Fishing Central Queensland’s National Parks is a Lot of Fun….
The best time to be fishing Central Queensland’s National Parks
Spring sees the bait school up thick in the creeks and along the headlands and is therefore a prime time to fish this part of the world. September was just around the corner so we had to make do with the late winter conditions on offer and hope the bait would come early. For this particular fishing adventure, I was not alone. Uncle Dave shuffled his schedule and joined me for a few days of fishing at some of my favourite land based fishing locations in Central Queensland.
Fishing Five Rocks in Byfield National Park
First stop was Five Rocks. It is an hour north of Yeppoon in Byfield National Park and accessible only by 4WD. The camp ground has good good facilities and driving on 9 Mile Beach without needing a permit is a nice bonus.
We were up early in the morning and set-off to fish from the rocks out front to access the deeper water. Spinning slugs got me hooked into a large Mackerel early on. The drag squealed as this fish ripped a lot of line out on an epic first run. It soon dropped the lure however and that was the end of that. The teeth marks all over the slug left us in no doubts as to what I had just tangled with.
We couldn’t find any more Mackerel but a school of Mack Tuna came in close to chase bait. After dropping a couple, both Dave and I landed one Mac Tuna each off the rocks. They pull very hard and towards the end of the tussle, Mac Tuna always circle wide and hold themselves in the current. It is when these wide circles bring the fish in near the rocks that you are particularly at risk of your line rubbing and the fish getting away. After a couple of long hard battles though we eventually got our fish safely in. Catching these awesome sport fish off the rocks on light spinning gear was a massive highlight of the trip for us both.
As usual there were plenty of Estuary Cod about; the best going a respectable 45cm. Much to my astonishment, I caught this fish on metal slug! We finished up down at the always spectacular Corio Bay the following day where we landed a feed of Flathead and Bream.
Fishing Cape Palmerston National Park
Next we traveled a few hours north to fish the shallow reefs off the headlands at Cape Palmerston National Park. You need a 4WD to get to Cape Palmerston and it can only really be fished at high tide. We arrived just as the tide started to go out and tied on some surface lures.
Although we were targeting Trevally and Queenfish we both scored Parrot Fish to around the 35cm mark. This was a bit of a surprise on surface lures but we were certainly not complaining. We arrived at one of the deeper channels with the outgoing tide powering through it. Dave muttered “there has to be a Trevally here!” These words could not have been more prophetic.
Cape Palmerston GT
The very next cast, Dave skipped his popper over a reef and a huge dark shadow followed it all the way in to the rocks. Dave stopped the lure just 2m from the bank. I peered over and could see the huge 15kg Black Giant Trevally just watching the popper from below.
Dave gave it a last tiny twitch and the popper disappeared in a splash. The next 15 seconds felt like time stood still. The fish pounded down current, across the exposed reef and just kept racing away. We laughed at the ridiculousness of even trying to fight this beast on a 3-5gk rod and 8lb braid. As the 150m of braid rapidly turned to the last strands of back line mono – we tightened the drag until it snapped. Dave got back most of his line, which he was pretty happy about.
Fishing Cape Hillsborough National Park
Dave had to get back home so I dropped him off in Mackay before continuing to Cape Hillsborough solo. The natural rock formation of the Bay makes for some magnificent land based fishing opportunities. The net free status of the area will only make it even better over time. Wolf Herring to 70cm were thick and I was catching them every second cast on blades. Just as I was wondering if there was anything else around – my spoon got hit by a Mackerel. The fight was short and immensely frustrating because my FG leader knot failed. This was not the first time the FG knot has failed me and so I will happily be returning to my version of the modified Albright which has served me well for so long.
Fishing Airlie Beach in tinnie
My final stop was at Airlie beach where my friend Micah took me out cruising around the inshore islands of the Whitsundays. The weather was incredible; no wind and perfectly glassed out conditions. We noticed a school of Trevally under a jetty and snuck the tinnie to within casting distance.
I opened the mornings account with a 3kg Bigeye Trevally on a shallow diver on my first cast. Micah on the very next cast in the same spot connected to something that tried to bust him off on every single reef bommie in the area. After a bit of boat manoeuvring we finally got first sight of his spectacular Golden Trevally. We finally got him into the boat which we were super stoked about. We finished off the day getting into a few Grassy Sweetlip from the inshore reefs. It was a great trip and a reminder of how lucky we are to live in Queensland.
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