Marching back to basics
  |  First Published: March 2008

There is still plenty of dirty weather right along the eastern seaboard, which has done nothing to encourage anglers onto the water. Most estuaries are looking more like hot chocolate than water, particularly during the run-out phase.

During these tough times it is often a good move to get back to the basics of fishing. It’s not all about thumping bass and huge barra.

The absolute basic, where almost everyone kicks off, is bread-and-butter bait fishing.


Bait fishing is a family exercise and the kids love it, particularly if there is something worthwhile to photograph at the end of the day. Even more so if their efforts result in a feed of fresh fish or crab.

The vast Noosa River system is a great place for holiday fishing fun, as seen by the plethora of boats on the water during the recent Christmas and Australia Day break. I don’t know how many fish were caught – but that is a secondary consideration when going back to basics.


Finding a suitable location to try your luck isn’t too difficult. Consult the experts in a local tackle store or a hire boat place. It is in their interests to supply you with some equipment and good advice – so try and follow their instructions.

There are plenty of shore-based options along Gympie Terrace for those that aren’t into boating. This option is a beauty for those that like to have a barbie and play a bit of cricket whilst the kids catch dinner!

For water lovers, the Frying Pan is a great option and Weyba Creek is close enough for some serious exploration. There is enough sand banks, gutters and islands in the Weyba system to keep any level of angler or explorer busy for days.


Generally speaking, a cast net and a yabby pump are good tools and a great fun way to start the adventure. Kids love watching the cast net thrown and wait expectantly as the results produce shrieks of laughter and lots of fun, not to mention quality live bait.

If this is not to your liking then a packet of frozen prawns wont break the budget and will do the job.

A simple and very inexpensive handline is also a good starting point. Feeling those bites from hungry whiting, bream or flathead is a very exciting occurrence for youngsters and a basic handline can enhance this experience. I have many happy memories of catching fish on handlines as a kid myself!


Drifting is also a good way to prospect for a feed. A drift with the run-out tide is a good option if your adventure happens to coincide with this tidal phase.

A live herring or poddy mullet will rarely go untouched if there are a few glutinous flathead about. If you don’t have any live bait, then frogmouth pilchards are a great alternative.


Fishing at anchor can be rather dull and colourless, however if you happen to find a school of bream willing to cooperate it can be a memorable event.

Once bream are in the mood, the fishing can be quite chaotic, especially with a few kids on board. This is an ideal time to instil those lifelong attitudes that kids learn quickly and easily; catch and release, safe and careful fish handling practices and, of course, safe boating are all fun lessons to be learnt along the way.

Other fish that may be encountered during these relaxed family outings are tarwhine, trevally and a host of unwanted species such as happy moments, catfish, rays, shovel nose rays and sharks. These must also be handled with care to avoid injury. When in doubt simply cut the line and allow the fish to swim away. In most cases the hook will be discarded quickly and no great harm will come to your catch and release specimen.


Fishing off the rocks along the National Park is great fun. However, great care must be taken in these environments, particularly with your younger fishing companions.

Besides catching a few fish, which may include tailor and dart, the kids will enjoy exploring rock pools, chasing crabs and learning plenty along the way.

Handline fishing off the rocks would be difficult, so a basic and capable rod and reel outfit would be a good investment. Like anything, you get what you pay for so, if this style of fishing might become a regular activity, shell out a bit more for gear that will last longer and provide years of frustration free fishing if well looked after.

Reel maintenance is simple and really only involves a good rinse with fresh water and perhaps a light spray of water dispersant.

Lure angling

The next level of fishing would be basic lure angling. Trolling is easy and can be good fun, particularly if you can produce a few fish for the crew to wind in.

Small minnow type lures are best for fishing on the troll and your helpful tackle store staff will be able to advise on what seems to be working and where. Aimlessly wandering the waterways towing lures may produce a fish or two, however a few tactics and some planning can change your results dramatically.

Trolling along drop-offs, with the current on a run-out tide, is a good place to start. There are plenty of such areas in the lower reaches of the river proper and also up in Weyba Creek.

Flathead are a very good trolling target and by-catch may include tailor, trevally, bream, estuary cod and quite possibly mangrove jack.

Should you manage to catch a few fish on the troll, then one by one the kids could be invited to cast and retrieve in the same areas. However, when casting, basic safety measures should be put in place with youngsters on board. Wearing hats and sunnies and using barbless hooks can go a long way to ensuring a fun day rather than one that concludes at the nearest casualty ward.

Soft plastics and prawn imitations are good tools for cast and retrieving. Slow erratic retrieves will produce better results than cast and wind. The slower the retrieve the better, with regular contact with the bottom to alert any sleepy flathead in the area that there is an easy feed coming.

Should any of your novice anglers hook and catch a nice fish by way of cast and retrieve, I can guarantee that they will be lining up for more!

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