Cape York is about the size of the British Isles. That’s over 900 K’s from Cairns to the Tip. In between lies some of the most amazing country God ever created!
The variety of tropical woodlands, coastal flats and estuaries, swamps, sand dunes and dry timber country make it a real Jurassic Park, and how lucky are we to be in a positon to explore this fisherman's and hunters Valhalla!
Just before the close of the barra season a mate up Mossman way asked if my son Matthew and I if we would be interested in exploring some of the more remote country around Lockhart River, he even asked matt to bring his dogs along as the pig population was going berserk. You can imagine it only took a milli second to accept and within a week we had firmed up the timing and what gear we had to take along.
The first 10 hours of the trip went like clockwork with good roads and fair weather helping us along. Then the last 6 hours were sheer torture as road conditions resembled an assault course as we battled to average 20 K’s per hour.
But we did make it, all but one that is! Our mate had a slight accident as his fuel alighted on the tray via a loose battery and the lot went up in smoke. Luckily the two on board scrambled to safety before the inferno turned his truck into a melted mass - complete with aluminium boat now part of the rear frame, joined as one. This is rough country and it pays to take it slowly with at least two vehicles travelling together.
We arrived late that night in a beaut camp by the freshwater section of the river. By early morning we were launching our boats from a huge sandbar much further downstream, just raring to go and see if the local fish population wanted to come out and play.
It was really shallow as we battled our way down towards the mouth. Using F1.11’s and Flatjacks we cast to the deeper gutters along the rivers edge and tempted a few jacks, fingermark and queenies. Nothing special but encouraging all the same. When we reached the mouth the tide was quite well in and it was game on!
Big mobs of queenies and trevally swirled around our boat, some XOS models amongst them too. Poppers were tied on quick smart and within a couple of casts Matt & I were both hooked up to metre plus queenies. Wow do these thugs pull and gave us heaps on medium to light spin gear. J
umping all over the place these speedsters do turn it on and we had over an hours non stop action before the bite eased up.
Time to make our way back upstream for the first hour of the runout! Using soft plastics such as Zerek Prawns, Jelly Prawns and Z Man's we plied snag ridden gutters and tree lined banks slowly letting the plastics sink before slow winding them back. We scored a few hungry, smaller barras, jacks and even a couple of kilo and a half flatheads.
Steady but not as good as we were expecting. It was time to head back as Matt wanted to give his dogs a run and see if the pigs were ready to party.
His first session was a success with 6 pigs taken in less than 1 ½ hours. The other lads had a similar result. No mega boars but up to around 55 kilos which is quite decent I guess. Myself and a few of the others went for a tub in the freshwater with a cold beer - nice!
Next day we ventured through the bush to a saltwater hole behind a cabbage palm forest. It was surreal to see barra over a metre long patrolling the edges of the far bank, and frustrating to realise that a cast of 15 to 20 metres was needed to get even close to them.
I stayed with the video camera as Matt and the lads gave chase casting heavier shallow hardbodies to try and tempt these big critters. It didn’t take long as Kiwi latched on to a monster, then Matt hooked up a similar size fish on the far bank!
Pandemonium broke out as these guys tried to stop these big barra from finding rockbars and weedbeds. Acrobatic barra were doing their stuff up and down this hole and the boys did a top job keeping gentle pressure on them. It made for some brilliant video footage and I was just as excited as them!
At length they both held out and netted fish from 112 to 115 cms which were quickly photographed then released. The action continued with smaller fish to 85cms for the next hour or so as the bite subsided. Phew! I’ll never forget that place and those metreys.
It was going to be hard to beat that, but Matt and I had a last day on another stretch of the river where we almost did! Pulling our way through wall to wall mangroves we arrives at fish heaven taking jacks to 1.8 kilos on Super Shad deep diving suspending minnows, fingermark to 2 kilos, barra to 4 kilos and queenies from the snags to 7 kilos.
We even caught mudcrabs in our landing net in the sandbar shallows near the river mouth! That was something special and you can see the footage on Bransfords Facebook page if you don’t believe it!
The popper bite from Queenies and GT’s was incredible as Matt and I had a two hour session we will long remember. My best was a 10.5 kilo Queenie and Matt had several over 7 kilos. Unreal action in our Jurassic Park, the photos tell the story.
One day we will return to that Fish Heaven, or as Matt says Fish & Pig heaven! Places like this do exist on Cape York, which to my mind is the worlds best Sportfishing Paradise.