Destination Weipa – FIFO camping on the cape
  |  First Published: July 2015

There’s fly in/fly out (FIFO) employment, so why not fly in/fly out fishing?

The indisputable highlight of any year’s fishing for the Kampes, is a trip to Weipa on Cape York. I love the isolation of some of far flung fishing areas, the sense of grand adventure, and of course I really love the fishing that’s on offer. Queenies, barra, jacks, giant herring, trevally, tarpon. I love ‘em all.

The last couple of years has seen us hooking up the 4.3m Bullshark and E-Tec onto the back of the car and drive the 2600 odd kilometres to Weipa. This winter, however, we opted for a ten day FIFO trip, hiring a 4x4 at Weipa, and relying on the gear we took on the plane, and a bit of innovation, for things to work. Which they did.

Plane fares and car hire are nothing more than a click of a key pad these days: sorting out the right gear for the job requires a bit more thought, and keeping it simple and sticking to a system is the way to go.

baggage requirements

Along with my take-aboard back pack loaded with my camera and some extra clothing in it, I rely on a cricket bag plus an esky for transportation of camping and fishing gear. The esky requires an additional baggage allowance, which is easily arranged. Bulky but softer items plus rod tubes go in the cricket bag, most fishing gear, sharps and the like go in the esky. That’s the easy bit of the plan, then comes the selection of the right amount of ‘gear’ for the job.

Quick camping the Kampey way.

Warning! I tend to be a bit basic in my outlook here, tending to trade convenience over comfort so you might like to do things differently. But don’t forget: baggage allowance if exceeded is mighty expensive. A light-weight two person dome tent was first, along with it’s fly. A handy hint, make sure the chosen tent has plenty of air flow to allow a cool breeze to circulate at night. In the north it can still be 23 degrees at 9 at night, so airflow is essential for a comfortable night’s sleep. A roll out self-inflating mattress was also in the cricket bag along with a light fly over for some shade. I also threw in cheap cloths line to secure the fly to.

Next was a portable (roll out) camping table that suited well for a couple to enjoy a feed while seated on the esky. I have lightweight cutlery for these trips, a frying pan with folding handle and a Trangia cooker and utensils kit for a cook up and cuppa. Also in the cricket bag were twin rod tubes, with a Korr light bar and fly rod in one, and a four piece Daiwa rod in the other, plus leader material, gloves, and other fishing kit that can be easily stored. Clothing also went into the bag along with footwear and a couple of Adapt A Caps. Long clothing after dark is essential as the mozzies up in The Cape are merciless.

Light up the night

To minimize insect attacks I relied on Korr Lighting’s 50cm long white or orange LED light bar. We definitely noticed a reduction in these pests when using the orange mode with its 490 lumens output via the unit’s dedicated dimmer. Note there is also 690 lumens available in white light mode, and a 3m cord makes usage easy via a standard vehicle in- dash plug. I also packed a Korr LED KT6 rechargeable torch with a 520 lumens output for night use if necessary. The torch is also vehicle rechargeable and comes with a belt pouch, a nifty innovation indeed.

Once you touch down in Weipa and have collected your bags and hire car the first port of call is the grocery store in town to pick up food supplies, and a couple of cardboard boxes to house the contents of the esky once you put your food and drinks in there. A camping come tackle store and news agency is located next to Woolworths in the shopping mall at Weipa, and are both worthy places to visit before hitting the road out of town. As an aside it’s not a bad idea to spend the first night at the Weipa Caravan Park, next to the town shopping centre, and then head out from there to enjoy the area’s fishing.

Tackle talk

At home, I always seem to pack my fishing equipment first. An admitted fly fishing tragic, along with our four piece TFO Mangrove fly rod and TFO 375 fly reel I also packed a Daiwa four piece threadline outfit. I did this on my last trip to ensure we secured a fish for dinner. My chosen outfit was a 4-7kg, four-piece Daiwa Black Sniper 703MHFS rod teamed with a Daiwa Ballistic 3000H reel loaded with 20lb braid. This combo saw some serious action at times scoring big queenies and both barra and jacks. Flyfishing is good fun, but sometimes one needs to fish well past fly casting range.

One memorable scenario went something like this. We’d had curried queenfish for dinner the past two nights. We weren’t queen-fished out, but close to it. Sure enough there were queenies right along the shore line again and within easy fly range, but a set of rocks around forty metres out had some interesting looking swirls, interspersed with the odd boof, around the outskirts. A Maria 11gram jerkbait went onto the Ballistic 3000’s leader and two casts later it was barra for dinner. Beauty!

In all, the minimal amount of tackle and gear we carried certainly worked for us, so if you are contemplating a trip to Weipa and are somewhat time poor give a bit of thought to a FIFO trip. If anything it’ll make for a great experience. Remember that entering some areas requires a permit, pack plenty of sun smart clothes and sunscreen, and don’t forget the repellent for the insects. I’ll have more on the finer points of a trip next month.

Reads: 1975

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