Fly Fishing Weipa
  |  First Published: October 2009

I am admitting to an addiction to fly fishing at Weipa. The area is just so fish rich that I have often commented I could catch all the fish I wanted to with my fly rod – from the shore – so long as I had a bicycle as transport.

A stroll along any of the waterside areas of Weipa, whether in the harbour or beside one of the beaches, will reveal the presence of predatory fish on the job at any given time. Chops, splashes, diving birds, bait skipping frantically to get away from the jaws below are what Weipa sightseeing is all about.

A recent trip prompted me to promote the flyfishing potential of Weipa, which remains as a must- do destination for the dedicated flyfisher. While the fishing remains simply out of this world, there are a few things to consider that tend to bring you down to earth very smartly.

Flight considerations

I flew to Weipa, which is the easiest way to get there. Once at Cairns, Weipa is only a little over an hour away and the sight of the big harbour and Gulf of Carpentaria waters stretching as far as the eye can see will set the pulse racing as you approach to the Weipa airport. There is however, a small matter to consider before getting to that point.

Flying to Weipa on the Dash Eight means you can take only ONE item of hand luggage aboard, and this constraint also applies when leaving Weipa where the rule is enforced most determinedly, and this item must be no more than 4kg. So a bit of a reshuffle might be in order if you like to carry lots of gear on board an aircraft. It's a small thing but worth remembering to avoid angst.

Transport and Accommodation

At the Weipa airport there are signs advertising hire vehicles. There is excellent air-conditioned accommodation in town at The Palms Motel, the rooms at the hotel or the units at the Weipa camping grounds and information centre.

I consider the campgrounds, which also have a brilliant beach side lodge, a good kick off point as there are hire boats available plus the proprietors, Colin and Maree Johnson are friendly folk who will assist the enquiring visitor with a lot of handy information. Their phone number is (07) 4069 7871, email is --e-mail address hidden-- for more follow up.

To digress just a little Denise and I walked from the camp grounds to a set of rocks around 300m away on the first afternoon of our last visit and took a 73cm barra with the third cast of a popper. Getting the picture on the Weipa fishing?


A quality 8wt outfit is about right for Weipa. If you are in the market for a top shelf, but budget priced rod that is good value for money, try out one of the G.Loomis Experience rods. These retail under the $500 mark but with their quick, very strong, action they have all the power in the world to control and ultimately turn a strong fish, I've used my 10wt Experience on barra up to 20kg and it certainly has some authority.

Most of the fishing at Weipa will be off the beach or boat based so fish are hooked just beyond the tiny waves that gently wash the sand or out in clear water where they can be allowed to run, and run, and usually run some more. Sooner or later the drag will win and the fish will come back to the angler, so long as a shark doesn't get it. Fish rich waters always carry a mother lode of sharks and the whalers at Weipa are a persistent bunch of thugs.

The chosen reel needs to have a good capacity for backing, at least 300m, plus a drag that will not fade under duress.

Most Weipa fly anglers rely on an intermediate sink rate line for their fly fishing and so long as the chosen fly line has a tropical climate rating, and is clear or clear tipped, it will do the job.

Flies can be virtually anything at all so long as it is a chartreuse and white Clouser tied on a Gamakatsu SL12S size 2/0 or maybe up to 3/0. Yes, the message is clear, the Clouser is a mighty fly at Weipa and very hard to go past.

Barra Dave (aka Dave Donald) has had outstanding success on virtually anything that swims at Weipa with the Toad Fly. For the tying of this relative newcomer to the fly angler's box do a Google search and the tying will come up nice and simple. Dave ties most of his on 2/0 hooks.

Finding the Way

Weipa is not a confusing place to fish, there are just so many opportunities available. Many would be content with the great queenfish and trevally activity that is ongoing around the jetty right beside the launching ramp. The prop wash pushes the bait out from its sanctuary in the shallows and the big fish feed; simple as that.

For the more adventurous folk Barra Dave Donald is very happy to give them a kick off in the right direction and one of his specialties is introducing anglers to the delights of the Mapoon area a couple of hour's drive north of Weipa. He concentrates on providing a quality personally guided service in the Weipa/Mapoon area for 2 to 3 clients at a time but can cater for up to 8 on a share basis.

Dave also works freelance for other guides and mother ship operations when needed. The wide sandy flats in the Mapoon area are renowned for the legendary permit that are, of course, the Holy Grail for most fly angling enthusiasts.

The Mapoon experience is rather unique; imagine sight fishing for the likes of trevally, queenfish, blue salmon, giant herring, or even a hard to fool permit and not seeing another angler! Dave Donald can be contacted on Barra Dave's Sportfishing Services on 0427 699 064 or at --e-mail address hidden-- .

Last Considerations

Weipa has ample infrastructure for the travelling fly rodder. There's a large chain store for groceries and other items, a butcher, baker, a news agency and while there are decent sized hardware and sports stores. A broken fly rod might be hard to replace so I would take a spare along for the trip.

The climate is going to be hot: so take the right clothing and ample sun protection. Water intake must be kept up while fishing or you will fall in a heap around mid afternoon with that awful coppery taste in the mouth.

Wading about is not real smart in water that is not clear because of the ever-present crocs, of which there is no shortage whatsoever. Also, in summer the box jellyfish are around so if you choose to wade the idea is wear long trousers to protect the legs, keep some vinegar on standby in case of a sting and only wade where water is very clear and keep on croc watch.

If you decide to take the car and tow the boat make certain that the trailer is totally up to scratch as there are hundreds of kilometres of rough dirt road to negotiate between Lakeland Downs and Weipa.

One hears horror stories of trailers punching holes though hulls as rollers fall off unseen or hydraulic steering systems simply breaking off the boat from the incessant vibration. Dust too, finds its way into everything including the outboard's intake system. A lot of preparation is required, from all accounts, before attempting a road run to Weipa with the boat.

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