Brownie Point Holiday!

DESTINATIONS: Couran Cove Island Resort

Getting away for a family holiday is always great. It’s even better if you can wangle some fishing action as well! BEN CADDAYE did just that when he and his family stayed at Queensland’s Couran Cove.

ANY angler with family responsibilities is familiar with the “brownie points” system. Points are accrued by investing time into your partner, children and domestic duties, and generally involve activities like mowing the lawn, taking the kids to the park or, when serious points are required, visiting the in-laws.

These points are then subsequently used to negotiate fishing trips, whether they be two-hour stints on your local waterway or weeks away on the trip of a lifetime.

Most anglers who operate under the system will spend most of their time in serious brownie points debt – I know I do!

So, when researching a destination for my family’s latest annual holiday, I needed to find a location where I wouldn’t need a bank of brownie points in order to indulge in a bit of fishing; a single location where my wife and two young kids could relax and play and I could squeeze in a few casts.

Couran Cove Island Resort has featured in the pages of Fisho previously. In fact, editor Jim Harnwell, who stayed there with his family many moons ago, recommended it to me as a great destination for a family-friendly fishing holiday.

And he was spot on.

Located on South Stradbroke Island, minutes from the Gold Coast, Couran Cove Island Resort is an up-market, family-friendly resort designed to operate in harmony with its pristine wilderness surroundings.

The resort is virtually within sight of the beachfront high-rises of Surfers Paradise yet,
while on the island, you feel a million miles away from civilisation.

You won’t, however, feel far away from creature comforts, as the resort is equipped with pools, restaurants, a bar, day spa, tennis courts and access to a range of leisure activities.

The great thing about Couran Cove is it almost forces you to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Because the resort is so large and spread out, the most effective way to see it all is via pedal power – and there are hundreds of bikes available for hire. My kids loved this aspect, and so did my wife.

A bike is also a great way to explore the fishing options on offer in and around Couran Cove. Early each morning and late every evening I’d strap my rod to my bike and head off to a different corner of the resort in search of a fish or two. I didn’t exactly set the fishing world on fire, but I had little trouble hooking into some of the many bream, trevally and flathead that abound around Couran Cove. All of these were caught on small hard-bodied lures and soft plastics fished on the exact set up I use to chase fish in my local waters on the NSW South Coast.

Notwithstanding my mediocre efforts, there is the potential for some extremely exciting fishing within a short cast of the resort. Couran Cove’s small marina is home to some solid mangrove jack. I fished for them one evening but, despite one solid hit, couldn’t raise a fish. They’re best targeted on dusk with medium-sized poppers and shallow-diving minnows.

The jetty pylons, pontoons and rock walls harbour lots of big bream. I got some little tackers but the monsters proved elusive. Another keen fisherman staying at the resort berleyed up a heap from his balcony using bread and managed to snare a couple of decent specimens on an unweighted rig (although I’m not certain if fishing from your room is strictly legal)! The same angler also caught a nice cod inside the marina on a squid head, and I spotted tarpon, baby sweetlip and at least one sizeable barracuda in the lagoon on which the resort sits.

The sandflats that face the Broadwater are reliable flathead haunts and I enjoyed a couple of productive early morning sessions spinning with shallow-diving minnows.

Of course, the Broadwater itself is right on your doorstep and can turn on incredible fishing for flatties, mulloway, whiting and even pelagics like mack tuna. Guests at Couran Cove can hire a tinny and basic fishing gear for $75 for three hours – and this is a fun way to explore this expansive system.

Nothing beats hooking up with a local, though, and I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of hours chasing mulloway and big flathead with Fisho writer David Green, who is lucky enough to live about 10 minutes’ boat ride away from the resort.

Greenie and I fished the deep, fast-flowing channel that separates North Stradbroke and South Stradbroke islands. Using seven-inch Berkley Gulp Jerkshads (in Pearl colour) on heavy jig heads we tried to jig up a jewie but to no avail. We did get some decent flatties, however, and Greeny catches swags of monster lizards in this area every season. I must admit, deep-jigging in 40-50 feet of fast-flowing water with big lures and medium-to heavy estuary tackle is far removed from the flathead fishing I’m accustomed to, but it was a real eye-opener and I owe David a beer for introducing me to this form of angling.

By the time Greenie dropped me back to the resort’s marina (which was very good of him), my wife and kids were already tucking into dinner at the poolside cafe/restaurant, having spent the afternoon swimming and bike riding. I doubt they even noticed I was gone!

And that’s what a family holiday at Couran Cove is all about. Regardless of whether your penchant is fishing, kayaking, bushwalking, swimming or cycling, there are so many ways to keep entertained. Conversely, it’s also a great place to do absolutely nothing!

The resort’s most outstanding feature is its close relationship with nature. Agile wallabies roam around, as do colourful blue-faced honeyeaters and a variety of skinks and frogs. Guests can partake in a range of eco-tours and the resort even has three resident koalas.

At the end of our five-day stay at Couran Cove, my whole family was happy, relaxed and sad to leave. More importantly, I had caught a few fish and didn’t have to spend
a single brownie point. In fact, I think
I earned a few!

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