Dave Donald Sportfishing has been a guiding institution in tropical Queensland for over 20 years with Dave Donald the first celebrity guide on the block in a lot of ways. His guiding business went from strength to strength and grew to include three contracted guides and Dave who all took anglers on their dream trip out from Weipa.
Recently Dave sold the business as it was time for him to retire but luckily, the team was not broken up and Dave Donald Sportfishing lives on with Josh Lyon heading up the team and being on-ground manager of operations in Weipa. Many would know I’ve been a mate of Josh’s since Dave introduced us over four years ago. He’s one a nice fella and has lived and breathed fishing since he could walk, a result of his father’s influence as the family roamed the Cape in search of crocodiles and fish.
A day out with Josh or one of the other guides Dan or Shane will see you offered just about any piscatorial bent you can imagine. From flyfishing for tuna and mackerel, to bottom bashing for fingermark and black jew, from live baiting for threadfin salmon to sight casting the beaches for barra and salmon; there is not much you can’t do with Dave Donald Sportfishing.
On my recent trip to catch up with Josh and check out how the business was going post-Dave I found everything had progressed nicely and with the addition of the 6.8m Hooker Humping Dog to the team of boats the options for anglers are now broader than ever before.
We wanted to catch a barra or two, hit some reefs and tangle with some fingermark and jew, cruise the beaches and headlands for barra and salmon as well as track down a jack or two. Of course there was always the possibility of tuna and trevally along the way wherever a bait ball was being obliterated.
After a week with Josh I can say we had the best fishing I have ever had in Weipa, but we missed out on my favourite fish, the mighty mangrove jack. Mind you it wasn’t because we couldn’t have caught one, it was because we never actually cast a lure or fly in anger at one.
Within 48 hours of landing in Weipa, our group of three anglers and Josh had landed almost every species we wanted and there were some scary numbers and sizes of fish being racked up on lures, starting with some sensational fishing under the Mission River bridge at night from the shore. The barra were thick and there were some good fish there too, the biggest measured a massive 115cm. The main run of fish was much smaller at about 50cm, but it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours in the evening.
On the reefs the fish were just on. I have no other way of describing how active the fish were and I wouldn’t assume they will ever be that active again in my lifetime. But you take what you get and I’ll assume Josh knew where the best reefs were and what we should do to get the fish from them.
Our main tactic on the reef was to drop jighead rigged plastics down to the reef and fish. We tried out some of the Berkley 7” Gulp Minnows and found the tropical fish just loved them. Cod, fingermark, black jew, trevally and cobia all loved them as the lures drifted down to the reef or were hopped them over the reef. Colour didn’t matter at all, but location on the reef really did. The main body of fish were holding on the front edge of the reefs, the edge the current was blasting into. Here the black jew and biggest fingermark were found and as you progressed over the reef the fingermark got smaller, the black jew disappeared and the cod got more involved.
As for the trevally – well they were everywhere. We even went popper fishing for them in 40ft of water with no reef anywhere near us. Josh found this patch of fish while one of us was tangling with a 20kg giant trevally and studiously popped a mark on the GPS. The school of fish almost blacked out the sounder and with no reef around it allowed Adam Royter to claim the fish of the trip, a sensational 30kg+ GT taken on 10lb Fireline on a 4kg Berkley Tactic rod. Between you and me we did let Adam know he was wasting our valuable fishing time after the fight dragged into the second hour!
Later in the week we fished the beaches and rocks for barra and threadfin salmon south of Weipa with hard-bodied lures. And the barra were there waiting for us. With lures like gold Bombers, Leads Hijackers and Ecogear Barra Specials being cast and retrieved the action was hot to trot.
We only got one real shot at a good threadfin and stuffed that up losing the metre plus fish on its second run, but you can’t win them all.
So I will admit that for some reason the fish were very, very keen on anything we threw at them, but Josh knew just where to go. And some of the reefs and beaches took almost two hours to get to, so the value of a guide who knows where the fish are is clearly evident. Most guides wouldn’t travel that far for the simple reason it would cost too much, but with Dave Donald Sportfishing they do go the extra yard to put you where the best fish are.
We fished in November, but I’ve also fished with Dave and Josh in April and May previously and the action is awesome. Don’t be the one to miss out on the best fishing you’re likely to find in Queensland. Get onto Josh and book him or his guides for a few days or more. If you’re a keen angler you’ll never regret it.
Trip lengths are negotiable however a standard week long trip of 7 days, 6 nights, 5 days fishing package with Dave Donald Sportfishing in Weipa starts at $1850pp. The price includes 6 nights accommodation, all breakfasts, lunches on fishing days and all transfers to and from accommodation once landed in Weipa. Tackle is supplied on a replace if lost/damaged basis but you are welcome to bring your own as most keen anglers do.