It was an early start today for fishing sandbanks, the day is one of those perfect dawns with the passage like a mirror in the warm morning air. Cuppa tea in hand, Harley and I headed up the still waters to check the crab pots. The geology of the passage is channels and shoals, at high tide most of the shoals have over a meter of water covering them, as the tide shifts these protrude leaving perfect flathead fishing platforms back into the six meter deep channels. The channels are quite narrow in places and the shoals are sometimes sand flats and sometimes mud flats, making a perfect environment for feeding flathead and for crabs, mud crabs specifically. We try to place the pots on the edges of the mud flats, and near creek entrances and mangrove flats.
A couple of pots had crabs in them either undersized or female, neither of which we can keep in Queensland. We repositioned our pots and headed back to have breakfast and prepare for fishing for the day. In the morning we fished from the bank by the camp site and as the tide went out revealing the sand banks, I took the girls to the other side of the channel, opposite the camp site to fish back for flathead, this was unproductive and although we had a few bites nothing since this mornings small mosses perch and a tiny bream.
The morning was moving on, a maze of shoals and channels very apparent when we all piled in the boat to headed North to see if there was better fishing outside someone else’s door. The answer was no not at all, just some lack luster bites by small fish teasing us. We ended the morning sitting up to our waste in the sea ,on a disappearing sandbank at the extremity of the fishing area, baking in the hot sun trying desperately to lure something, anything on to our lines. After an hour there was still nothing to get excited about, our beer had run out, so we decided to head back to camp via the crab pots for lunch. Dreams of filling the new crab saucepan that the girls had given Al for her birthday with a couple of very large mud crabs for lunch dissipated to disappointment as we hauled in each pot, a touch of excitement rippled through us all, followed by the realization the only prize is a poor undersized muddy .
The campsite was extremely hot, it felt like the bush out west, we found some shade on the retreating beach, cooled by the sea and a breeze. Time for some rest, reflection and a little Tom foolery as we ate ham sandwiches for lunch and drank a few more beers, With the tide now well on its way in it was time to challenge the fish again, crossing the passage from the camp site we hit a few spots drifting south. It was getting late in the afternoon and our resolve probably not as strong as this morning, Harley caught a 650 gram bream, definitely a keeper and I caught one that mummy shouldn’t have let out to play.
Sun setting we moved to our last place to fish tonight. Charlie at the helm, I had trawled while we moved between the locations, as she cut the motor I was aware my line was pulling tight. I thought I had snagged, and while the boat shifted on the anchor Charlie leaned over to clear my line from the prop shaft. The line responded, not the sign of a snag, yet the pressure on the line felt like a snag, except snags don’t take rests. With enormous strain on the rig I could reel it in, just as it was at breaking point I would have to let it run again. Then it all went limp, the line reeled in and the trace was intact, only missing the bait. We suspect I had a kind of sting ray on my line, they are prolific in these waters..
It was getting to dark to fish and our battery was flat on the navigation lights so we headed home to have Harley’s keeper as a Thai style entrée and canned stew again for dinner.