile and I think he might be right! But we will wait and see. Enjoy the day, enjoy the fish.

Sooty Grunter

Yesterday afternoon I joined fly fishers Ward and Richard on an expedition chasing Sooty Grunter. We left Townsville at about 1.30 in the afternoon, and didn't arrive at our fishing destination until just after 3.30. Yeah, it was a fair drive. But the water we were to fish looked fantastic. Very clear, very fishy and very remote.

My first cast saw a small Barra flash my soft plastic. But being the first cast I was not really ready. And the cast was over a pretty rocky area, so my first though was the lure had bumped the rocks. But a silver flash confirmed it was a fish.

Over the next couple of hour we walked and cast and walked and cast, and finally we walked some more. It was not as fishy as we had hoped, bit cold I suspect. But Ricard finished with a nice Sooty, Ward 1 Sooty and myself 2 Sooties and 2 Tarpon. I think I might give this spot a miss until things warm up again. Just too far to drive/walk for my liking.

It rained most of the time we were there. So by the end of the day I was looking forward to a nice hot pie from a servo on the way home.

Saturday 9 May 2009

Wards Queenfish on Fly

Video from a few weeks ago. Just getting the chance to get it up. Its one of a few Queenfish Ward landed on fly from around the North Cardinal. From memory he was using a 10wt fly rod.

Friday 8 May 2009

Townsville Boat Ramps - Bohle River

The Bohle River boat ramp is a reasonable quality dual lane 'keyhole' style ramp. The sides of which are cemented to prevent collapse of the bank. Unfortunately, this makes the ramp a little fibreglass un-frendly. However, the recent addition of a floating walkway pontoon has made launching and retrieving much easier and safer.

The Bohle ramp is relatively easy to locate. Simply head North out of Townsville and into the suburb of Bushland Beach. Follow Marina Drive until the road ends. There is a short section of dirt, but no problems for conventional vehicles.

The ramp itself is actually located on a side creek (stony creek) of the Bohle proper. It is access through this creek that presents a tidal problem more so than the ramp. Most boats find tides greater than 1m are needed to get through Stony. The worst section is at the mouth of Stony Creek where it enters the Bohle. The Bohle is reasonably deep in most places.

Like most of the ramps in the Townsville region, the Bohle gets very busy on weekends and public holidays. Traffic can be heavy and patience is required as boats coming and going can be painfully slow. The car park can also become very congested and spaces are limited. The majority of the car park is a dirt base. This can become very muddy during periods of heavy rain. It should also be noted that there are two lanes at the top of the ramp that are designated 'rigging' zones. Nobody should park long term in this area as it makes reversing down the ramp very difficult and tight.

There are no facilities at this ramp at all. No toilets, no wash down, no cleaning tables and no security. In fact, this is ones of the worst ramps in Townsville for damage to vehicles. Do not leave valuables in your car, lock the trailer to the vehicle and avoid leaving the car at the ramp for overnight trips. Its also a good idea to check wheel nuts and trailer couplings when returning to the car!

The Bohle River is positioned well for easy offshore runs North of Townsville. Locations such as West Point, Bay and Burdekin Rocks and Rattlesnake are in easy range of small boats. In fact, Rattlesnake is only 10nm from the mouth. Compare this to 17nm from the main ramps in town.

The only problem with ocean runs is the mouth of the Bohle is shallow and difficult to navigate. Allow 1.5m of tide and take great care.

Thursday 7 May 2009

Fishing Location - Weedbeds

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'

Alternatively, people with access to Alligator creek can launch their boat there, and run just a few minutes out from the mouth. The Alligator creek boat ramp is located on private property, and a key is needed for access. However, this is an especially convenient access point in moderate SE winds, when the run across the bay is rather uncomfortable. Once inside the cape there is considerable protection from any southerly wind.

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 Fish

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!

Live baits can be fished on the weed beds, but collection is a little difficult as there really isn’t an easy place to collect on the way. Luckily, pilchards work brilliantly. I fish a half pilchard on a double gang of 4/0’s. A full pilchard tends to get hit with a lower hookup rate. Many people like to fish pilchards under floats of party balloons or foam, I don’t. It just complicates the rig and takes some of the fun out of the fight. It also restricts the bait to a particular depth. Instead, I fish the pilchard totally un-weighted. That way it sinks quite naturally and covers the full depth of the water. Contrary to popular belief, a mackerel will pick bait up off the bottom. If the bait has been out a few minutes, give it a slow wind to move it up off the bottom. Even slow wind it back in before casting it out again. It’s amazing how many mackerel will follow the bait all the way back to the boat, particularly if the water is extra still and very clear. Oh, and you don’t need wire when fishing with gangs! Yes, you will loose the odd fish, but the extra strikes will be well worth it.

The best tides are the bigger ones around the new and full moon. But it may be hard to fish during the peak of the run, mainly due to un-weighted baits being held close to the surface. And often fish will go off the bite during the change of tide. So the Last of the run in and first of the run out is prime. For best results fish early morning and later afternoon, with morning being the pick of the two. This may mean running out in the dark, so as to be there from first light. With a good burly trail running, it’s possible to keep the fish biting up to about 11am. But more often things go quiet around 9.30 or 10am. Occasionally schools of garfish will enter the burly trail. Later in the morning it may be worth catching a few to use as live bait. This can entice the mackerel at a time of day they would otherwise go quiet. Just remember the yellow zone rules. If you have a line in to catch garfish, you can’t have a line in for mackerel at the same time. Evening fishing can be good, but usually a good bite is pulled to a screaming halt by the fading light.

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.