Fly Fishing Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia, Part 4

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Fly Fishing Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia, Part 4

Post by Piscisfly » Sun Jul 19, 2015 7:47 pm

Part 4 – Day 3 Fishing

For the third consecutive day, we headed in a different direction as we cleared the Urangan Marina, this time heading right, into the Great Sandy Straits. The Straits, as it is referred to locally, is a highly tidal body of water that separates Fraser Island from the Australian Mainland. Looking out into the Coral Sea there was a sizable chop clearly visible on the horizon, so the Straits would offer some shelter while the morning southwesterly eased off.

Andrew pulled up the boat at the northern end of Little Woody Island, one of a number of islands in the Straits. There was a strong current ripping past the rocky point on the incoming tide, and it was here we fished for a couple of hours without even a touch. Andrew said this was typically a good spot for Queenfish, Mackerel, and small Trevallies, but obviously not today!

As we fished, the tide rose rapidly and water inundated the sand flats on the east side of the Island. Once there was enough depth we headed over to look for a Golden Trevally. Golden Trevally (Goldies) are an Australian icon and Hervey Bay was the first place in Australia where fly fishing for these attractive fish really took off, and it is still recognised as one of the best places to sight cast to large Goldies in shallow water.

It wasn’t long before we saw the first fish. It wasn’t a Goldie however, but a large Shovel Nose Ray. At first glance it looked like a shark, in fact the rear part of this fish is identical to a shark, but the front is flattened like a ray. Andrew said that Goldies will often shadow Sting Rays and Shovel Nose Rays, allowing them to ambush unsuspecting baitfish. Unfortunately there were no Goldies shadowing this particular ray. Moving along quietly under the power of the bow-mounted electric motor we saw a number of Shovel Nose and Sting Rays of various sizes but no Goldies. The first Goldie we say was following a medium sized Stingray, but some poor casting, combined with a too large fly (3/0 Chartreuse and White Clouser), meant the Ray and the Goldie spooked and headed for deep water at a great rate of knots.

While the 10wgt Rio Outbound Short is a great line for Tuna, enabling fast and long casts, it is definitely not a finesse line! It took great amounts of effort to place the line on the water without looking like a Mini had been dropped from a great height. After a short time I was able to place the line down fairly gently, but still wished I had changed the line to the Outbound, or a standard weight forward taper.

We continued along to the southern end of the island, seeing only Rays and a large Mudcrab, and catching nothing more than a few squid. While we weren’t catching any fish, we were certainly entertained (well I was anyway). Chew made the mistake of lifting the first squid out of the water too soon after hooking it, and the squid responded to the stress by squirting ink as its defence mechanism. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue but as the squid was partially out of the water, it shot a jet of ink a decent metre and a half, straight at both Andrew and Chew! It was a large squid so had a lot of ink, and the boys were doing their best to avoid the jet black ink, to no avail. Safe up the front of the boat, it was the funniest thing I had seen for a long time. There’s nothing like laughing at someone elses misfortune……

A large area of stirred up sand indicated something was up, and Andrew said it was probably a school of Golden Trevally sifting through the bottom for yabbies and small crabs. Soon after we were caught by surprise as a school of roughly a dozen young Goldies suddenly appeared near the boat. Unfortunately they were too close and spooked almost the same time we saw them – damnit!

Thankfully that wasn’t the last we saw of that species. A dark sting ray, in less than a metre of water, had a Trevally sitting less than half a metre behind as they cruised slowly along the flats. Chew put in a good cast with a clouser and the Trevally looked like it was going to eat it as it peeled off from the ray, but unfortunately it didn’t like the look of the clouser and turned and headed back to swimming just behind the ray. I put a cast out well ahead of the duo, allowing the size 2 Tan Spawning Shrimp to sink to the bottom. As they got closer I stripped slowly and was pleased to see the Trevally shoot ahead and nail the fly, a strip strike and I was hooked up! Andrew called it for a small Giant Trevally as it peeled line on its first run. Like all Trevally, it gave a good account of itself in spite of its small size, even against the Xi3 10wgt. The 8wgt would have been better matched, but Golden Trevally encountered on the flats can often exceed 25lb, and that is too big a Trevally for an 8wgt! As I got the fish closer to the boat, we realised it was a nice little Goldie, its bright yellow fins clearly visible in the autumn sun. I was pretty stoked as Andrew tailed the Goldie. I had caught plenty of Golden Trevally in Weipa, but none of them were sight-cast, so this fish was pretty special.

My Golden Trevally was to be our only fish from our short stint on the flats, apart from the baby Longfin Trevally Chew caught off the back of a 10 foot long Dugong. By time we had lunch the wind had dropped away to almost nothing, so we bolted out into the Coral Sea to look for a Tuna. As we motored along the wind disappeared completely and the sea glassed out. Pretty quickly Chew nailed a really nice Mack Tuna on spin gear, and that was to be our lot for the day.

I was surprised we hadn’t seen any turtles in our first two days fishing, but the afternoon of our third day more than made up for it. They were everywhere! In the mirror calm sea they were visible, and audible, from nearly a hundred metres away as they came to the surface to breathe. There were plenty of Tuna around too, but well spread and very difficult to approach in the calm conditions. We spent nearly 4 hours on them, getting thoroughly frustrated, and didn’t have any hits, either spinning or on the fly.

The ride back to the marina was the smoothest of the three days, but there wasn’t the level of satisfaction we had experienced on the first two days, although I had achieved a personal fly rod first for the third day in a row.

Part 5, Days 4 and 5 fishing to follow.
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