Editor’s Note: A big thanks to BD member, Coldtuna, for sharing this amazing report in the Bloodydecks forum. Nice job! We are envious.
I visited Weipa in Northern Queensland Australia recently as part of a trip to Australia. Weipa is a mining town located on the west coast of Northern Queensland and sits at the mouth of an estuary system that pours into the ocean (think something similar to Venice, LA but smaller river systems). Once in Australia, Weipa is easy to get to and is only a 90 minute flight from Cairns.
In Weipa, you spend the night in a hotel and depart from the Weipa marina each morning. I fished with Weipa Sportfishing (http://www.weipasportsfishing.com.au) and fished with three of their guides (Josh, Jack and company owner/guide Lee Hodgetts).
There are a wide variety of fishing options in Weipa from fishing in the river/creeks for barramundi and other inshore species to chasing various species in bluewater (giant trevally, golden trevally, cobia, queenfish, etc.).
I won’t provide a day by day account, but will provide a few pictures to provide some examples of the species and size of fish one can catch, as well as a few highlights. I did not chase the barramundi much, but other boats focusing on Barra were getting up to 100 per day with the big fish for the day in the 80-90 centimeter class, and most in the 50-60 centimeter class.
I caught a bunch of queenfish the first few days, with most in the smaller 50-60 centimeter class, but a few in the 80 centimeter range. Once they get above the smallest size, they pull some drag on the light tackle provided by Weipa Sportfishing and are a ton of fun. I missed several of the “meter plus” queenfish the first two days on topwater, but the takes were spectacular. I did finally catch two of the “meter plus” size queenfish later in the trip (biggest at a “meter twenty”), and both on topwater.
These are a great gamefish and someone said that if this species were available in the USA, it might well be the most popular gamefish in the world. I would tend to agree. Queenfish readily take lures, fight hard and make spectacular jumps. Lot of fun. When they are biting in Weipa, I am told an angler can catch 50-100 of the “meter plus” size in a day on topwater .
When we headed offshore to fish the shallow underwater seamounts, we caught a variety of species off of reefs in about 60 feet of water. The most effective technique was dropping down a lead head jig with a 5-6” Berkeley Gulp tail and aggressively hopping it up and down. They call this technique “soft plastics” in Australia, or “plackies.”
Strikes were vicious and you never knew what you might hook – fingermark, giant trevally, brassie trevally, golden trevally, bludger trevally, queenfish, one of several types of cod, queenfish, or ???. This style of fishing was lots of fun and I had numerous hookups on a variety of species, all of which pull hard.
After fishing the shallow offshore reefs in the morning, we’d chase long tail tuna in the afternoon. These tuna would pop up as the morning wore on and really got going one afternoon with numerous schools of longtails working under the birds and blowing up on hapless bait schools on the surface. To catch these, the guide would run up on a school busting on top and the angler would make a long cast on light spinning tackle into the melee with a “slug.” A “slug” is a metal lure like a spoon that wiggles just below the surface when reeled quickly.
One day we really got on this bite well and landed 12 tuna (five “mac tuna” which look like a type of skipjack I have seen in the Gulf of Mexico and off of Baja and the Mexican mainland, and seven of the more prized Longtail tuna). You often could see the pack of tuna chasing your “slug” before they exploded on it, and if one hit it and the hook did not stick, another would often slam it. We were using 20# class light spinning combos to catch these tuna and when hooked, they often took off on a nice first run burning the drag and putting a deep bend in the light rod. Tons and tons of fun on light tackle.
One day fishing for long tail tuna, we had a black marlin chase the tuna to the boat and eat it right next to the boat in an explosion of white water as it came from under the boat to crush the longtail. I hooked the 200-pound class black marlin and fought it for 45 minutes before the 20# spectra broke. Super cool to see that small black engulf the longtail tuna boat side in 50 feet of clear blue water.
If you are in Australia and have a chance to go to Weipa, Lee Hodgetts and his guides are outstanding. They love to be on the water and work hard to put their clients on the fish. All are fun to spend the day with and are enthusiastic and excellent anglers. Prices are reasonable and everything is top notch. You can contact Lee through their website (http://www.weipasportsfishing.com.au), and he is very good about responding to inquiries in a timely way. These guys also organize and guide live aboard charters to more remote portions of northern Queensland and those trips sound insane. Thanks to Lee, Josh and Jack for a great time. I hope to be back to Weipa again fishing with them soon.