4WD fishing in Byfield National Park – Clayton Nicholls SEP 13
‘Five Rocks’, as it is referred to, is an area of the Byfield National Park situated north of Yeppoon. The locality of Byfield itself is around a half hour’s drive from the heart of Yeppoon. Five Rocks is known for its great fishing and four-wheel drive activities and is surrounded by pristine beaches such as Nine Mile and Three Rivers. All of these are accessible by four-wheel drive and are a great getaway for anyone, whether you are a hardcore enthusiast or first timer to four-wheel driving.
The journey to Five Rocks is not a hard one, simply take the Yeppoon Byfield Road out of town and follow that road to the Five Rocks turn off. Most standard car GPS systems will be able to find it, let alone the variety of smart phones people carry these days. When starting and ending the trips, we always go to the Byfield Cafe to get a bite to eat and take a little break before the fun begins. After that we head on back to the turn off and take the track all the way through to Five Rocks itself. The hardest part is “Big Sandy”, the large sand dune you have to climb without much notice. A turbo diesel in second with a tire pressure of 20Psi will climb the hill no worries. Once the hill climb is done, the rest of the track is a piece of cake. Once we reach Five Rocks itself and look over the headlands, we establish where we are going to fish.
Nine Mile Beach is a great fishing area, with many gutters along the beach and a plentiful supply of sand worms. The gutters are loaded with bream, whiting, flathead and many smaller trevally. When the weather is good, it’s not rare to find many people down on Nine Mile trying their luck for some of the big whiting that traverse the gutters. The common rig for this location is a surf paternoster with a single dropper hooked with some fresh worm or other fresh baits. On the lure side of things, three inch flick baits skipped along the bottom will get you any of the species around the gutters, while small slugs, stick baits and skipping plastics over the surface will see any of the trevally or queenies jump onto your line.
Northern Corio can be accessed by the southern end of Nine Mile Beach through a small dirt track. The northern end of Corio is a massive flat with many small salt and freshwater creeks trickling into it. These flats are great for walking and sight-casting for bream and flathead and it is very rare to not see any activity in this location. The best way to fish this area is put some lures or rigs into a backpack and walk the flats and creeks trying to find any drop-offs or fish markings, such as flathead lays or the triangles the barra make in the muddy banks when they are turning the bait around in their mouth. Small ‘bream sized’ hard bodies, flick baits and prawn imitation lures work great in this area of the national park.
Five Rocks and Stockyard Point offer some incredible fishing for any species, whether you drift out pillies for mackerel, cast poppers for trevally or try your luck for grunter, Moses perch, cod and bream with small hard bodies and plastics. These areas are only truly accessible on low tide and require some serious footwear… unless you enjoy walking on barnacles and jagged rocks. Flicking smaller plastics has seen a variety of fish caught, but deep-diving, smaller hard bodies retrieved at a medium pace has always proven successful on catching any of the species and requires little effort to do so. A good kit to take when walking the rocks would be some 3-4 inch flick baits, a few prawn imitations (both soft plastic and hard body), poppers ranging from 50mm to 80mm, a few chrome slugs, and some deep diving hard bodies in a variety of lengths and sizes are also good additions to your tackle box for this area. Fluorocarbon leader is a must in this area, especially fishing around all the jagged rocks and barnacles.
Three Rivers is home to some more good fishing with a freshwater creek always running into the ocean creating a patch of turbid water loaded with fish species. Working soft plastics along the beach is a great way to cover a large amount of ground in very little time. In these instances I catch more and better quality fish than my mates who tend to throw a lot of bait in the water and hope for something decent. Three inch scented flick baits are great for catching bream and trevally along this stretch of coastline. Try letting lightly weighted plastics waft down in the current while you let them sink before erratically jerking off the bottom again. When you are fishing around Three Rivers, take note and be aware of the “no trespassing” signs that mark the boundary for Shoalwater Bay. Also worth noting is a freezer from a cargo ship that washed up on the beach. It can be spotted in the freshwater creek inlet. At the time it washed ashore, it was loaded with thousands of dollars worth of prawns and bugs. Needless to say, the word spread fast and many people ate like kings for a few weeks.
What to bring
The Five Rocks tracks should only be attempted by four-wheel drive vehicles, but nothing specialized is needed. Once the dirt track ends and turns into sand, that is the time to let your tires down. A tire deflator with pressure gauge is very handy for this; I keep mine in my glove box. When planning the trip, decide how long you will be staying and make sure you have adequate food and water for the trip. Another big one is a full tank of petrol. If you are spending a few days four-wheel driving around and trying your luck on some of the other tracks around the place, some jerry cans of spare fuel will go a long way. Recovery gear really only needs to be basics. I have never needed to use these yet, but a pair of recovery tracks and a snatch strap kit can go a long way. Some shelter from the sun during the day or heavy dew and coastal showers at night is also another great idea, a simple 3x3m gazebo will see any aspect covered, no pun intended. UHF radios are a good thing to consider; even a cheapo hand-held system is good enough for easy car-to-car or car-to-person communication, if needed (mobile phone reception is sketchy at best). A good air compressor is essential to take for pumping your tires up when you get back onto the dirt tracks to avoid any punctures and give you better maneuverability.
When staying on an overnight trip, it is essential to book a campground, either at the Five Rocks camping area that has basic amenities such as a drop toilet and showers, or one of the four camp grounds along Nine Mile Beach. These campsites are far nicer but have no amenities. Bookings can be made atnprsr.qld.gov.au or, alternatively, visit one of the information centers around Rockhampton.