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Fishing the Great Sandy Straits
  |  First Published: December 2012



The small coastal town of Poona is located roughly between Tin Can Bay and Maryborough in Southern Queensland. Looking east out over the Great Sandy Straits you will spot the southern tip of Fraser Island and the northern tip of Rainbow Beach on a clear day.

The Straits are a boaties haven, as you are able to access a plethora of open water, small islands, bays, inlets, sand flats and creeks with fish ranging from barramundi, threadfin salmon, mackerel, tailor, flathead, bream, whiting, mangrove jack and an array of other coastal species.

Having a house situated smack bang on the water at Poona, opens up a variety of fishing techniques, including my favourite – kayaking. The major benefit of kayaking on the Straits is that it allows you to access a lot of water that the majority of boats can’t. For most of its stretch, the Straits are only 2-3m deep. Being a shallow section of waterway, there are a lot of exposed banks at low tide, which instantly cuts down your fishing time by 40% as the boat ramp and foreshore become inaccessible about 2 hours either side of dead low tide.

The mud banks are home to yabbies, or nippers depending on where you come from, and so all manner of fish life push in with the tide to feed on any slow or exposed crustaceans. Fishing from the banks here with live yabbies and prawns can be very successful for whiting, bream, flathead and tailor in the colder months. Surface lures, shallow diving lures and soft plastics will generally return a similar result.

Every time I turn up to the house at low tide I take the dog for a walk out along the flats looking over the area taking note of the rocks, oyster formations and mangrove sections. When the water comes back I can fish this structure from the beach or out of the kayak with confidence.

Having a boat to explore this vast expanse of water is an absolute must, it opens up areas like Garys Anchorage on the western side of Fraser, Ungowa to the north and a multitude of small islands, reefs and creeks in between. There are a few well known marked out fishing grounds like the ‘leaning stick’, Kauri Creek and the blue hole but I find these spots a little too obvious so I like to head to more secluded areas, locating structure and sounding out deep holes holding bait and fish.

Launching from the Poona boat ramp, you are always fishing to a deadline. If you miss the tides you can’t get back in and you’re stuck out in the Straits until the next high tide, which isn’t always a bad thing as long as the fish are on. A well known barra spot is about 15-20 minute boat ride from the Poona boat ramp and when you get to this idyllic deep creek it just screams fish. Although I’ve never caught a barra from there reports from other locals have been astonishing, especially being this close to Brisbane.

The last time we were there, we motored a short way up the creek under electric power from a 4.8m tinnie flicking tasty looking lures. Although struggling to get even a touch, there were big tail swirls here and there giving away a little information about what might be in the waters. Some locals have reported crocs in this creek in particular, but resounding lack of photo evidence, especially in this day and age of camera phones, leads me to believe it might just be a ploy to frighten off some tourists…

Either way, the Government’s ears pricked at the word croc and sure enough signs slowly popped up here and there. Job done I can hear the smug locals laughing to themselves, but if it means less pressure on my favourite fishing grounds and lets the residents have at least a few spots to themselves then I’m all for it.

The more well known creeks like Kauri, Black Swan and Poona are generally fished hard around the mouths, especially about halfway up, so I generally try to access the less fished areas in the kayak. This lets me explore some of the skinnier areas that even the smallest of tinnies can’t get to.

These quiet, secluded feeder creeks can be home to barra, mulloway, aggressive mangrove jack and feisty bream. Picking the outfit to take through these spots are hard so you need to decide what you want to target and take the one rod so you’re not constantly moving them out of the way of trees and branches. Once you’re on to your target species it becomes a whole new ball game, whether it’s a rat bream or mangrove jack the matrix of underwater snags makes it very hard to pull out even a small fish and if you’re not on top of your game anything a little bigger will bust you off and you will be donating a lot of your tackle.

The trick is to tie the kayak up to a fallen tree or branch a little away from the snag you want to fish, sit quietly and wait with zero slack in the line ready to strike. I generally give myself a bit more room and sit on the opposite bank casting to the structure. Fish in these secluded parts don’t see much traffic so the key is to keep quiet and not spook the fish whichever fishing style you use.

Poona Creek is long and windy and receives a fair bit of traffic. Unless, you search a little further upstream past a nearly inaccessible rock bar and into some long deep pools separated by sand banks and more rock bars. It’s possible to take a small tinny to this stretch, lift the motor and drag the boat across this bar on high tide but towing a kayak behind the boat is a superb option.

I like to anchor up the boat near this rock bar and paddle the kayak further upstream to get into some really quiet country. Depending how far you venture upstream you are likely to encounter some aggressive mangrove jack that have never seen a lure before and, just a 1km or so further to the limits of the tide, wild Australian bass in the freshwater.

While I loaded the boat onto the trailer at the single lane boat ramp after a few hours of fishing I hear the familiar “How’d ya go, mate?”

To which I reply “Not much around today, but I think I might have seen a croc up such and such creek, might need to steer clear.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard that a few times now…”

1

The author tries to access the less fished areas in the kayak. This lets him explore some of the skinnier areas that even the smallest of tinnies can’t get to.

2

The feeder creeks can be home to a variety of species, such feisty bream.

7

The Straits are a boaties haven, as you are able to access a plethora of open water, small islands, bays, inlets, sand flats and creeks.

5

The authors favourite type of fishing at the Straits is from a kayak.

10

Nothing beats being on the water and spotting a decent piece of structure.

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