As forecasted, September provided a variety of species for anglers along Teewah Beach. Tailor suddenly started coming into the surf gutters and dart, whiting and tarwhine were being caught with some regularity. Bream however continued to be an occasional catch but snapper and cobia seemed to be available from all of the inshore and offshore reefs.
Word had gotten out that the tailor were on, which prompted hundreds of anglers to head to the North Shore to get their share. Some even did reasonably well despite ground swells from Tasman lows that made life difficult for a couple of weekends.
I had a great time finding spawning schools of tailor north of Teewah that didn't move for a week. Ranging in size from average choppers of around 40cm to solid greenbacks of about 70cm. These fish stayed on the chew all through the day with early morning particularly eventful. One morning session was a beauty, with every fish over 3kg and virtually every retrieve with any size Slider was hammered by these quality fish.
It became apparent early in the week that only slowly retrieved slugs or slugs that were cranked early and then virtually stopped would receive strikes. Any quickly retrieved lures arrived back at the beach untouched. This isn't unusual for spawning tailor or for tailor heavy with roe, whereas 'empty' fish tend to prefer a fast retrieve. As such, baits can work quite well on tailor during winter, though I haven't gone down that path for many years.
In the midst of the tailor action, I received a call from Ash Palmer whose family have a house at Teewah. He was eager to get his jetski up here to chase snapper and cobes on a nearby inshore reef. The last excursion on Ash's Ski to this reef resulted in an 18kg Spaniard along with many spotties and reefies. With a week of westerlies forecast, we anticipated comfortable, if somewhat freezing, conditions to work with.
So with a borrowed wetsuit and a jumper or two, I was ready to brave the first light conditions with Ash. We'd decided to play with plastics for a while due to convenience and the likelihood of snapper being present. First drop with the 5” nuclear chicken resulted in a small snapper, as did the second drop. Third time down and something obviously bigger took the chook. After 10 minutes or so a large jew surfaced near and had Ash digging out the gaff in preparation. An hour and a half later and with Ash still holding the gaff, a shark came along and spoilt the fun by cutting my leader and most likely having a feed of tired jew.
By this stage the bite had slowed right down and we decided that a hot shower and brekky was on the cards and a regroup for an afternoon session. Again the plan was to begin with plastics and to berley up with the option of jigging up some livies. More small snapper, sweetlip, Maori cod and tailor responded to the plastics before Ash decided a livey needed a start. And it wasn't long before his yakka was taken by an obviously good fish displaying all the tell-tale signs of a cobia.
The sun by this stage was setting and with memories of the long fight with the jew fresh in our minds, we were both wondering if we would be negotiating the surf in the dark. Ash didn't seem keen on that idea and increased the pressure on the fish. After 15 minutes a nice cobe of 18kg surfaced beside the ski and was promptly gaffed. Again the jetski had delivered good fish and our thoughts were that there would be many more to come.
Back on the beach the tailor were still chewing with most anglers finding a feed along with some nice tarwhine. The local netters also began searching the surf for schools of tailor and caused me some angst when they watched the spawning schools that I was having fun with for a half hour or so before moving on. However, over the next few days the netters found other schools, which caused everything to shut down once again.
Two weeks later, some choppers and a few dart have started to come back in. Naturally enough, the pros have turned up again after netting trevally in the river and tailor and whiting at Sandy Cape. It stands to reason I guess, that with weed-free conditions and tailor schools more likely to come into the gutters, that the netters would be keen to make the most of it. Unfortunately, this is causing an awful lot of anglers to go home empty-handed and wondering why they failed after the good reports that had been flying around.
Not being able to find anything on Teewah Beach due to groundswells, I was informed that it was possible to get around the trees at the northern side of the Leisha Track. So I decided that a run to Middle Rocks at Rainbow was worth a try.
Accompanied by a couple of close friends, we timed our run up the beach to arrive two hours before low tide to give us as much time as possible in the bay. And two hours either side of low is all there is available to get around the trees without being stranded. Fortunately for us, the effort was rewarded with a number of choppers taking slugs over two separate patches of rock.
Another visit a few days later resulted in similar numbers, but a subsequent trip this week produced just one small chopper. However, on the way back down the beach, I recognised a friend's vehicle at Massouds Rocks and the owner dropping a chopper in his esky. Quite a few choppers were taken on pilchards and on Sliders before going off the chew.
October traditionally still has good tailor on offer along with tarwhine, whiting and once upon a time bream. This is likely to be the case this year also, but the netters have me worried and windows of opportunity may be narrow as a result of their activities. There is nothing that I can suggest to get around this and in reality there is nothing that can be done about it. The only option that takes netting out of the equation is to head to Fraser and fish between Indian Head and Hook Point. And with mostly good reports coming from Fraser this year, it may well be worth the cost and effort.
Last month I made mention of planned vehicle permits and decreased camping numbers and a beach closure to 4WD between the 1st and 3rd beach cuttings. The state government has now released details of costs and confirmed the planned beach closures.
The cost of a vehicle permit will be in line with Fraser Island at $37 for a monthly permit or $185 for a yearly. Camping numbers are to be capped, although at a greater number than recommended. It will allow 2000 campers at Christmas and Easter, 1200 during shoulder season and 600 campers in the off-season. Freshwater Camping Ground and The Beachfront Caravan Park will be enlarged to cater for several more hundred campers.
The beach will be closed to 4WD between the 1st and 3rd cuts and also the last bay on the northern side of Double Island Point.
None of this should come as a surprise as it has been in the wind for well over a year. In my opinion, the beach closures are much needed to counteract the massive volume of beach users currently destroying the natural assets of the area.
The media has labelled it a tax grab with secret deals having been done. This is certainly not the case with a cross section of the community represented in the consultancy phase of these plans. These measures are in line with the wishes of most, if not all, of the consulted parties and are in the best interests of the area and those who wish to continue enjoying it.
We should surely be grateful that a heavier stick was not used and it is my belief that a healthy balance between tourism and environment has been struck. Things certainly could not continue unabated.Reads: 1953