Fishing locations are generally considered to be the utmost guarded secret for the modern fisherman. We often hear of new exciting areas that have been virtually untouched or at least only fished by a handful of locals. Inskip Point would have to be the exact opposite to this scenario; in fact Inskip would have to be one of the most visited weekend camping/fishing areas within an easy driving distance from Brisbane.
In this article you are not going to hear me bang-on about secret spots or new locations because at Inskip they basically don’t exist. I will however outline the exceptionally good fishing that Inskip is renowned for and help you to better your catches when next in the area.
All forms of fishing can be catered for at Inskip Point. Anglers can fish the flats from shore or by boat, offshore reef and gamefishing, trolling, jigging, bottom bashing or spinning, fly-fishing for pelagic or bread and butter species, drifting with the current chasing anything from flathead to mackerel, beach fishing and estuary fishing. The biggest problem posed for visitors to the area is that so much tackle and equipment has to be packed to cater for all options. At least that is my biggest problem!
My suggestion is to take everything, especially for beach and estuary fishing, as you never quite know what will be biting during your stay. Boats are probably the best way to really discover the better fishing opportunities. Launching your boat can be done with a conventional 2WD car or off the beach by a 4WD. I took my boat along for our recent family trip to Inskip Point and found the offshore reef fishing to be really easy and good fun.
The first and major drawcard to the area is the channel that runs between Inskip and Hook Point at the southern tip of Fraser Island. The sheer volume of water that passes through this channel creates a natural fish attractor. All manner of species have been caught while beach fishing along the deep-water drop-off. Currents can be in excess of 3-knots as they race through and stir up the sand creating holes and gutters. This is virtually a feeding heaven for whiting, dart, flathead and bream as they work in schools along the entire stretch of beach feeding on worms and molluscs that become exposed from the rapid water movement.
Collecting local fresh bait to target these species is made easy, there is a surf beach around the corner that is alive with pipis and beach worms. A cast net is also worthwhile including in your gear as schools of small hardiheads and white pillies hold in tight to the edge of the beach.
New generation soft plastics can be used here also to great success. Gulp Clams, Gulp Crabs and Gulp Beach Worms are a lot easier to carry than bait and are not as messy. Use the plastics exactly as you would bait, slowly work the artificial along the bottom as if it were actually alive. You will be pleasantly surprised with your results and a single plastic can last for several hours in a single beach fishing session without getting ripped to pieces as bait would. The better colours are the more natural, new penny or bloodworm.
Rig your lines with a common ball sinker or bean sinker depending on how strong the current is. The bean will move slower across the bottom in a strong current. Attach at least 400mm of light fluorocarbon leader and small chemically sharpened long shank hook about a size 10 or 12. If using a Gulp beachworm half, thread the hook right down the plastic to a bit past halfway, then slide the rest of the worm up the leader so it is straight and natural looking. For a whole worm try and snell a second hook about 50mm above the first, thread as with the half worm but then attach the second hook at the head of the artificial. When casting out the offering, it is not necessary to launch it miles out into the blue. Most of the action will actually be happening where the shallow water drops off to the deep, about 5-10m out.
Move along the beach with the current working the drop-off until you find where the fish are biting, then continue to work the same area until you have caught a few. Fish will tend to hold in one particular spot along this area as the strong current creates small eddies which make it easier for the fish to hold position against the strong current flow, letting the food to come to them. A good catch is relatively simple to obtain using this method.
This same stretch of beach is also a great spot to target bigger predatory species like shark, tuna, tailor, mackerel, trevally, jewfish and even at certain times of the year snapper. Using spin gear is probably the easiest method to fishing in such rapid water movement. Tailor and school mackerel respond really well to small chrome slices pelted as far as possible and retrieved back at speed. Slower ‘wobble’ type spoons are also a good inclusion if spinning is your method. Cast the lure up current so that it is back level with your position on the beach, this makes repeated casting less stressful on the body. Pulling fish against the current should be the only hard part, not retrieve after retrieve.
Using live baits will always create excitement in the camp and whiting are the prime live bait here. If you are favoured by southerly winds use balloons to hold against the tide. Braided line will lessen the drag from the tide and help to get the rig further out. Also add a small amount of weight to the dropper to assist your live bait from spinning; this helps keep it alive longer.
I have sounded along this ledge in my boat about 30m from the beach and the bottom structure is quite impressive. The sand dips into deep washouts with scattered areas of coffee rock and shale, in some places it drops to a depth of 50ft in the old scale. Meritorious catches are possible anywhere along here and any surprise species are likely to be caught.
Northern longtail tuna frequent the passage and fish to 30kg can be busting schools of baitfish only 5m from the beach as we witnessed on our last trip to the Point. Landing fish like this from the beach really does require a lot of skill and a lot of luck. When they get side-on to the current turning them is a challenge if you don’t run out of line. During the start of winter mackerel can school up as they prey on small hardiheads. Their presence in the area is usually obvious as they zip along the surface of the water; these smaller fish are a less formidable task to seize. Use handfuls of berley from the beach and cast out a dropper rig with small 3x1/0 or 2/0 ganged hooks. Two droppers with a heaver sinker at the bottom makes holding ground easier and reduces tangles and twists.
Besides the most obvious locations to fish from the shore there is fantastic fishing by boat in the channel and further out offshore. Most of the fishing through the channel can be comfortably fished from out of the humble tinny. On really good days, weather and swell permitting, these tinny’s can also head further out over the bar and offshore to some of the inside reef systems 10km from the point. Keep a good eye on the weather if attempting to head out offshore in smaller craft, the bar may well be flat on the trip out but can turn nasty on the return.
The actual bar crossing is several kilometres long and can toss up trouble for the unwary boater. Larger craft over 5m will be able to get out in most conditions. Right throughout the channel and into the estuarine systems chasing surface pelagic can be a simple task; due to the high volume of water movement baitfish schools are abundant.
When the tide begins to flow, bait schools will lift from the bottom and aggregate on the surface to feed on the algae and organisms that are stirred up. The chain reaction then leads to boiling tuna and mackerel crashing through the bait. Chasing these fish can sometimes be fruitless due to the sheer depth of water; the fish will usually dive on the approach of boats under motor. Sitting back and studying the movement of the schools will help you to predict if the fish are likely to move.
Is this easier said than done? Not really. You only have to get casting distance away. I noticed that the schools were working along the shoreline about 15m out at the southern beach of Fraser Island. Basically sitting this far out from the shore and drifting with the current had schools and schools of tuna and mackerel swimming right past the boat. Throw plastics, spinners and fly’s at the fish with different retrieves until you find the one that works. I found that letting the plastics sink to the bottom and retrieving lures at an average speed got the required attention. I used Berkley Gulp Craws in cammo to good success.
Moving around chasing schools of pelagic fish is a great way to discover new ground. The whole width of the channel has patches of reef and rubble that can be hard to find due to the distortion from the current upwellings. Best bet is to try any sounder shows that look like reef because chances are that is where the fish are holding-up. I will outline a few good areas to try inside the channel with the use of a map (see diagram).
Offshore the fishing steps up a notch with target species being far too many to mention in this article. However main species are jew, pearl perch, snapper, trag, coral trout, red emperor and pelagics like amberjack, mackerel and GT’s. Most of the reef systems begin in 36m or about 120ft in the old scale. Normal reef fishing techniques work here and this is a no-brainer for offshore fishers, so I won’t delve into that subject too much. We did however have a good deal of success using soft plastics bounced across the bottom. Ecogear PowerWorm 5.5” Minnow in silk pink glow vertically jigged as the boat drifted over the reef lead to countless bust-ups as some of the fish were unstoppable and our bait caster gear was under gunned for the situation. A few nice school mackerel were subsequently caught from jigging the bottom.
Some good GPS coordinates for the offshore reefs are 25 48’360”S, 153 07’420”E and about 14km E/NE from Inskip Point. These reefs are long but not very wide systems that can make anchoring difficult and is possibly the reason they fish so well.
The reef is alive with bait schools and plenty of 6m high pinnacles and bommies. Drifting is the best way to really get an idea of the reef layout and also find where the fish are holding. As with fishing the rest of this area expect the unexpected and be prepared to hook into fish that only want to go in one direction.
Camping at Inskip is one of the reasons why so many holidaymakers flock to the area as the camping facilities accommodate all types of campers. Cars, 4WD, motorbikes, campervans and caravans are all welcome to the Inskip Point camping area. Open campfires are permitted as well as your canine friends. Although collecting firewood is strictly prohibited and carries heavy fines for those who don’t do the right thing.
Camp sites are made up of several separate areas with varying degrees of access and facilities. S.S. Dorrigo, M.V. Natone, M.V. Beagle and M.V. Sarawak all have amenity blocks and waste facilities. Long drops or chemical toilets are also permitted through the park as long as they are placed appropriately and not near other campers. Water filling facilities are on the road near the start of the first camping grounds. Any other last minute items can also be purchased from nearby township of Rainbow Beach.
Visitors to the area don’t even have to worry about meals as Rainbow Beach is only 15 minutes away from most campsites. Keeping the beer cold is also catered for with regular ice truck visits 2-3 times a day so make sure you have plenty of loose change when you visit. About the only advice I can give is to take a large ground sheet, the sand over the years has turned a shade of gray from all of the campfires from years gone past and black feet are a result. I hate sleeping with dirty feet so I always wear shoes and socks to combat this. Also expect to be camping at close quarters with other families, as I said earlier this place is no secret.
Believe me, the fishing at Inskip Point really is worth experiencing and every South East Queenslander should visit the area as it has more to offer than just catching fish alone. For more information on camping at Inskip Point visit www.epa.qld.com.au or call 13 13 04.
Offshore GPS Coordinates
|35m, Reef bottom. E/NE of Inskip Point||25 48’365”S||153 07’415”E|
|25-40m, Reef bottom. North of Double Island Point||25 52’000”S||153 15’015”E|
|20m, Reef/Coffee rock bottom. Double Island Point||25 24’480”S||153 05’733”E|