Winter wading in Yeppoon – Clayton Nicholls 2013

The time of year has come again when the flatties and little estuary pelagics like the trevally and queenfish have come to haunt our estuaries. Taking advantage of a break between the constant rainfall CQ has been receiving, I managed to make my way down to the local estuaries and fished the tide from outgoing to incoming. I have found that this is when many of the species I want to target will be active.

The first target area on the agenda was the Causeway Lake. Although this is possibly one of the most overfished places in the area, there is always a good fish in there for the people who try hard. The back regions of the lake were my first spot of enquiry, as the water around the edge is ankle deep and most of the lake is a shallow flat, therefore it doesn’t take much more than a pair of reef walkers to walk the edges. I started behind the boat hire and edged along the banks casting to the front and out to the side as I moved along. My rig was a simple curl tail plastic rigged to 8 pound fluorocarbon. Instead of slow rolling, or the lift and drop technique, I twitched the lure out of the mangroves which enticed a few Moses perch and bream. The plastic was very lightly weighted to increase the hang time after it was twitched up from the bottom.

After a quick lunch when the tide was dead low, I made my way out to the front, this time rigged with a hard body vibe. I stood on the edge of the bank and made my way along the edge, starting at the bridge casting out the vibe in all directions. It wasn’t long until the sharp lift and drop enticed a fish, but unfortunately it was just a small cod. The trick with this area is to never give up; you can cast in the same spot and pull cod after cod and then on the next cast hook up to something completely different. I made my way down a little further and finally felt the head shakes on the rod which I was after. The fish took a run right up into the rocks and I felt the leader pluck on a snag, but thankfully the tough, abrasive resistant fluorocarbon was doing its job. After a few smaller runs the fish was done and I landed the first and biggest flathead of the day.

To entice some more fish, I found it necessary to change the colour of the lure. The next two flathead were nothing of bragging size, although as a result of being pulled from the same area as the larger one, I made the assumption that these were two smaller males surrounding the larger female.  The wind suddenly turned and blew a gale making the water all choppy and churned up; the day was quickly brought to a standstill.

The next of the great spots for walking the flats needs a little more planning. You can either take a beaten up dirt road or wait until the tide is out enough and enter via Bangalee, taking your car up to the sand point and driving into the car park.  From there the fishing begins. I first set up with a hard body vibe and flicked it right out across the channel as I walked alongside it. Nothing seemed to be taking the lure but I persisted.

After being frustrated over dropping a few hook-ups, I took off the current lure. While scanning the area to select the next lure to try, I noticed a school of bait swimming rapidly across the shallows which I had previously mistaken as a school of mullet or whiting. It was clear from the wake in the water behind them that, whatever they were, they were being chased by something.

I tied on a hard body spoon and cast it out well past the disturbed fish before speeding it in. I instantly hooked up on a nice trevally that decided to turn side on and pin itself in the current, so I had to quickly take off after it to regain some of the line. Once I gained some line back and the fish had finally finished holding itself in the current, I could put some hurt on and get it to the bank, but only after a few more short and fast runs from the fish. The trevally was quite a good fight and fortunately a few more had moved up into the area and were taking to the lure quite well.

I tried to land one of these fish on a surface lure, but as fast as I worked it, or as large as the pops or twitches were, they just wouldn’t take to it as well as the sub surface spoon. As soon as I put the spoon back on I had another hook-up and another trevally was landed. The tide then went out and left the area exposed and the trevally shot off to another area.

I pushed on into the creek and put on a lightly weighted flick bait. When twitched from the snags very slowly, this technique produced a few smaller grunter, but nothing with bragging rights. I had a feeling the snag was holding something a little bigger, but it just didn’t want the plastic. I put on a hard body vibe and flicked it among the snags and used a very slow lift and drop technique. It wasn’t long before a nice bream smashed the lure right in front of the snags. The bream struggled hard trying to get back into the snag but eventually gave in and was landed. For the last fish of the day it was a real thrill to see a big healthy bream in the area.

The sun was quickly dropping and the tide was moving in, so I quickly made my way back to the car and shot off along the beach. Unfortunately being the last person to take the ramp out of the beach before the tide reshaped the sand at the bottom, the sand was all churned up from others getting bogged at the bottom. Fortunately the rodeo ploughed through without a loss of momentum and eased itself up the ramp.

Taking a few different lures and jig heads in a variety of colours on a trip can make or break the trip if one lure isn’t working, give the other a go. I know a person who changes lure if he doesn’t get a fish in the first three casts; it’s a bit excessive but it works for him.

Fish light, get the bite!