Christmas beach tolls for tourists
  |  First Published: December 2007

Life on Teewah Beach has been a real mixed bag of late with floods in August, bushfires in October and persistent algal blooms throughout. This has resulted in particularly good fishing followed by disastrously bad fishing.

The good fishing and the algal blooms can be directly attributed to the floods, which would normally be an unexpected bonus for this time of year. Rain of any volume these days is obviously welcomed, but to receive over a metre of rain in two nights mid year was most unusual.

Over the past 35 years, the tailor have headed to the river mouth to feed on gar, whiting, prawns and mullet that are flushed out of the river during a flood. Even though flathead were abundant, the trevally fired inside the mouth and the bream were there every day during the fresh. However, there was surprisingly no tailor strikes.

The windows of opportunity to catch fish of late have been limited to when the water is clear. During two of these windows in September and early October with freshly created gutters all along the beach, catches of bream in particular along with snodger whiting, dart, tarwhine, bonefish, flathead and some tailor were like days of old.

Despite the baitfish being abundant and visible, tailor were spooking like I have never struck before and to pull more than a couple out of the same gutter in a session was unheard of. Tailor on a few occasions would be visible feeding on the baitfish until a cast lure hooked up on one, then the rest of the school would disappear. 'Learned predatory response' is the term used for fish that learn from previous experience and have adapted and that is precisely what the tailor are doing and have done for many years now.

Traditionally December is a very good time of year for whiting, dart, tarwhine, the odd bream and flathead, the first of the southbound greenback tailor and potentially early season snub-nosed dart. Spotted, Spanish and school mackerel along with mac, longtail and yellowfin tuna usually start to make appearances during the month.

Netting for tailor has generally finished for the year which means that surf species will start to return and the mackerel and tuna should be unaffected by previous beach netting. Inskip and Hook Points and Rainbow Bay are the most likely places to be able to target the mackerel and tuna at this time of year from the shore, along with big golden trevally on livies near the barge take off point.

Beach traffic however does not enhance surf catches, so from Boxing Day until the end of the holidays can be difficult along Teewah Beach. Fishing at night during this period could be a little more productive for the likes of tailor, bream and jew and first light before the traffic starts for tailor, bream, tarwhine, dart and whiting.

Double Island Point headland provides a traffic free area to fish at any time and being able to drive around to the rocks on the northern side from the Leisha Track certainly makes it fairly accessible as well.

Rainbow Beach is only accessible at low tide from either end with trees blocking the beach near the Leisha Track and Carlo Rocks a perennial obstacle in front of Rainbow Beach township. For those prepared to lock them-selves in along this stretch of beach for a tide, the lack of traffic is bound to be of great assistance. Bream, whiting, dart, flathead and tarwhine can be targeted using pippi and worm baits or plastics with the various patches of exposed coffee rock being the locations of choice.

Pippis and worms are scarce along Rainbow and would need to be taken from Teewah Beach with the northern end of the beach the only real place to find pippis at the moment. The southern end has been devoid of pippis for some time now and the general consensus is that people collect their pippis along this stretch when they first arrive onto the beach, placing greater pressure on populations here.

The same patches of rock along Rainbow can produce tailor, mackerel, queenfish and trevally on quickly retrieved metal lures. Sight fishing for these same species feeding on baitfish can also be very effective with first light being the optimum time and metals by far the best method.

For those that are camping along the Cooloola section of Teewah Beach, expect things to be once again extremely busy. The promised restrictions on camping numbers have not been implemented and the vehicle permit system that we were first promised in 1989 seems to have been forgotten again. And despite all the talk about providing toilet facilities by Cooloola Shire Council after the publicity from Easter incidents, this also seems to have been just talk.

Something that I discovered last week that I hadn't previously been aware of, is that the camping permits are only valid until 11am of the day of departure. To me this seems very inconsiderate as campers are forced to pack up and depart much earlier than they otherwise would. Weekenders are losing a fair proportion of the weekend and it is also encouraging high tide travel when it falls around this time. Given what has occurred at Moreton Island regarding high tide travel, this does seem inappropriate. I've been wondering for months why there are so many vehicles and many towing trailers, driving past Teewah on their way to the ferry on lunchtime high tides and now I know why.

Boxing Day, which is naturally when the majority of people will head up the beach, has a 2.1m high tide at 9.45am. This will cause a chaotic race to beat the tide and I would thoroughly recommend avoiding it. Of course, to delay ones arrival means missing out on a suitable campsite, so an early arrival would be the way to go. The Noosa River Ferry will be opened at the conventional time of 5.30am on Boxing Day but expect there to be a line up even at that time.

The first cutting onto the beach from the ferry currently has vehicles bogged every day due to dry conditions, poor gear selection and fully inflated tyres. With the traffic that will be using this cutting, it is likely to be a problem at Christmas as well.

Many people seem to be of the belief that 1st gear low range is best suited to cross these cuttings. This is simply not the case and especially with the horsepower that most vehicles have these days. Momentum is very important and low range doesn't allow for any. All that occurs is rapid wheel spin that causes the vehicle to dig down into the soft sand until it’s sitting on the differentials and a tow out becomes the only option.

Families with young children should take particular care this Christmas. Positioning your vehicle on the beach so that there is an obvious and clear path for the traffic to take would be wise. Consider where other people are positioned nearby and park on the same level of the beach as them so that there is an obvious path. Right at the back of the beach or right on the waters edge are the best and safest locations.

Avoid a gap between you and the water that vehicles could potentially take, as it creates a very dangerous situation. Many people attempt to slow down the traffic by digging trenches in the sand. This is also very dangerous as vehicles can easily lose control after hitting these trenches. And as much as I know how kids love to dig holes and build sand castles, this can also cause vehicles to veer off the track. Please fill in these holes and flatten sand castles when you leave as I've seen so many near misses as a result of these excavations.

Be aware that there is a reckless element amongst the people that come onto this beach with 'doughnuts' now seemingly a fashionable thing to do and their choice of locations tends not to be well thought out. I saw two vehicles roll over last weekend while doing doughnuts and it is now a weekly event.

Alcohol, despite the police presence, is always a factor with some drivers and the potential for disaster is high. There are many distractions for drivers on the beach and do not assume that their focus is on where they are driving. Here's hoping for a happy and incident free Christmas for all.

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