A recent Creek to Coast trip saw Gary Howard and I fish some relatively unchartered waters, for us, near Bundaberg. It was supposed to be a comprehensive study of the beach, estuary and offshore fishing potential of this part of Queensland, but after spending four days wetting a line there, we both agree that we haven’t come close to experiencing it all. Bundaberg is a dream come true for anglers.
To fish the beach, we set up a camp under the casuarinas on the dunes at beautiful Kinkuna. It’s the northern and pretty much undisturbed section of Burrum Coast National Park, about 23km south of Bundy.
The beach here reminded Gary of the western beach of Fraser Island but I would compare it to Bribie Island’s surfside. We met a couple of other families of campers but had most of the good gutters to ourselves.
We loaded up an Alvey reel one afternoon with some fresh worms and landed enough whiting for dinner. The rig was a basic one and similar to what you would use when fishing any of the east coast spots: light 4kg monofilament, a no 2 or 3 running ball sinker onto a swivel with around 50cm of trace and a two hook rig with Gary’s favoured red plastic tubing sitting above the bottom long shank hook (and it worked, it’s magic). The whiting were feeding aggressively on the making tide with most fish smashing the worms. Apart from the whiting, on the right day you could catch dart, bream, flathead, tailor and the odd trevally.
A change of scenery and Gary and I took to a 455 Territory provided by Bundaberg’s Sea Jay Boats for some estuary fishing with Moore Park local Bill Morcus. Bill moved up to the Bundaberg beachside ‘suburb’ for the fishing after spending many years chasing catches at the ‘Pin. He and his mates are spoiled for choice here. They can drive the 17km of ocean beach to wet a line at the mouth of the Kolan River, or they can approach it by boat.
We chose the latter as it gives you the opportunity to drop a few crab pots in one of the mangrove-laden tributaries that flows into the Kolan. The river is a beautiful, pristine, and unexpectedly wide waterway.
Bill’s first port of call after checking his pots is usually a northern bank near the river mouth where he throws a cast net for live bait. We wouldn’t have been here five minutes and we had enough herring for the three of us to use.
Back to the boat and we anchored over a couple of snags not far away. We set our lines and sat back to enjoy a couple of Bundaberg’s finest ginger beers. Admittedly what followed was a pretty fruitless wait, but Bill reckons that spot has the potential to run hot for mangrove jack and whiting.
Over on the southern point Bill’s mates had clocked off work for an afternoon fishing session, and showed off a trevally and a flathead for our amusement. Steve Cronin said he had caught an 8kg queenfish here the previous week and that they get bream and whiting year round, and tailor through the winter months.
I love the bumper sticker the boys had made up. It reads ‘Moore Park, a little drinking village with a fishing problem’.
Having tested Bundy inshore, Gary and I were keen to head outside, and that opportunity came thanks to local small crops farmer Guy Barbera and his 40ft Noosa Cat.
Where do I start? On a gloriously calm day it was a good couple of hours run out to ‘Flat Country’ midway between Fraser Island and Lady Elliot Island. It is mostly red fern and the big red emperor just love it because it holds plenty of bait for them to feed on.
Guy reckons one of the benefits of heading offshore from Bundaberg Port is the easy run out, because you’ve got no coastal bar to contend with.
And if you’re prepared to travel the choices include the Bunker Group, which includes fishing around Lady Musgrave Island, or heading south to Fraser.
We were chasing big reds in about 130ft of water with my Shimano Trindad laced with 50lb braid and an 80lb leader.
Guy was very particular when it came to anchoring, because the patch of ground we were going to fish was about the size of two cars end on end, so being right on top of it was crucial to the success of our fishing.
After a few drifts, over went the pick and as the big girl slowly took up on the anchor Guy’s eyes didn’t leave the GPS or sounder to ensure we were right on the money.
The boys were fishing rigs of a big ball sinker, a small trace onto a 2-ganged hook that I normally wouldn’t use but they worked wonders. I went for my old dropper rig set up and it worked fine as well.
We used big slabs of mullet and whole squid for bait. The tide was huge so we really only had a small opportunity for prime fishing around the change of the tide.
And didn’t we clean up! Parrotfish, sweetlip, a monster cod and once we worked our way down past the schools of hussars we latched onto some very nice red emperor. The fish of the day had to go to Gazza, who landed an 8kg emperor –another dinner covered for the night.
You can suffer from the run-out here but if that’s the case head closer inshore where you can catch snapper and coral trout from about five miles out onwards.
We saw plenty of bait moving on the way in, so obviously the pelagics would go off here as well.
So, there’s plenty of red-hot offshore fishing and fun in the Kolan River and on the beach at Kinkuna, but having now spoken to plenty of anglers in the Bundaberg region we know we’ve barely scraped the surface.
We’re already planning trip number two that we hope will include a bit of freshwater fishing at Lake Monduran. - Scott HillierReads: 11187