Fishing is feral in the cape.

Darren Morgan with a nice emperor caught while fishing with Jim Borthwick from All Fed Up - Gone Fishing Weipa.

Darren Morgan with a nice emperor caught while fishing with Jim Borthwick from All Fed Up - Gone Fishing Weipa.

Let me say first that we are not talking the animal kingdom here we are talking of guys that have not been to the cape before, but get the chance to do what most of us dream of doing once in a lifetime.
On the first day we travelled from Cairns to the Wenlock River. Most of us had never been outside in the wide open spaces, most of us are land locked office monkeys fed on banana’s and wine and latt├ęs.
The banter on the UHF started from the moment we left from the Cape Yorker Head Quarters, and the jokes flowed from he who must not be named and many a laugh started the journey ahead. By mid morning the banter had stepped up a bit as I was the only one driving a slightly modified rodeo 4×4 – nicknamed the pig because of the incessant squeal that it made from the newly fitted belts.
All the modifications were done courtesy of TJM 4X4 Cairns. Fitted with my new suspension and the airtek snorkel, winch Bull bar, Dual battery, and a new set of tyres c/o cairns tyres the day before we left as we had a few issues with the tyres that I had fitted prior to arriving in cairns which made some unique noises when turning.
Dressed in our new Cape Yorker shirts, we headed for the Wenlock only to find that nobody had any idea how to set up the TentCots that had been supplied to us to tryout. After lots of expletives and banter on how it should be done, I had to step in to help out as it was getting very late and the cook was getting his usual scowl happening. On the first night we all were quite tired of sitting down and the dust was getting to us all much like the fluros in the offices that we had been working in.
After a good feed and a few fizzes and a good nights rest we headed for one of the most beautiful billabongs that I have seen only to be told of the 16 footer that lives in there, well I said lucky I bought my trusty Crocs Biscuit – a 3 metre Polycraft tender with a BLA minkota 55lb bow mount electric attached, charged and ready for action.
This fishing in the more remote billabongs is some of the best that you will find. Don’t forget that most of these are private land and that you must ask for permission prior to entering.
After climbing aboard the croc biscuit I headed for the northern end of the billabong seeing that there was a large patch of lillie pads and I new that the saratoga that I was chasing would more than likely be there. After motoring up very gently I put on one of Gary Sturdy’s lures and on the first cast a wallop came from nowhere as the lure landed just off the lillie pad that I was aiming at, not expecting a hit straight off I turned to see if the other guys where getting into gear and nearly fell from the boat.

Ian Drapier with an archer fish caught from the Wenlock River.

Ian Drapier with an archer fish caught from the Wenlock River.

P.s. its not a good thing to do in the billabongs where the crocs live in fact after landing a beautiful saratoga of nearly 4.5 kgs I had to sit down to gather my thoughts and make sure that I would not be that stupid again.
The next hour or so I managed another nice toga and a few tarpon and the odd pink eyed salmon as a buy catch, all returned unharmed for me to fish next time I am up that way (the way that I see fishing now is to make sure that I leave the place the same way that I have found it and It will be there for many others and myself to enjoy the hunt for that elusive fish either in size or species next time around).
After the morning fish it was time for breaky and a relax in the Wenlock river to recoup my thoughts for the afternoon fish and to gather more tackle for the next run.
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner I must say was always an interesting time with our cook a long-time serving army cook with 25 years in service and more jokes and innuendos than you could ever imagine.
While waiting for the arvo fish I decided to have a chat to Gazza about the fish in the Wenlock and to my amazement some 48 species inhabit this waterway. The waters are so clear in November that you can see some of the amazing fishi just cruising the banks looking for a feed so sight casting to them is no problem. This is when my mate Gazza piped up and said “why don’t you give fly-fishing a go”. Well I thought to myself why not. I can tell you that it was the best time I had fishing in the Wenlock learning to cast the fly even though I spent most of my time chasing the fly up trees in grass and occasionally hooking myself in the legs and rear end some of which are still to heal. I must say though it was great fun and kept me entertained for long periods of time and I will definitely buy a setup when I get back from the trip as I thoroughly enjoyed casting the wand as Gazza called it, mind you the double haul to get the line out had me stumped for a long time but I eventually got it.
In the afternoon fishing we got the chance to fish a smaller billabong with lots a cover and more lillie pads and the hit rate went up very sharply. In a matter of 20 to 30 minutes some 10 to 15 bumps were felt and the hook ups were nothing if not spectacular. I was using a little green frog that I was given by Anthony Gomes. We had some great fishing to finish off the day and then back to camp for a roast that was to die for and few fizzies to wash it down and a good nights sleep before packing up camp to move onto the next port of call – Weipa.

Some quality golden snapper came on board during the chaos.

Some quality golden snapper came on board during the chaos.

Fishing with our guide for the Weipa area some of us got the chance to get a great insight into some of the monsters of the deep from a man who knows where and when to fish. First we ran out to the reef for a spot of bottom bashing with squid and some fresh tuna that we managed along the way to the reef. We managed some great catches which included some red emperor, golden trevally, fingermark, a massive cod, and trevally. After 30 minutes or so it was time to move on.
After about 15 minutes or so we came upon a few schools of stripies, long tails and Spanish mackerel, where Jim quickly reset rigs and opted for slugs to fire in the direction of these marauding beasts. Muscles arched, arms burned and sweat poured from our brows, as the office workers got the workout of a lifetime. Cast after cast resulted in some of the most excruciating pain in arms and legs as we all found muscles we didn’t know existed.
Ian from TJM hadn’t caught one of these speed machines yet but in his last cast that landed 20ft from the boat a brute came past and took him for a long run after which he could hardly see from the sweat pouring his sunscreen into his eyes, but the look of satisfaction on the mans face was that he had finally got what he wanted an 8 kg long tail and a grin from ear to ear. We all had a great day with Jim Borthwick from All Fed Up -Gone Fishing and if you are ever in Weipa, do yourself a favour and go out for the day as you will have the time of your fishing life. He will make sure that all types are catered for from the novice to the pro fisherman after that elusive fish.
At the end of the day we all stayed at the Weipa caravan park. After setting up the camp we talked about the day we had and enjoyed a few brews to celebrate.
Everybody was happy that a feed of fresh fish was to be served for dinner as well as some sashimi, which I had never had before but again the cook showed what he was made of and made a magic meal from what we had brought home for the day.
I must admit that fresh is best and not one piece of fish from the day had been wasted.

By Darren Morgan

The 3 metre Tuff Tender all set up and ready for action.

The 3 metre Tuff Tender all set up and ready for action.