THIS IS the second instalment of our May Day long weekend trip to Weipa. In last month’s issue I covered what you would need for a long run down the coast, giving consideration to the need to balance out your boat for the distances covered while maintaining the fishability of a small boat. You need to be able to access small creeks at low tide or to drag the boat up the beach if you’re unlucky enough to be struck by rough weather – at least allowing you to sit it out on the beach until the weather turns good the next day.
When you think about Weipa the first thing that comes to mind is shallow lures and pelagics, which Weipa always seems to be crawling with. Our trip in May was to target barra along the rocks and travel down the coast. Although we did this, the biggest fish we landed seemed to pull up at 90cm. We just couldn't crack anything over a metre, and have learnt that the time of year can help in this department.
The mad-keen group of guys I fished with had the ability to read a situation on their own and nut out an area very quickly. Campbell ate and drank left-handed while swinging a plug rod in his right hand, and if you know Glen you wouldn't expect anything less! The pressure was on from the time we jumped on the plane, and I knew that whoever caught the biggest fish for the trip was going to rub it in all the way home! Thank heavens we flew home!
Glen managed a 70cm plus fingermark on a big white Squidgy on an offshore reef, just after I gave him a serve with “Now is no time to be a pioneer!” That fish came out of a bite of 40-45cm fingermark on bait and just goes to show what else is there if you offer the right thing.
Most of our fish in the creeks fell to Leads Hijackers and boy, they caught some fish! Hijackers just suit that high tide/shallow water mangrove environment. To see your lure get flogged, just cast behind the mangrove branches right up as far as you can, or into the mouth of a drain or back cover using a stab twitch.
Bombers may have achieved good results as well, but the weight of a Hijacker gives you a bit more authority and therefore more accurate casting, which is very important. The mouth of coastal creeks on the bottom of the run-out tide quite funnily saw lots of queenfish, trevally (both golden and diamond), and big tarpon – but out of all the lures we used, a good old white bucktail jig cast out upstream and slowly bounced along the bottom (down deep) pulled 80% of the fish. Regardless of the poppers, soft plastics or hard-bodied minnows used, the old $4 Chinese jig was lethal. Sitting back later we also thought Squidgy Heads with bucktail jig bodies and tinsel flash would be lethal as they have better quality hooks, especially for tarpon.
On the way back to Weipa we couldn't resist a quick afternoon session on the beacons. I have been emptied of Prawnstars around these structures before, but this time we covered each beacon late in the afternoon for not one bite! It just goes to show even consistent spots can’t always be backed.
We were first-timers at this type of trip, and although we learnt a hell of a lot I can see that the Gulf has the potential to turn very nasty with southwesterly winds. Remember that it’s open water and you're in charge of your own safety. When you’re visiting this location – or in any other remote area – you always need to be cautious (and to watch the weather). We were lucky to have such good local knowledge – a big thank you to Steve Head for this.
That's Weipa for me in May 2004.
1) Golden trevally figured prominently on our trip when we used the humble bucktail jig.
2) Diamond trevally are a welcome and exciting catch. They are a weird shape, but they certainly look sensational.Reads: 662