Potential after the deluge
  |  First Published: April 2013

As with most places in South East Queensland, Teewah Beach has suffered from the consistently poor weather over the past two months. While this has been inconvenient and doesn’t allow for much fishing to be done, angling prospects for when the weather does settle down, potentially look quite promising.

Teewah locals have for many years been waiting for a good weather system to come along and take some sand off the beach. Since the mid 1970s, sand has been steadily accumulating, which doesn’t allow for deep holes and gutters to form or for there to be submerged coffee rock in these gutters. As we all know, structure is desirable habitat for fish and coffee rock in decent surf gutters provides the most likely location to find good catches.

Rock patches in front and south of Teewah have become quite exposed and as weather conditions settle down, gutters and holes will form in front of these. Ideally, fishable conditions will arrive sooner rather than later so that opportunities for a wider diversity of fish taken from the beach in autumn can be targeted.

Bream and tarwhine have already been taken by anglers fishing when conditions have allowed. Historically, March, April and May are the months when bream are taken in large numbers and size by recreational anglers, especially following a boisterous wet season. With the presence of rocky and good gutters, there is every reason to expect that this autumn could provide the best bream and tarwhine fishing in many years. Eugaries and worms may not be plentiful depending on weather, but should there be more rain and swells, then mullet gut and flesh could well be the bait that works best in less than clear water.

Other bread and butter species like dart, whiting and flathead will all be available as the sediments drop out of the surf and the water clears. Rocks aren’t a particularly important drawcard for these species as they are for bream and tarwhine. Although dart, whiting and flathead are often taken from around rocks, it would be preferable to target them away from the rocks so as not to be losing tackle. There should be ample gutters to choose from that have suitable water for each species, such as shallow gutters close to the beach for whiting and flathead and deeper, slightly further out from the beach gutters for dart.

Rocky holes and gutters are exactly what are required for successful spinning of metal lures for tailor, trevally, mackerel and queenfish. In the past, following floods and large ocean swells, these species have turned up in numbers to be taken by spinning over rocks in a decent depth of water. Schools of these fish, as well as mac and longtail tuna, can also at times be seen feeding within casting range from the shore and metal lures are very effective in these situations. March, April and May have really turned it on over the years for these species following a wetter than normal wet season.

Although it doesn’t appear that there aren’t too many tailor swimming around anymore, if we are to find any, it will be in the next two months. Bait fishing for tailor seems to be less effective than metals in autumn than in winter and spring, which is probably due to tailor mainly targeting anchovy and sardine in autumn and being mostly focused on food rather than spawning. Using metals has also the added bonus of being the only realistic method of targeting mackerel, tuna, trevally and queenfish.

There is of course a down side to the beaches being more eroded; difficulty in navigating the exposed rocks on the beach when travelling. To date the rocks haven’t been overly difficult to negotiate at low tide, but there has been occasions when swell and foam accumulating around the rocks have made beach travel treacherous even at dead low. An hour either side and it could be said that it is impossible to get through at all.

It was widely reported in the media that Teewah Beach had been closed to all traffic other than residents due to the safety hazard that the rocks present. This wasn’t actually the case as Queensland Parks and Wildlife don’t have the authority to close the beach. At this point, QPWS are issuing vehicle and camping permits and unless the Police deem the beach to be too dangerous, then Teewah Beach at Easter should be open to all.

This is, of course, good news for those wanting to be here at Easter, but it is easy to foresee that some holiday-makers will come to grief. It’s inevitable that vehicles will get wedged on rocks, be swamped by waves while trying to go between the rocks and the surf or will simply not see the rocks at night and, as has occurred often over the years, run into them at speed. There is currently one crippled looking vehicle that has been left in Teewah whose driver didn’t see the rocks at night and who now has to deal with a costly and logistically difficult recovery exercise.

I can recall scores of situations of people being in difficult situations when the beach rocks are exposed. I nearly became one such casualty when beach foam completely covered the rocks making it impossible to distinguish an appropriate path over them. I made it through, but others haven’t. Drivers who are inexperienced in an offroad vehicle or are driving a low clearance AWD vehicle are advised to take particular care as things can turn nasty very quickly.

The erosion that has occurred on Teewah Beach is certainly not a new phenomenon. My earliest recollections from 1971 and photos of the time are of a beach with no fore dunes whatsoever and the surf pushing up to the dune proper. A sequence of cyclones in the late 1960s and early 70s had severely eroded the beach and made holidays to Teewah a major difficulty. Since then, the fore dunes have steadily built up and are well grassed with casuarinas growing in them. Currently there are still at least 10m of fore dune in most places despite any number of erosion events, like this year. The sand will replenish over winter and spring and we’ll all be wondering what the fuss was about.

The fore dunes on Teewah Beach have steadily built up over time and are well grassed. Compare the difference from a recent photo to one taken back in the 1970s; the dune right of the first photo is the same one shown in the background of the old photo.
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