74 islands
  |  First Published: July 2006

74 islands make up the Whitsundays. Every island is different; every experience is stunning. The Whitsundays are an amazing place to fish.

Many different styles of fishing can be enjoyed in the Whitsundays from sight-fishing the shallow, sandy bays to casting at big pelagics smashing bait on the surface. Finding the fish first and knowing where they are is a useful tool to have for experiencing fun sessions.

Try targeting a fish. What fish would you love to catch? Picking a target species is much more rewarding than fishing for whatever comes along. You can have much more fun if you target a particular species. Doing this isn’t hard, but you do need to be thinking and observing while you are fishing.

Thinking and observing can teach you a lot about fishing and it can help you catch much more fish. Quiet days can be instantly improved and great days can be turned into incredible sessions. In the Whitsundays, thinking anglers can reap rewards. The following is a guide for catching fish while observing and thinking.

The Incoming tide

During the incoming tide in the Whitsundays, many fish species move into the shallows to hunt. Big pelagic fish such as queenfish and trevally are attracted to the shallows by large amounts of baitfish. Smaller species like flathead also enter the shallows on an incoming tide to ambush baitfish and crustaceans.

Wading the shallow shores of sandy bays can create spectacular fishing on the incoming tide. Targeting flathead around the shallow areas of the Whitsundays is a great option because you can find them everywhere! The shallow shores opposite Shute Harbour, the sandy bays surrounding Dingo Beach and the large flat of Windy Bay are great areas to search for these amazing fish.

The Outgoing tide

The outgoing tide generally pushes fish off the shallows and out towards structure such as rocky points, drop-offs and scattered reef. Baitfish schools like mullet and hardiheads move out with the tide, but will cruise around the edges of submerged rocks and reef. If you locate a school of baitfish, flick a Squidgy Flick Bait near the edge of the school and to any structure nearby. Twitch, twitch and twitch it again! Fish love that injured baitfish look that these soft plastics resemble.

Using a boat for this style of fishing is an extra bonus, as you can access showering bait schools in deeper water. If you see these showering schools of baitfish, approach with stealth and stop upwind of the area. It is hard to tell what species is actually causing the disturbance as queenfish, golden trevally, giant trevally, mackerel and tuna are all likely candidates. Matching the baitfish shape is important in this situation. The flashes of a fast retrieved metal slice such as a Raider or Maniac are hard to resist to a big pelagic. Let your lure flutter underneath the school if the predators aren’t chasing on the surface. Jig erratically to create a lot of interest.

Flathead are fun to catch on the outgoing tide. Baitfish and crustaceans moving off the flats are their common targets. Flathead congregate around the drop-offs and take up ambush points as the tide continues to drop. Concentrate on these areas while casting soft plastics. The Squidgy Fish is a great lure for these feisty fish. The drop-offs around the sandy bays near Dingo Beach and Gloucester Island hold huge numbers of big flathead. These big fish can sometimes resemble a shovelnose shark in shallow water as they kick up the sand trying to shake the hooks out. Put pressure on these fish and pull them up the beach fast.

Flathead are just one fish you can target in the Whitsundays while thinking and observing. There are many more! Always remember to check the GBRMPA zoning charts for locating fishing areas. If you are visiting the Whitsundays, explore the area and try new styles of fishing – rewards will be all yours!

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