Sabina Shows of an average sized cobia that took a liking to a trolled lure

When it comes to variety in fishing, there’s nothing quite like Queensland’s Hervey Bay for an abundance of species on offer. In fact, the number of species available and the diversity of habitat in which they are found makes the Hervey Bay area very attractive to both sportsfishermen and the weekend fishermen alike.

Hervey Bay is a small city situated North of Brisbane, Queensland’s capital city. By car the journey takes approximately three and a half hours and if time is against you, airlines regularly service “The Bay”, as it is affectionately known. A quick drive along Hervey Bay’s scenic Esplanade will no doubt have your mind ticking over as to the possibilities of the fishing in the area. Potential fishing bases abound as beaches, rocks and jetties are passed. Looking out over the bay towards Fraser Island, boats are anchored on reefs where Snapper and Tuskfish can be caught. In winter the Whiting brigade are out in force catching a feed for the table. Delectable, sweet fillets of fish are usually not hard to come by in Hervey Bay.

A stop-over at one of the many tackle and bait shops along the Esplandade is a must, here you will find first hand local knowledge on what’s biting and where. It is also a good time to stock up on tackle and bait.

Inspection of the facilities of the Urangan Boat Harbour is mandatory. This is the home base for many whale watching boats, offshore fishing charters and the vehicle barge to Fraser Island. The Urangan Boat Harbour is also one of the best places to launch and retrieve trailer boats. By necessity, due to the huge influx of tourists over holiday periods, a couple of multi-lane boat ramps along with ample parking has been made available for cars and trailers. Once you have launched your boat, the hardest decision to make is where to fish and what species should be targeted.

The Author Leeann Payne, with a nice fly caught Golden Trevally

For the Sportsfisho in the Bay

The flats of Hervey Bay were well documented in many local and international magazines over the 1995 - 1997 period due to one fish; the Golden Trevally.
These Golden Trevally average between 6kg to 8kg and move up onto the flats on a rising tide to feed on yabbies (nippers), small crabs and baitfish. The first of the making tide is an ideal time to hunt for Trevally, particularly when the water is knee deep.

Sightcasting with fly tackle is one of the most exciting ways in which to target these fish. The classic tell-tale sign of the feeding Golden Trevally in shallow water is the merry waving of tails in the air. On days where the water is mirror calm, anglers have no problem in finding fish. However, when the fish aren’t tailing as such, anglers need to work on other manners of fish finding methods. One is to polaroid the flats and polarised glasses are a necessary requirement in this situation. One needs to be ready rod in hand to make a cast to any likely looking objects in the water. Look for silver flashes or dark shapes, a stingray stirring up the sand will often have Golden Trevally in tow, looking for an easy meal. One of the best ways to locate fish is to find birds working over the flats. Their presence usually means that fish aren’t too far away.

As the Trevally season progresses (August to April/May), fish understandingly become more accustomed to boat and motor noise and getting within casting distance of wary fish can be frustrating. In these situations, you can either pole from a boat or jump out into the water and wade. Thankfully, Crocodiles do not reside this far south but you should be aware of the local shark and ray population. Razor shells on the flats are another menace which can cause nasty cuts to feet but wearing suitable footwear will eliminate any problems.

Once you have located fish, it is time to make your cast. Try following the feeding pattern of the fish so the cast can be made ahead of the fish, especially if they are in swimming mode. If they are feeding head down, tail up, a cast made to the side with a clouser can turn their interest from the food at hand to your fly. Never, ever cast the flyline over the top of the fish or make the fly swim towards the fish. It’s very unnatural for a baitfish to be swimming towards its predator! For flyfishers who have taken to the task of wading, a stripping basket is a necessity to avoid coils of flyline dragging in the water. Long casts are often called upon to reach fish and if you can make a cast of a good 80-100ft, you’re all the more closer to hooking a great flats fish.

A minimum of an eight weight fly rod is required to cast heavily weighted flies, though personally I prefer the use of a ten weight. This gives me the ability to cast heavy clousers with the minimum of effort whilst still maintaining good distance As the Trevally are often found in clear shallow water, every effort should be made to not spook the fish. Clear intermediate fly lines, or some of the great clear, sink-tips on the market are ideal for this situation. Long flurocarbon leaders of 6kg - 8kg can be beneficial in increasing the chance of a hookup. The majority of flies used in the Hervey Bay area have been clousers tied on a 2/0 hook with yellow and white, chartreuse and white, grey and white and even pink and white patterns being productive. The retrieve is a simple one when using clousers. A long, medium speed retrieval usually works quite well. Once you feel the fish hit the fly, set the hook with the rod tip pointed directly at the fish. Once hooked, keep your knuckles clear of the reel handles and wait until the “Goldie” has finished its first 100 metre run. They will make several more extended runs before the fight is over and a minimum of 300 metres of backing should be used on a reel with a suitable drag. As these fish are hooked in shallow water, there’s only one way for them to go, and that’s out!

 

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