FACING Island is one of the many jewels in the Gladstone crown and it’s easy to get to, with a passenger/vehicle barge taking visitors to Facing and nearby islands twice daily. This island offers a range of fishing options, making the location suitable for all fishers. Small reefs are very close by boat, and mangroves and beaches are within walking distance from just about everywhere. The eastern side offers ocean fishing for dart, trevally, tarwhine and bream.
A group of my mates make a weekend pilgrimage to Facing Island a couple of times a year and enjoy the hospitality of our hosts, Kelly and Norma Hutchings. These weekends produce stories that make it into local folklore. On this trip we were targeting whiting around the north tip of the island.
We travelled over on the Friday afternoon barge with a four-wheel-drive ute full of provisions and fishing gear. Four-wheel-driving on this island ranges from dead easy to moderately difficult. The exit from the barge at Farmers Point gives quick access to the island’s northwestern tracks, most of which are easily trafficable.
Our group consisted of some accomplished whiting fishers, who have the ability to produce whiting seemingly from thin air. The rods and tackle were as varied as the anglers – whippy tips, power tips, one-piece, two-piece, Alvey, spinning reels and baitcasters. The one thing in common was that all the fishers knew their gear.
I prefer an Alvey reel for my whiting outfit because spinning reels and sand don’t mix (I get a fair bit of sand on my outfit when walking beach gutters), and also because I like to lightly finger the line to feel every little tap.
Most whiting terminal tackle includes small pea sinkers and long wafting traces on very light line. Some anglers use paternoster setups with two separate hooks on loops. The jury is still out on red beads or tubing. Sometimes it seems to work like a magnet and sometimes you don’t even get a sniff.
On this trip Graham set the record straight, proving that one red bead and a bit of red tubing was the recipe for success. I tried without beads but didn’t come close to matching the catch. My luck didn’t change until I added a red bead above my hook and tubing between the swivel and sinker. The proof is in the pudding – I am now a red bead convert.
There are few whiting baits better than live yabbies. One of the best yabby banks around is just south Farmer’s Point. This yabby bank is productive most of the year, and the yabbies here can be found right up to the mangroves. We pumped only enough for our needs and kept the yabbies fresh and active.
Beaches on the northeastern end are easily accessible by four-wheel drive. The entrance (and exit) is via a small sandy blow-out which requires a power standing start to traverse. If you don’t make it the first time you’ll cop the ribbing of your mates (this lasts for quite some time, as I found out).
There are several sheltered bays and rocky outcrops on this beach with dart and whiting as targets. During our visit, prawns proved to be more suitable baits here. The yabbies, being soft baits, couldn’t handle the strong wave action.
After the front beach we headed to Castle Rock on the north/northeastern tip of the island. Castle Rock is so named because of its castle-like formations along the foreshore. It is an area of rock and sand but can be affected by weed following rough weather. Rocks about 15-20m out to sea set up a natural protective barrier for small beach areas. The beach meanders westward towards The Oaks and further onward to Farmers Point.
This northern tip of Facing is best fished on a making tide. As the tide floods the beach area, whiting, trevally, bream and dart sneak in, searching for food. Small waves wash against the rocks, dislodging food morsels like a natural berley and encouraging fish into the beach.
Heavy wave action during the weekend made this area less productive than we had hoped.
The next day we started at The Cave – a small rocky structure on the southern end of The Oaks beach area. Small waves roll over the sand, creating little puffs on the bottom and setting the whiting fishing on fire.
When using soft baits like live yabbies, allow the bait to do its own work. Bringing bait in too quickly can dislodge the yabby, leaving a bare hook. Wind slowly, stopping occasionally and allowing the movement of the livebait to appear as natural as possible to create an enticing target for whiting and flathead. On this trip it didn’t take long for us to bag some 30cm whiting.
We moved to the picturesque lighthouse area on the northern most tip of the island. The water is deeper here with dart being frequent catches. Wave action also brings the occasional sole to the beach. Sand and rock gutters act as fish attracting devices.
On this trip, Farmers Point and Farmers Beach were the most productive areas. My mate Graham bagged whiting after whiting with his rod, red beads and yabbies. We were all envious, but he started before breakfast and continued into dusk, proving that perseverance brings just rewards. He set the benchmark for the weekend – and didn’t he stick it to us!
1) Long whippy rods and light gear allow you to feel the tap of whiting attacking your bait.
2) A passenger and vehicle barge takes visitors to Facing and nearby islands twice daily.Reads: 2512