Weipa deep secrets
  |  First Published: October 2016

Bottom bashing is an old form of fishing from way back in the day. Whether you’re using lures or bait, if the depth of water is deep or shallow, this form can be deadly on a wide variety of species. The tropical Western Cape York in Queensland is basically a giant fish-rich bay. A huge variety of species can be found, including mackerel, tuna, golden snapper, tuskfish, black jew and many more exceptional sport and table fish. All can be caught in abundance on the shallow and deep reefs.

Lately, I’ve been trying my luck with a lot of bottom fishing and have tried both lures and bait. For bait, just about anything will do the trick in these waters – squid, prawns, or my personal favourite – crabs. Lure fishing requires more technique and skill. The correct lure can sometimes be hard to pinpoint depending on the depth of the area, the amount of current, food sources and the species of fish you’re targeting.

One of my favourite ways of fishing on the reef or around structure is using micro and flutter jigs, which can have amazing results. At first, I was unsure about this form of fishing. After trying it on several occasions, I can proudly say it works deadly on many predatory fish. Just about anything that will eat a baitfish will eat a jig.

We’ve been catching big black jewies, golden snapper and trevally on micro-jigs and flutters. Vicious mackerel have reduced our stock of jigs to a couple chewed blocks of lead. Gomoku Koika jigs have a great action and can be worked over the bottom with deadly effect. They come from just 20g to well over 80g, so always have a couple in your tackle box when heading out to fish the reef. If jig fishing is not your thing, large soft plastics and even vibes can have similar results. Just have your lure down near the bottom, for as long as possible.

The Channel Markers of Weipa can have seen some pretty extraordinary fish at times. As well as big golden snapper, these beacons are known as a place where mega giant trevally can be caught. Dad and I went on a half-day trip to these beacons, and fished with just Gomoku jigs and Storm plastics.

We cleaned up nice fish, landed some tuna and school mackerel from a mixed bait ball, had a shot at a nice tripletail and got dusted on the pylons by a big cobia. On top of all this, we hooked some impressive broad barred mackerel at 6-8kg and got bitten off a few times too many. At the end of the day, we had a good feed of fish. I can’t complain.

On one of the cape trips Dad returned from, he fished many creeks and rivers from Weipa, nearly to the tip. He’d taken a few packets of Storm So-Run plastics with him. Sadly, few returned after being bitten of by mackerel or cut off on the snags and structure by big fish. The fish he managed to get to the boat included barra, big jacks and massive queenfish, just to name a few.

These plastics come in many shapes, sizes and colours. The paddle-tail version creates a lot of vibration. It’s good for bigger fish and dirty water conditions. There are also curly-tailed versions, which have more finesse and don’t create as much of a commotion. Both come in many colours. My all-time favourite is motor oil.

Fishing the bottom with bait or lures requires no small amount of skill. Many species, especially those like jacks and tuskies, are dirty fighters. They’ll drill you into the bottom any chance they get. To land these fish, always make sure you have quality tackle. A failure in the system could cost you the fish of a lifetime. You need to know a lot about tides and currents, and the best biting times of certain species. Remember size and bag limits – always seek local knowledge.

As always, think like a fish!


A nice broad-barred mackerel caught on a Gomoku Koika micro jig.

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