With Christmas holidays in full swing, many people are starting to look forward to catching up with friends and loading up the family four wheel drive to take off on the annual camping trip up the beach. With the Queensland camping experience comes the swarms of march flies, roaring campfires, sizzling snags, fantastic scenery and of course the most fabulous of beach fishing.
Summer time on the beach brings a variety of fish species to our beaches such as dart, bream, mackerel, jew fish, the odd tailor and the big summer whiting. Just like all types of fishing you need to look for the structure that's luring in and appealing to the fish. With beach fishing you don't need any fancy electronics such as depth sounders or GPS to find the fish just a good pair of polarised sunglasses and a keen eye. The key structure and most common on our beaches are long gutters formed by the swell and water runoff. The key things to look for in a gutter are deep water with plenty of movement, signs of bait such as diving birds, bait fish in the surf or pipis on the beach, visual sightings of fish riding or moving through the waves and any extra structure such as exposed rocks.
When fishing in the surf you want to be able to cast your bait as far out as possible or into that ideal gutter and the best way to do that is to use a surf rod. The extra length in the rod helps you cast much further than your conventional estuary rod and it keeps your line nice and high off the water which allows you to feel the bites due to less white water washing your line around. Alvey reels are ideal in the surf. You can cast further with them, they're easy to service and less prone to corrosion making them ideal in the surf. Spin Reels are also Quite popular in the surf because of their long casting abilities whoever they are much more prone to corrosion and seizing so be prepared to spend a bit of time servicing them.
Beach fishing can be challenging due to the swell washing your bait around gutter. The best way to keep your bait in one spot is to use a star sinker with a paternoster rig and a surf sinker with your conventional running sinker rig. These types of sinkers allow your bait to stay out in the gutter in the strike zone and not get washed back to your feet by the waves. Having your bait anchored in the one spot has many advantages it will help you keep your line tight which in turn will allow you to feel more bites increasing your hook up rate.
Bait wise there are a few baits that stand above the rest depending on what you are chasing. If you after whiting, dart or bream you can't go past lives sand worms or pipis. Worms and pipis are a staple food source for most coastal species and can be caught fresh from the beach but best of they are a tough bait which can withstand the powerful swell. For your other beach species that prefer a flesh bait the humble pilchard is a winner especially for tailor, mackerel and the odd jewfish however pilchards do tend to soften up a bit when being thrashed around in the surf. This is where strip baits such as mullet or bonito work wonders they provide a strong oily scent and are very tough.
For those who own a 4x4, beach driving can be quite challenging and dangerous if driving carelessly but with a bit of knowledge it can be very enjoyable. Firstly, before you have even reached the beach, remember to check the tides. If you can plan our drive around the low tide, it will be much easier on your car and less time consuming. When driving on the beach the most important rule of thumb is tyre pressure it can be the difference between spending your day digging your bogged 4w4 out of the sand or fishing your favourite gutter for that cracker whiting. At some time you will have to drive through soft sand whether it be a small soft patch or a beach cutting. When driving a soft patch of sand make sure to keep your revs up, drive in a previous track or ruts were the sand has already been compressed, don't steer against the ruts because doing so will only slow you down and most important factor is to keep up your momentum the second you stop in soft sand can result in a bogging. When driving on the beach always check with your local national parks about camping permits, driving permits and any fire restrictions that are in place to ensure that you have trouble free time.
Talking tackle: Surf Rods
Surf Rods are a essential part of beach fishing they give you many advantages over shorter rods, such as casting distance and line clearance in the swell. The Wilson range of surf rods have been around for decades and they offer a wide selection of surf rods that range in price and quality. Their live fibre range is nothing but excellent quality with a graphite blanks that are sensitive enough to let you feel even the slightest of bites but at the same time give you that confidence to lean right back to slow down a big jew. They weigh next to nothing so you can hang onto them all day without having the sore shoulders and back at the end of the day. They retail for around the $200 mark so if you are someone who spends a lot time knee deep in the water and demand a quality surf rod - you can't go past a Wilson Live Fibre surf rod.
Jake Junior fished Mudjimba North Shore for tailor with his dad and returned with this nice tailor.
Danny does it again with a trip offshore to the Gneerings for these sweetlip on WorkEm plastics.
Ross with a one piece Wilson Live Fibre surf rod which is a winner for summer whiting at Teewah.