We all have our own favorite holiday destinations, some are well known and others not so well known, and then you have the destinations that you would prefer to be kept secret, like my favourite creek somewhere in the Mackay area.
When we arrived on our recent trip, we set up camp and Paul and I headed off to check out the major creek and its channels. It looked much the same as from our last visit: a healthy system with beautiful clean water and abundant bait, so we were confident that a fish or two would be on the cards.
We decided to do some lure casting into the mouths of the fast emptying drains using a variety of soft plastics and hardbodied lures.
The black bream where prevalent. We easily spotted them as they cruised along the shoreline, weaving in and out of the mangrove roots, they couldn’t resist Paul’s soft plastic dropped in front of them, or the hardbodied lure I plopped in their path.
The next morning we headed off upstream to fish the rock bars in one of the creeks. Paul’s old glass dory cruised across the mirror flat water and in no time we had dropped the pick over the rock bar.
We didn’t take any live bait as we intended to see if the soft plastics and blades could entice any takers out of their stony lairs. We had been fishing quite a while using different lures and techniques when I decided to change to a Jazz lures Deka Botum 70mm Blade.
I put it on my 4kg outfit and proceeded to cast and retrieve over the rocks below hoping not to loose it on the jagged structure. The first few casts were fruitless, but just as I had nearly retrieved the blade back to the boat it was engulfed and the line started peeling off my outfit.
At first I thought it was a fingermark, which would really have tested my tackle. But after several long runs we started to think it was a salmon – wrong again. To our surprise a beautiful black jew rolled next to the boat and after another couple of runs and we had it in the boat.
We stayed in the creek through the low tide and checked out the structure for future reference. With water now fast disappearing we headed of back to camp trolling lures as we went, catching and releasing cod and flathead along the way.
Later that afternoon we fished a little side creek that had a lot of bait visible. It wasn’t long before the soft plastic Paul dropped into a deeper section was inhaled by a very active 45cm barra. A second barra about the same size followed the first before the midges drove us back to camp.
Back at camp we had a full house with Paul and Jill; their daughter Emily, her partner Mick and their daughter Sienna; Andrew and Emma; and Simon and his partner, also Emma – it pretty confusing for us for a few days too. But on the plus side we had three boats between us to increase our scope in searching for fish as we approached the full moon.
The next day all the boats were in and we heading out fishing early, concentrating on the smaller feeder creeks using soft plastics and hardbodied lures.
We didn’t strike too many fish early until Paul noticed a hump on the sounder at the entrance to one of the creeks with fish laying in behind it. Emma soon christened the new Pflueger outfit with a healthy grunter, followed with a good trevally. Mick and Simon also got in on the action and caught a few grunter on soft plastics.
The tide was now racing back out and the fish went off the bite so we all went in different directions looking for structure and hopefully fish.
Over the next few days we repeated this scenario with various species being caught and released. But unfortunately the bad weather that hit central Queensland also hit us – in one night we had 100mm! But we did fill our water tank with 400L collected from the tarp and buckets, so at least we didn’t have to go and get water.
With overcast conditions, occasional rain and persistent wind for the remainder of our stay we were confident that the passing of the full moon would again bring the fish on. We also had to adapt to fishing the dirty water conditions.
In one particular area as the tide recedes out of the creeks, it is concentrated into one area of contact with the mainland. As the water surges around the mud bank it creates a network of eddies and combined with a bit of coloured water, it creates an irresistible ambush area for barra and salmon. Paul and Emily took up residence fishing this spot, throwing live herring into the ever-increasing swirls of water.
Emily nailed the first salmon, soon followed by another. A hot session was in progress and in no time they had enough for their needs. Kate, our daughter, and I were coming back downstream when we saw Paul and Emily on the ‘corner’, so we pulled up along side to join the action. But by the time we got the bait in the water the only thing biting were steelbacks, so it was time to head off for lunch.
The next day we decided that live bait was the best way to go to acquire a good feed of fish to take home. Paul and I headed back to the rock bar, and Paul had only just dropped the first live herring into the water when the reel screamed as the bait was taken in a ferocious strike. Then the next bait went off too and two good fingermark came on board.
Andrew and the girls had no luck so the ritual of “back to camp” for lunch, seemed like a good idea. Back at camp Andrew contacted Mick over the radio and the garbled message came back “Big salmon and barra”, which sounded like a promising lead to investigate after lunch.
We found Mick searching the drains for more live bait, he and Emily had been up at the ‘corner’ where Emily had landed a nice salmon, with a broken rod butt to boot! She followed it up with an equally nice barra, on Mick’s rod.
Andrew headed downstream to the mouth of the main creek where all the major flats drain into one area. It was shallow and the fast flowing tide was slowing, so it looked productive. Kate quickly had a 35cm whiting in the boat and followed that with a couple of good bream. Emma got in on the act with another good whiting while Andrew and I admired the view!
The drag on my Abu baitfeeder rattled and a good bream came to the boat and by the time the light faded we had a bucket of good whiting and bream, which was a fitting way to end our last day.
Our secret destination is quite special, fishing and crabbing mixed in with a degree of solitude. It would be a shame to see it developed beyond the long-drop dunny and basic camp sites, the payment honesty system and the ordinary access. It’s up to us to keep it that way by doing the right thing, so when you’re camping keep within the boundaries set out by the National Parks and we will continue to have that little bit of paradise.Reads: 1549