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Beach access improves
  |  First Published: May 2013



After a great deal of publicity prior to Easter of a severely eroded beach that would take ‘years to repair’, Teewah Beach is slowly building up with sand each day, making beach travel easier each week.

It is now possible to drive below the exposed rocks south of Teewah at low tide without having to go through more than a few centimetres of water for a few metres. The path over the rocks on higher tides is now well defined and relatively simple to negotiate.

While the potential still exists for another weather system to remove this accumulated sand before the winter westerlies settle in and accelerate the recovery, by the time June rolls around things should be almost back to normal with the rocks hardly worth noting.

The feared Easter congestion and accidents around the coffee rock patches didn’t eventuate to any serious degree, largely due to only a relatively small number of vehicles venturing into the rocky stretch from Teewah to the Third Cutting. Of those that did, however, many went home with slight alterations to running boards and guards.

All along Teewah Beach, deep holes and gutters that are easily accessible on all tides have formed, allowing easy angling for the many species that can be found here at this time of year. It would be decades since we have had such quality formations to work with and so many south of Teewah that are loaded with coffee rock.

This year’s healthy wet season, on top of the five previous above-average wet seasons, means a perfect recipe for really good autumn fishing.

Regular readers might recall that I have questioned the health of fish stocks in this region. Recreational catches have definitely declined markedly over the years and commercial catch data presents some disconcerting trends.

But some commentators believe that stocks are fine, and that a lack of holes and gutters in recent years of high sand build-up failed to attract target species into the surf where we can access them. This, they say, caused the illusion of low stocks based on recreational catches alone, which were insufficient evidence of a problem. As valid an argument as this is, it can now be tested and lately there has been no shortage of anglers doing just that.

PRIME TIME

There is no more likely time to reap the benefits of a boisterous wet season than at the point when the sediments from the flooded streams first begin to settle and the water begins to clear.

Over my lifetime this has proven to be the case each time Teewah Beach has recovered from wet-season rains or individual flooding events. Tailor, in particular, become easy targets by spinning metal lures through the coffee rock gutters and often you can see the fish.

Such conditions arrived in late March so it was with mild optimism I began spinning through the many fabulous rocky holes and gutters that all look like they should hold fish.

A hook up on a small chopper tailor on my second cast in the first gutter of choice certainly lifted my optimism and then my fishing mate hooked a smaller chopper shortly afterwards. With so much rocky water to explore, we felt that a decent and long overdue feed of tailor might be on the cards.

There’s nothing like a bit of confidence to motivate a fisher to work hard. With everything ripe for a great few days’ fishing, we certainly put in the hours and even dabbled with a bit of bait fishing for bream and tarwhine.

However, it all in vain as we didn’t locate another tailor over the next few days, and haven’t since, and the bream and tarwhine were mostly too small. Other anglers found the same thing, although they often appeared less discerning as to what was a suitably-sized fish to keep.

This disappointing trend has continued, with anglers finding only the occasional whiting of decent size and all bream, tarwhine and dart have been very small.

Some anglers putting in long hours with bait are being rewarded with a couple of small tailor.

The fish haven’t materialised as we’d hoped they would.

To see no evidence of anything like healthy fish stocks, and in a fishery that is supposedly sustainable, means the fishery is actually in a worse state than I had thought.

If anglers can’t catch a legal feed in the most productive circumstances in decades, it’s difficult to believe that anything is likely to improve while commercial fishing pressure remains the same.

AUTHOR’S OPINION: BEACH HAULERS

This month we will see the beach haulers out looking for whatever they can find. While they mostly will be focused on mullet, any species that enters the surf gutters in sufficient numbers, such as during spawning, is fair game.

My recent charting of K8 commercial yields of Teewah Beach through to northern Fraser Island indicates that species other than mullet never seem to be netted in any numbers during June or July, when the largest mullet hauls are taken.

The commercial catch data seems to reflect what recreational anglers have increasingly been finding occurs on Teewah Beach and any other location that allows beach hauling of mullet. Teewah locals would fish hard as soon as the sea allowed following the wet season, because we knew we had to make hay before the netting started in May.

We know that the first net shot, usually towards the end of May, is the first day that we don’t really have any chance of catching anything. Through June and July as the tonnes of mullet are freighted down the beach before our eyes, our buckets remain empty and we wait for September, when the seasonal mullet netting effects slowly dissipate.

Late each August, a few fish begin to be taken by recs.

The greater the number of nets shot and the greater the number of fishers shooting them, the lower the daily average catch per fisher over the period. This seems to apply to each species and the fishery as a whole.

We have known in Teewah for some years that fewer nets being shot means the greater chances of our catching fish. We are constantly trying to establish where and when the last net was shot and what was caught so we can fish as far away from it as possible. The philosophy of Teewah locals is mirrored in the commercial catch data that tells us that the nets are scaring the fish that recreational anglers target.

If you want to catch fish on Teewah Beach, get in as soon as possible after the wet and fish until the nets scare the fish away. Spend June, July and the first half of August maintaining tackle and rustproofing vehicles and prepare for some decent conditions in mid-August.

This is our lot from now on unless commercial fishing practices are altered and very soon. – Lindsay Dines

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