Cape York: Boatless and bank bound

I WAS a bit disappointed this year. While I was heading north for the winter, it wouldn’t be with a boat in tow. The good news is, as it turned out, being bank bound opened up some incredible fishing opportunities.

I had picked up a trailer in Central Queensland loaded with gear for my job on Cape York. One of the pieces of gear on the trailer was a quad bike to be used on the farm for many duties. It also ended up proving to be one of the best methods of travelling remote Cape York beaches fishing river and creek mouths on a falling tide.

Arriving at the station on Cape York, my first day was spent unpacking before I took the quad down to inspect the river which forms the border of the property.

Fighting my way through the jungle like growth I broke through to a more angler friendly bank, although it was lined with numerous paper bark trees, the jungle like growth finished back on top of the river bank.

My excitement level increased when I saw this clear flowing stream free of the vines and grasses. I couldn’t wait to get back here to have a flick for a fish; it certainly was a case of love at first sight! 

The fishing gear I had packed consisted of a few compact travel rods, both spin and bait caster. These would fit in a back pack easily and allow me to access some pretty wild country.

I also packed a few fly rods, but the jungle growth on top of the river bank meant fly fishing in most parts would be restricted to bow and arrow casts or dabbing.

My first chance for a fish was late one afternoon after work. I had my back pack filled with lures and soft plastics and my Okuma Cerros medium light travel rod matched with an Okuma Helios SX 20 spin reel. It was loaded with a light braid with a rod length of fluorocarbon leader.

Now back at the river, I poked the rod between the trees and flicked the soft plastic across to the other bank and let it sink. Before it hit the bottom the line tore off downstream as a chunky archer fish had grabbed the plastic.

Being bank bound was to be a blessing in disguise. Over the next couple for months I was to catch fish every time I managed to get back to the river.

The river abounded in barra, ox eye herring, archer fish, eel and fork tail catfish along with the little rainbow fish and purple spotted gudgeon.

Now I was glad that I was boatless as being forced to fish off the bank meant I got to explore and fish close to 20kms of river running through private property. The quality of the fishing ranks up there with the best I have ever experienced, and the locals tell me that now is the quiet time!

With a weekend off, the quad bikes were loaded onto the trailer and we headed to the coast at Princess Charlotte Bay.

The quad bikes were used to access the creeks and river mouths along the beaches that are laid bare at low tide.

The fishing here again was incredible. Our first afternoon on arrival saw us fishing the last of the run-out tide. Barra boofed baitfish in a frenzy in front of where we stood. The rolling breakers of the ocean were literally a couple of hundred metres behind us.

Over the next couple of days we were to catch barra, mangrove jack, flathead and queenfish.

The mud crabs were also plentiful and easy to secure a feed.

Low tide also laid the rocks bare which were adorned with the big black lipped oysters.

A good lesson learnt; don’t be jealous of people in boats, you may be missing some great fishing found right at your feet!

I certainly gave thanks that I was boatless, numerous times!

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