Sweet Missions – Jeff Wilton July 2016

When the alarm goes off at 3am and you’re already wide awake and drinking your second coffee you know you’re keen for the coming days fishing mission. Sure enough my mate arrived 15 mins early which cemented the fact that he too was overly excited at what this day could bring.

It was no surprise as each week we spend endless hours scouring Google Earth sending screen shots to each other, every conversation centres around where we are going to go next and the potential of mind blowing fishing.

I am lucky enough to call Lucinda NQ home and this area has an endless supply of sweet-water creeks that wind themselves down from the mountains or connect like a maze to other major creeks. Some of these are well known and it is no surprise to see a car parked at a known ‘jump-in’ point most weekends. These spots produce fish and offer sometimes amazing sessions if you time it right but the spots normally have footprints, they may be a week or 2 old but this means someone else was here.

Footprints mean that the fish have been chased recently and will be much more cautious, if these prints are to recent you may walk kilometres and not see a fish. So to combat this we spend hours scouring maps and planning ‘jump-in’ points that should we hope have rarely (or never) seen other anglers.

There is nothing like the feeling of entering a sweet-water stream and wondering how many people before you have laid eyes on what you’re seeing. How many lures have these fish seen before? Here in the Tropics we chase the iconic Jungle Perch (JPs), the aggressive brawler the Sooty Grunter as well as Barra and Jacks. But no matter where you are located there will be some kind of Sweetwater mission you can get stuck into. So before you start scouring maps and finding your hiking shoes take into consideration a few important facts.

Where to jump-in?

So as a rule unless you have the consent of property owners you will need to be parking somewhere legally and trekking into the creek. Now I will admit that we have did some kilometres running down cane fields in the dark, crawling on our bellies with torches in mouth to access some spots. I don’t want a nasty email or phone call describing how you had farmers chasing you on quad bikes or gunshots whizzing over your heads, or packs of dogs hunting you down.When planning a walk you normally need to decide to jump in somewhere known and trek for kilometres (sometimes LOTS) to get to areas that see less traffic or somehow work out how to access that area straight away.

If the spot you have chosen is very close to the creek and offers easy access it will most probably be fairly well used, remember fishing these creeks is not a secret and plenty do it. For the last year I can’t remember walking into a spot where we haven’t needed machetes to cut through the jungle and sometimes walking 100 metres takes an hour. Google earth is great for showing the proximity of where you are to the creek but the actual landscape and what lies beneath the green jungle can be a surprise.

This also leads to amusement when you finally reach the creek after an hour of abseiling and tree climbing, you check all your arms and legs are still intact and your rod is still in 1 piece. You then look over the other side of the creek and there is a perfect walking track or road leading in….oh that’s always funny.


So the last thing you want to do is spend countless hours doing your homework and finding a potential epic location then forget something. A good mid-size backpack is all you need but make sure it’s comfy as an entire day trekking in the hot tropical heat will sort you out.

Lots of water will make up most of the weight and although most streams if need be you could probably drink the water it’s a good idea to not have to. Its simple fishing and you only need a small handful of lures and plastics. It’s a good idea to pack everything into small water tight containers as there is a very good chance you will be wading or swimming at some point and a near certainty you will fall over and into the water at some stage. Now that I have raised the subject of falling over, it will happen and if you’re unlucky you may do some serious damage. So far we have been lucky but we have had several close calls.

On one occasion I had just climbed up a rock face with my mate following only to hear him slip and fall (a fair way) to the bottom. I was immediately fumbling for my mobile as I peered over the edge thinking of seeing him with something broken, but somehow he managed to land ok and although sore he was able to walk out. A mobile is essential but in a majority of cases will be useless as you will not have reception.

Good shoes that are lightweight but offer grip and foot protection are worth their weight in gold. I wear long pants and long sleeve shirts always, they protect from the sun and also from biting insects and stinging / prickly trees etc.

For those that haven’t checked them out the clothing from Sun2Sea is awesome and is tough and makes walking all day a breeze. It’s the little things that can make a huge difference and being comfortable but protecting yourself from the elements will make your trip more pleasant.

A small first aid kit is a necessity and make sure it includes a few bandages as there is no shortage of snakes, and every tree in the tropics seems to have razors for leaves so getting sliced and diced happens regularly.

I must also add that letting someone know your planned location along with your approximate return time is a smart move as if things go pear shaped you know in time someone will come looking for you. If you have the money those small personal Epirb would be a smart investment.

But I can’t stress enough the fact of ALWAYS fishing with another person, this is the ultimate back up as they may need to carry you out or vice-versa. Last but not least here in the tropics we are always cautious of Crocs and this will apply through most of QLD. Yes the chances are minimal especially along way up tiny creeks but there is ALWAYS the chance.

The fishing and gear:

As I said before Sweetwater missions can be taken anywhere in QLD. So I’m not going to be real specific here in terms of rods, reels and tackle. If you are beginning in this type of fishing technique I would suggest a visit to your local tackle store or some quality time on the Internet.

I can guarantee you that no one is going to give you there best spots to try, but the wealth of knowledge available these days is amazing so research and use it. For example social media sights are a constant supply of fishing nirvana and just skimming through and noting the tackle used will help.

It’s very easy to find out what certain species like to eat in regards to lures and plastics so stock up on what you see regularly in your target species mouths. Here in the tropics it’s all about the light spin gear, rods rated 2-4 kg matched with a 2500 size reel or smaller with 4-10lb braid is all that’s necessary.

The lures and plastics for JPs and Sooties are normally small and light so you have to be using gear with the ability to throw light weights a fair distance. Again no matter your Sweetwater location you will be needing to make some crazy casts, so be prepared for some frustration sometimes.

When you can see several JPs free swimming around but to land your lure close it requires an underarm flick with no back swing, 2 ricochets off the bank, and a 10 meter skip under 3 trees all whilst green ants crawl over your face and mozzies attack your eye lids.

I can tell you with certainty your casting ability will improve dramatically.Exploring and fishing Sweetwater locations will provide you with the most breathtaking views, sometimes each time you round the next corner you are faced with another post card perfect picture. A good camera should always be on hand as there will be no shortage of picture opportunities even if they don’t feature fish.

So in closing be aware that fishing the Sweetwater has the potential to be very rewarding with stacks of dream fish fighting over your lure as you watch them in crystal clear water. It is highly addictive and may mean you are spending your lunch times sitting in the corner at work glued to maps on your phone.

Your backyard may resemble a junk yard as you re-create that impossible cast you couldn’t make last walk, but will nail next time. It is far from easy and takes a mediumdegree of fitness and a high level of adventurous spirit. But if it was easy everybody would be doing it and its appeal would be lost. In fishing that age old problem of ‘one last cast’ always means the arrival home is pushed back slightly. When fishing the Sweetwater the saying changes….’just one more corner’ problem is there is always another corner!

Get Keen and get out there.