Fishing South East Queensland's Freshwater



Gary "Fitzy" Fitzgerald

Whenever people go on a trip or holiday it is normal to check out the intended destination for things to see and do apart from the obvious reason for going there. This was the case recently while planning a sports trip to Townsville. Being a keen fisho and having the game plan to go early to acclimatize to the weather (that's our excuse and We're sticking to it) I thought it would be a good opportunity to chase some of the local piscatorial species available.

While on the phone to fellow fishing correspondent Dave "Nugget" Downie, he suggested searching on the internet for a local fisho who might like a crew for a day or any guides operating in the area. A simple message on a couple of chat boards on the net gave me several responses and a few contacts of charter operators in the Townsville region. After some phone calls and only getting answering machines, the ringing on the other end of the line yielded a real person in the form of Brad Doyle from Cleveland Bay Sportfishing Charters. After the initial chat and the obvious question " isn't Cleveland in Moreton Bay" it was explained that Cleveland Bay is at Townsville (you wouldn't think that I worked there 10 years ago) we got down to exactly what I was looking for. Brad suggested chasing a few reefies or trolling for some Mackerel, but after explaining that we can do all that in the south he agreed that Barra were to be the main target.

The flight there was quite pleasant as were the cool drinks served to the team around the pool at Seagulls resort (until about midnight). Getting picked up (both me and my hangover) outside the resort at five in the morning we headed about 50 km south of Townsville to the Houghton river, Brad informed me that the other guys booked for the day could not make it so it was just the two of us. So, I invited Brad to fish as it would make the day more enjoyable.
One thing that should be remembered is that,  if you are paying someone to take you fishing and he or she fish without being invited , you should not pay them.
Within the first few hundred metres around the corner there was plenty of surface action, which Brad called as Barra chopping into schools of baitfish. After an experimental cast with a Mann's stretch 20 a trevally around the four to five kilo mark was subdued after a bullocking run back down the river. Several more around the same size committed suicide on our lines before I called a halt and requested a look at the snags Brad had told me about that hold the barra. A pass over one of the snags showed an old mangrove tree that had fallen in and was on the bottom in 25 feet of water with fish sitting all through and around it. It was explained to me that live prawns were the go and after the first offering got bricked on 30lb mono line I had a feeling that a fair session was looming.

Over the next hour, several fish were caught including barra, school jew, pikey bream (see pic) and trevally as well as a couple of unstoppables. As the high tide stopped running the fish decided to go into overdrive and it was a case of getting slammed before the bait hit the bottom. A few jigs that had proved successful down south on bass got nailed but the 15lb braid I had on my rig was not up to the task. Getting them out of the snags before getting busted off was an effort, much to my guides amusement with the obligatory "I told you so" getting thrown in.

The day had been one to remember not that any records were set (the biggest barra was 69 cm long) but the fact that a clean, clear river with plenty of fish and no other boats around made this trip very enjoyable. It was also encouraging to see plenty of juvenile fish mixed in with the bigger specimens showing how healthy the system is in the area.

My guide for the day was Brad Doyle from Cleveland Bay Sportfishing Charters at Townsville who runs a five-meter plate aluminum boat that can accommodate up to five people. Give him a call on 07 47737871 or 0418 761346. By the way this was not an article written because I got a free days fishing (as is the case at times with somewriters) in fact I paid full price for Brad's services which are $85/ half day and $140/ full day. Fitzy..



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