Where do you run away to for a holiday if you live on a tropical island? Visitors ask that question regularly, when you say you are back from a holiday break. The answer is sometimes “another island”, or in our case 74 of them, the Whitsunday Islands. We had a wonderful 10 days (mid-season pay for 7) floating around the islands of the Whitsundays, in a 36 foot Fairway cruiser from Queensland Yacht Charters, a dream holiday for us because Janie gets to read, relax and cook the most awesome meals in the galley, (food tastes so much better when at sea, it really does) while I fish and explore in the tender. Then we would weigh anchor, cruise the islands and avoid the masses of curious whales in the comfort of our boat. All that and no licence required. That’s called bareboating the Whitsundays, but its big business and a great idea. If you haven’t been to Hamilton Island then you should go, although there are drawbacks. GRMPA have done some awesome work installing moorings in popular anchorages to stop the reef being smashed by anchors so much and adding that extra security that you get by not sitting next to shallow reef at anchor after dark. (that stuff gets in your head and destroys your sleep.)
The Whitsundays waters are so much clearer than ours, more like the eastern side of the Palm group. This can be challenging when fishing the shallow waters, because you need to keep your gear light and the lure moving faster than in our murkier waters. I used the opportunity to test out some new lure colours and types, and one blew away the competition and beat all other contenders’ hands down and believe me I took a big bag of lures. I’m looking forward to trying it around the island over the next week or two and will let you know if it works as well here. To answer the other question I was asked, yes; that should make the trip partially tax deductable, or does it? All in all, the Whitsundays was top action great fun and I ended up getting 29 different species all on soft plastics, plus many other fun standout moments like seeing Pentecost Island, the only island in the group impressive enough to be named by Captain Cook personally, (it’s a candidate for the next King Kong movie.)
Patience; All Things Will Come…
One crazy session happened when we were anchored in the amazingly calm Macona Inlet at the bottom of Hook Island. A school of herring decided to take residence around the boat, and I had just got back in the tender. I went up to the fly bridge and grabbed the bait jig rod, and promptly hooked one unlucky Herring by the belly. I bolted down to main deck, (yes fishing is hard work) and threw it on the nearest fishing rod and chucked it over the side. Within 2 seconds a hungry Queenie smashed the herring and took off full noise. Unfortunately, the top 2 guides on the fishing rod busted and I had to handline the beast to the boat with Janie filming the show. Feeling a great filming session coming I changed rigs, ran back up to the flybridge (did I mention fishing is hard work?) and dropped the jig again. Nothing… Nought… Nada! These little silver guys were smarter than me. They graciously moved out of the way to let the jig go past. Okay, new strategy, I grabbed my trusty cast nest and slung that thing till my arm ached. Those little fish with pinhead brains avoided all my casts in the crystal-clear water, but to taunt me they then followed the net up each time with great interest. After half an hour I was getting very frustrated. Then, my ears picked up this rustling noise and suddenly the water came alive. A monster Queenie in search of afternoon tea tore through those fish, and this one suicidal fish decided to jump out of the water and land smack into the boat. I looked over at Janie and we just laughed, it was one of those silly moments in life. I grabbed that sacrificial herring and chucked him on the line quick smart dropped him down and off we went again. What great fun that mini session was. I love the unpredictability of NQ fishing.
Picnic Bay – And The Trouble With Herring
We all waited years, 5 years and more, for the herring to return to the jetty, and now they seem very settled, and in numbers bigger than most can remember. Thousands of farting herring are there for the taking, and the predators are close by. However, the big predators are smart, and getting very wary of heavy gear. Hoppy put it to me this way. “I fished with herring for ages, nothing wanted the bait, then pulled my rod out to leave and tossed the herring into the water to freedom, he had earned it. Several Queenies, realising there was no line attached to the little guy smashed that injured herring in front of my eyes. He was gulped down in seconds.” The art of fishing Picnic Bay now is to fish with lighter line, as the Mackerel, Queenfish, Grunter and Trevally are getting very sensitive to heavy fishing line, and wire trace. Another local hooked up something huge and colourful, with great strength and the battle was on as it tried to take him around towards Cockle Bay and then under the jetty before he finally manoeuvred it back closer to the jetty and saw what he had on the line. Devastated, he looked down on a Chinaman fish, a protected ciguatera carrier and not the prize catch he thought he had. Bummer mate, better luck next time. He was devastated and understandably. Tip – get pike, pike love anything moving incredibly fast and waving a tentacle or two so use soft plastics not jigs and red or red/white are best. Just remember that pike works as well filleted and floating in the water, as it does live. Those wonderful colour shades sparkle through the water and attract fish easily.
What’s With The Sharks?
Ray just got back from the Slasher group for a three-day trip on a Grand Banks 48′ (tough life) and reported the same problems lots of deep anglers have had lately, that is the number of big sharks out there smashing all the fish when you try to get them to the surface. The fastest way to get them away from the sharks is either hand lining or electric reels. Electric reels can retrieve 150 feet in one minute, meaning the fish are still wondering what the hell just happened when they hit the surface. Some would say that’s not fishing, but if you want Trout for dinner and there’s a school of large sharks, it’s probably your only chance.
Until next time gone Fishin’…. be back at dark-thirty
Magnetic Adventure & Hire/MI Rentals
36 Mandalay Ave, Nelly Bay 4778-5126
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