I have said many times before that Mackay is blessed with such a vast and diverse array of fishing options, however a clear personal favourite is beginning to emerge with me. It does makes me wonder why sometimes. When I stop and think about it, it surely is the most gruelling and physically exhausting form of fishing that there can be. Not only that, there are many occasions that end in donuts, or at best, a very small quantity of small to medium sized fish.
The fish encountered whilst walking for miles up a meandering rainforest stream aren’t usually massive but it is so much more than that for me. This is one form of the sport where size does not matter and it is the thrill of the hunt whilst walking up a freshwater creek that has seen very little or zero fishing pressure which gets my blood pumping.
This is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea and you need a reasonable degree of fitness and stamina to even contemplate doing this, but there is certainly something special when you come across a magnificent sweet-water waterhole that you have identified via Google Maps/Google Earth. Some of these locations would have been put in the “too hard basket” by many individuals, but in my opinion, the harder they are to get to and the more strenuous the journey, the more they appeal to me. Often they are more scenic and certainly fish better also.
Over the last couple of years I have walked dozens of kilometres of creek bed and spent hundreds of dollars on fuel travelling north and south of Mackay and to me, this is certainly time and money well spent. I have now identified the best waterholes in a given stretch of creek and can now focus primarily on these spots rather than searching up and downstream.
Often a light spin rod and reel combo plus a small tray or two of assorted lures are that is required. I often run my Stella 2500FI with a 2-5kg stick for general purpose sooty grunter and tarpon etc, however if I am walking downstream reaches where I know sweetwater mangrove jack and barramundi are prevalent, then I will take my Stella 3000FE with a 3-6kg rod. Anyone who has used either of these reels before will know that either are an absolute pleasure to use.
I find the best time of year to walk these creeks/rivers are the months of October and November prior to any of the wet season rains. Most of these fish will be isolated and also very hungry due to the dry conditions at this time of year. The warm weather also fires them up....however one of the main reasons I like to walk the creeks at this time of year is because the water level is low and in essence, this allows you walk up the creek bed or shallowly inundated edges rather than the steep/vegetated banks which can be extremely difficult, if not, impossible.
I know it can be hard sometimes, but it is very important to pack as light as you can. I often travel around 10-12 kilometres in a day, and an extra couple of kilo’s in your backpack can make a massive difference at the end of the day. Also, take plenty of fresh water, small snacks like muesli bars or trail mix, a snake bandage, a field knife for general safety and a waterproof case for your mobile phone. Despite the fact I do a lot of these trips solo, I strongly advise doing this with a mate, purely for safety reasons. After all, you don’t want to be bitten by a snake miles from your vehicle and in an area with poor phone reception. An important thing worth noting is to dial “112” in an emergency from your mobile phone. Carriers will combine in areas of poor service/reception and will connect you to emergency services.
As mentioned earlier, this form of fishing is certainly not for everyone but I revel in it. I even get a weird “Man Vs Wild” kind of sensation.
I have caught barramundi to 74cm and mangrove jack to 55cm in skinny water less than a metre deep and on light spin gear. These fish have often been sight-casted and to me personally, there is nothing more rewarding.
Live It....Breathe It....