By Mark Bargenquast.
How many fisho’s have dreams about the big trip north, pick up any magazine and usually there’s a glossy article with pics of tuna, trevally, barra, jacks etc. It really gets the blood pumping! Even for me living in Hervey Bay where the fishing really isn’t all that bad.
The last 5 years I have been fortunate enough to guide through wintertime (and do a bit of fishing myself) with Alan Philiskirk and his crew at “fish’s fly and sportfishing” based in weipa. The township of Weipa is based on a bauxite mining operation run by Rio Tinto Alcan group and is based on the western side of cape York about 250 km south of the tip, the population is about 3000 people with a great caravan park, numerous accommodation facalities, and several guided fishing operations working the area. Hire boats are also available from the caravan park.
Although driving to Weipa is an option, there’s 600 km of very corrugated dirt roads when cutting across the cape from cairns and any boat trailer that is even remotely understrength will fail, broken springs, frames and damaged boats are common when the tourist season opens.
Flights into Weipa are all ex-cairns and take around 1hr 45 minutes and unless you have time and plenty of preparation to drive in I would strongly recommend flying and getting a guide for a week. OK with that sorted now the fishing.
Weipa is located on the mouth of the Embley and Mission river mouth which run into albatross bay, the bay is fed by 5 river systems the Embley, Hay ,Mission, Pine and Nomanade and these are good sized rivers so there’s plenty of estuary options, major species are barra, jacks ,fingermark, threadfin and blue salmon. Offshore fishing is excellent with longtail tuna, various trevally species, Spanish mackerel, cobia sailfish and black marlin.
Big fingermark, black jew, cod, coral trout and emperors are also available on the reefs, the species list is really endless. Tackle really depends on what species or style of fishing you prefer. Saltwater fly anglers generally use 8-10 weight outfits with intermediate or sink tip lines, 20 pound tippet and a selecton of flies with white clousers a good allrounder. Permit, Blue bastards and milkfish are here as well so a few specialty flies are a good idea.
Offshore fishing a couple of quality spin outfits like a 50 pound Saltiga or Saltist outfit for casting for big GT, Spaniards and cobia and a lighter 20-30 pound outfit for throwing poppers at queenies, tunas, trevally and even beach barras and salmon.
Estuary lure fishing is really baitcaster country with a good rod like a Daiwa TD Commander tough ombre or a generation black beefstick is perfect, 20-30 pound braid is recommended even though the barras aren’t big some good sized jacks, fingermark and the ever present juvenile grouper (10-20kg) are present on most rockbars or snags! These can be a real handful on light tackle.
The wet season runs from November to the end of March and although the township doesn’t stop due to mining operations is devoid of tourists, wintertime is by far the best time to be up here with way better weather patterns, temperatures of 20-30 degrees average (it can get freezing at 17 degrees occasionally) early morning!