Great land-based options
  |  First Published: September 2003

I’VE JUST come back from one of the best fishing trips I’ve had in years! I took my kids down to Ross Creek, in the heart of Townsville’s CBD, and we went back to basics – light lines, whippy rods, a handful of small hooks and sinkers and a packet of prawns. There were no thousand-dollar rod and reel combos, no sounders, no lures – just some great fishing.

My kids had a ball catching what most people in the north call ‘by-catch’ and I enjoyed it just as much as they did. There were no blistering runs or savage bust-ups that usually accompany our northern species, but the yellowfin and pikey bream with the odd whiting and moses perch mixed in really kept the kids entertained.

Ross Creek has a lot to offer if you want to get your kids into fishing or you feel like a good feed of bread-and-butter species. First, peel your prawns and throw the heads and shells into the water at your feet. This has the effect of berley, bringing the fish to you and hopefully turning them on to feed. As always, live bait (especially prawns) is the premium bait but frozen prawns will still put you onto fish.

You can find a good spot along the Ross Creek easily using the same principle you’d use for any other creek in the north. First, locate some structure. Bridge pylons, rock walls, mangrove roots, gutters, snags and even the humble shopping trolley are all great fish holding structures. The most effective way to locate these is to head down and case the area during low tide. If you find structure that’s surrounded by yabby holes or covered in barnacles or small oysters, you’ve found a possible hot spot. Most fish species can be very predictable – find a spot where they can hide from predators or tidal currents, add food and you’ve got a piscatorial oasis. As the tide rises, schools of small herring and mullet flicking on the surface can also attract predators, and it’s well worth setting a bait in the general area of the active school.

From experience, I prefer fishing the Ross Creek on the tides higher than two metres and fishing these in last two to three hours of the run-in. Fishing larger baits, especially live mullet, herring or prawns, can result in unbelievable catches of barra, fingermark and jacks, but during the colder months these fish tend not to be regular catches for most anglers.


If you really want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, Townsville’s northern beaches have a lot to offer. Easy access, well signed and sealed roads and many miles of beachfront give the angler a great start. Finding a spot along your chosen stretch of beach is just a matter of how far you’re prepared to walk.

As with any beach fishing, the main structures are gutters and sandbars. When these are close to, or covered in, yabby holes (which are easily identified) you can be sure that fish move into these areas at some stage of the tide.

The best way to locate these new spots is to review the area at low tide. This method becomes almost mandatory if you want to pump fresh yabbies, although store-bought frozen prawns will catch fish and are generally a lot easier on your back! But if you have the time and the energy, two things to remember are that fresh bait is always best, and half the fun of fishing is catching the bait – especially if you can get the kids involved.

Another thing to look for when you’re beachcombing for bait is the presence of fish on the last tide, indicated by flathead lies and trevally holes. Flathead lies are where flathead have lain in the sand with just their eyes showing, waiting to ambush any bait that comes too close. A lie looks like an elongated diamond shape in the sand. Trevally holes are generally about four to six inches deep and about a foot across, with distinct sand piles on either side where the fish have pumped sand out through their gills whilst feeding. If there’s evidence of fish activity near a bait station or yabby bed, chances are you’ve stumbled onto a hotspot.

Hopefully these few ideas will help all our land-based fishos out of the doldrums. However, it’s also nice to note that it won’t be long before the barra weather is upon us again!


The weather we’ve been experiencing in the north over the past few months has left many of the boaties high and dry, with a few able to sneak in quick trips to West Point, off Maggie Island, or to the weedbeds inside Cleveland Bay (located from Alligator Creek north to Long Breach). Quick trips to Townsville’s shipping channel markers and Cape Cleveland itself have all produced fish lately and should continue to be productive, when weather permits, for the next month or so.

The majority of bluewater catches have been spotty and doggie mackerel with a few trevally and tuna also showing their colours. There have not been any reported cobia catches inside the bay, but I assure you from past records that there should be more than just a few of these big boys cruising the currents. When targeting cobia, remember that the majority of catches have coincided with the use of a little berley. This method is often the secret to success.

If the winds do come down, trolling the outside of Cape Cleveland around 20ft and 4ft rocks or out around Salamander reef (located at E 147 – 03 – 607 S 19 – 10 – 814) should yield good sized spotties and Spanish mackerel, whilst further offshore red season is in full swing with most shoals holding good fish numbers. Fish can also be found at any of the prominent wrecks, such as the bomber in the shipping lane at E147 – 10 – 230 S18 – 55 - 953.

So hopefully that’s enough to encourage you to get out there and have a go… and if you have kids, take them too!

1) Logan Jones with a average doggie mackerel taken on the weed beds inside Cleveland bay.

2) Riley Jones with a healthy little bream from Ross Creek.

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