Estuary stealth missions with the Kayak Fish 1770 crew…
Most hopeless fishing addicts have a handful of go-to locations that they keep returning to. Proven spots with a track record of turning up quality fish.
Like a little black book with a (potentially embellished) record of fruitful rendezvous long past.
The central Queensland coast is high up on the list for me. A well-known rock ledge near the town of Seventeen Seventy has been the backdrop to many standout sessions.
When the place is on, it’s on. I’ve caught some of my PB fish there, and have seen some seriously crazy encounters with all manner of big, tough pelagic species.
By the same token, when the current, tides, air pressure or any virtually unknowable combination of variables are off, the place can really shut down. Like, can’t turn a reel all day sort of dead.
Someone smart once claimed that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.
Early on day three of a recent fishing trip to the area, the penny dropped. We’d been spinning lures from the rocks for over two full days, hoping to snag a passing longtail tuna or Spanish mack. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of casts for naught. Insanity.
Time for Plan B. Luckily, just behind the headland we were spinning from is the mouth of one of the healthiest, most diverse and fish-rich estuary systems on the east coast.
There are a handful of smaller creeks in the national parks north and south, but if you’re staying in Seventeen Seventy or Agnes Water, Round Hill Creek is the main waterway of interest.
It’s a cracker of a system to fish, as not only are the boat ramp, parking and marina facilities top notch, there are also plenty of fishy options on tap pretty much year round.
This part of the coast seems to mark the confluence between temperate southeast Queensland and the tropics proper, at least in terms of the types of fish on offer.
Dusky flathead and whiting are both staple catches and viable targets for most of the year. The warmer summer and autumn months are when tropical species like grunter, mangrove jack and barramundi are known to go on the chew.
The creek opens up into quite deep water, so when the bait is present, mackerel, queenfish, GTs and other pelagic species will venture into the shallows in search of an easy feed. They’re usually more than happy to slam any lures they come across, and can turn on some epic fights when hooked on light estuary tackle.
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE – KAYAK FISH 1770
As when fishing any unfamiliar waterway, a bit of local knowledge goes a long, long way. When deciding to turn our attention to fishing the creek, I reached out to local Scott Hornby who runs a kayak fishing charter business called Kayak Fish 1770 and has been putting visitors onto fish in these waters for years.
Scott agreed to help us out on short notice and met us at the ramp the following afternoon along with his son Ethan who’s also a mad keen fisho, knows these waters as well as anyone and helps out guiding tour groups.
Forget whatever you thought you knew about fishing out of kayaks. The fleet of Hobie Pro Angler ‘yaks that Scott’s running would have to be just about the ideal estuary fishing platforms.
They’re wide and stable, 14 foot long with plenty of storage, fitted out with comfortable chairs, stacks of rod holders, individual iceboxes and plenty of dry storage.
All rods, reels, lures and other fishing gear is provided. Oh, and each ‘yak is fitted with a customised short shaft electric motor that totally negates the need for paddle power and brings this style of fishing into a league of its own.
The electric motors scoot the Hobies along at a decent clip, perfect for covering ground and exploring the estuary.
Out of the gates, we cruised along at half speed and dropped back some little deep-diving minnows to troll along the edges of drop-offs, sand flats, mud banks and rock bars that our guide Ethan pointed out.
We alternated between trolling divers and casting soft plastics at structure and didn’t have to wait long at all before the hook-ups began.
We opened our account with a nice grunter or javelin fish taken on the troll. It was released after a couple of quick pics, and another carbon copy was hooked up moments later.
In an action packed hour, we scored grunter, Moses perch, flathead and estuary cod, interspersed with a couple of big hits that managed to evade capture.
As our session wound down, we pulled up against a shallow sand flat where Ethan pointed out a pack of whiting herding up jelly prawns against the shoreline.
After tying on tiny stickbaits to our light casting outfits, we managed to add whiting on surface lures to the trip tally of captures.
The way these silver bullets hunt down surface lures in packs and aggressively strike off the surface is pretty amazing. It’s reminiscent of the way GTs will compete to smash lures retrieved over shallow reef, and on tuned-down, ultra light tackle, it’s seriously fun fishing.
I’d never experienced much success fishing from kayaks in the past, so didn’t know exactly what to expect. After getting out on the water with the Kayak Fish 1770 crew, I’m converted.
Fishing out of ultra comfortable, well equipped ‘yaks, and armed with expert local knowledge makes all the difference.
Scott runs two-hour guided sessions in the mornings and afternoons from the boat ramp in Round Hill Creek for just $75 per angler. Longer, customised tours can be arranged too. All gear is provided, just show up and start catching fish. Doesn’t get much easier than that!
KAYAK FISH 1770
Private, small group fishing sessions for up to three customers fishing on Hobie Pro Angler 14 kayaks.
TARGET: Grunter, flathead, bream, whiting, cod, GTs and queenfish. Mangrove jack and barramundi can be targeted on longer, customised tours.
COST: $75 per person for two-hour guided sessions run in the mornings and afternoons.
CONTACT: Scott Hornby
PHONE: 0498 478 232