Australia’s Top Ten Drive In Fishing Spots – Pt 2

Last month in part one of the ‘All Aussie Top 10’ article, we looked at the first three easy to access, drive to, fishing destinations. These were Borumba Dam, a pristine saratoga and bass wonderland just an hour from the Sunshine Coast, Tin Can Bay and Hervey Bay – easily accessible saltwater playgrounds offering all manner of fishing opportunities and finally Queensland’s glorious Whitsundays. As well as being one of the nations and the world’s premier tourist destinations, the Whitsunday region also offers anglers a diverse range of fishing experiences. For a recap on these destinations you can look back through the Kaydo archives.
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The road north … Drive in fishing trips are one of the most exciting and rewarding ways to get to the action.

In this, part two of the ‘All Aussie Top 10’, we will take you to the next three locations on the list. As with last article these are locations you can take a small trailer boat, your car top dinghy or caravan and get into some surprisingly good fishing. So, tie on a lure, line up that snag and get ready to cast – here we go. Number 4 – Cape York
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Queenfish are a common catch for land and small boat based anglers fishing the Weipa region. This one was caught under the Mission River Bridge.

When you think of Cape York you generally think of flash charter boats, expensive mother ship trips or exotic heli-fishing safaris. But the Cape is a legitimate DIY option and offers the drive in angler some of the best fishing in the southern hemisphere! You’ll need a 4-wheel-drive to tackle the Peninsula Development Road although on my many trips I’ve seen all manner of vehicles – Wicked vans, small motorbikes, Commodores, Falcons … even a ride-on lawnmower on that road. First stop Cooktown Cooktown, at the base of the Cape, offers a wide-variety of land and trailer boat based options. The Endeavour River is a massive system you could truly spend months exploring. But remember you are in croc country! Care should always be taken when fishing, camping or spending any time on or around tropical waters north of Rockhampton. Cooktown is also blessed to have the Annan River system. Located just south of town, this is a shallow estuary system with some sensational sand flats, mud banks and deep holes. It’s a hotspot for barra, salmon, jacks and mud crabs. Archer Point Options
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Land and small-boat based anglers ought to always take the crab pots with them … a feed of muddies is never far away when fishing ‘up north’.

Many years ago a few mates and I spent a week fishing around Archer Point near Cooktown. The old jetty pylons attract all manner of baitfish with predators often in hot pursuit. The nearby sand flats, rocky points and inshore reef edge are wonderful places to throw poppers and shallow diving lures. Squid are also popular here. Moving north, a trip up the Cape wouldn’t be compete without a stop in Weipa. This bauxite mining town on the west coast of Cape York is well-known as one of the nation’s goto sport fishing destinations. Weipa offers a huge amount of drive in and land based fishing options. With the town situated between two large river systems, the keen angler will find themselves surrounded with fishable waters (including the freshwater options inland!). Land based in Weipa!
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Saratoga are a great sport fish that can be caught land based or out of a small boat in isolated Cape York waterholes.

Evans Landing, Weipa’s main boat ramp, offers good jetty and bankside fishing. Like mentioned earlier, take extreme care with crocodiles here. Many have been seen on the sand banks here particularly at low tide. Weipa Campground is right in town, alongside the legendary Mission River. Most afternoons you will see anglers fishing the river flats here and quality fish are regularly caught. The regions offers jetty and bridge fishing options – you don’t need to drive far to find a spot to fish. North of Weipa is the town of Mapoon and between these two centres you’ll find more fishing options than just about anywhere. Stones Crossing and many freshwater lagoons to the right, the Pennefather camping area to the left – all along the road there are sidetracks to explore- many leading to fishing goto spots. A trip to the tip A trip up Cape York is not complete without visiting the very tip. A rocky headland, you can actually fish from the northernmost part of Australia. Strong South East trade winds tend to blow much of the time in these parts but the good news is you’ll always find a sheltered spot to fish around here. Punsand Bay offers sensational camping as well as some good beach fishing options. You’ll find a sensational jetty to fish from at Sesia and all along the beach and nearby rocky headlands fishing opportunities await. Several years ago when I was last there a local guy actually speared a sailfish from the rocks! Number 5 – Darwin
Bluefin or longtail tuna can be caught right in Darwin Harbour!

Bluefin or longtail tuna can be caught right in Darwin Harbour!

Darwin would have to be one of the planet’s few capital cities that also happens to offer world-class fishing opportunities. The region also boasts more fishing tours and charter operators than just about anywhere! Hot fishing near the CBD Darwin Harbour offers a wide-range of fishing opportunities for river, reef and estuary species. Barra can be caught virtually right in the middle of town at the Darwin Wharf. Visitors to the region should check out Stokes Hill Wharf – with a dedicated fishing platform and handy to nearby food and drink outlets it is a great place to spend an afternoon. The Nightcliff Jetty is another well-known local sport to wet a line. In the northern suburbs and a little quieter than the CBD, this is a popular jetty to fish and offers queenfish, trevally, jacks and barra. The jetty is best fished on a rising tide and live baits will really make the difference here! Those fishing lures should take shallow divers (for around the rocks) as well as poppers and fizzers for the surface both at low tide around the rocks and high tide as well. Darwin Harbour is a huge body of water and offers a myriad of fishing options. There are huge tides here and the breeze can blo ! So if you are using your own boat always seek local knowledge and check in with a local tackle store to get the latest on safe fishing options and what’s currently biting. Within a 2-hour drive of Darwin lay some incredible drive-in fishing options. These include Bynoe Harbour, the Mary River National Park, Litchfield and of course Kakadu. Like Cape York or even more so – being crocwise is critical. Sure there is some great fishing for barramundi and saratoga through these amazing waterways but safety should always be your main focus. Number 6 – Shark Bay, WA
Shark Bay from above - this region offers a diverse array of options for the drive-in and land-based angler.

Shark Bay from above – this region offers a diverse array of options for the drive-in and land-based angler.

Although it has been a few years, one of my all-time best fishing memories was a drive-in trip to Shark Bay and Dirk Hartog Island in the wild west, Western Australia. After a 5 1/2 hour flight across the country we jumped into a mates 4×4 and drove 10 hours from Perth to Denham, a picture-perfect town on the shores of Shark Bay. Located upon the Francois Peron Peninsula, Denham is surrounded by water and offers the land-based or small-boat angler a multitude of options. Again we are in the land of big tides so always check Wily Weather (on the Kaydo home page) prior to venturing out in a boat. The Shark Bay region is often affected by strong winds however it does boast numerous bays and sheltered options to combat either the Sou’Westers or easterlies. If the wind is too strong to launch a boat or fish round Denham, simply jump in the car and head around to Monkey Mia for calmer water.
An aerial image of Steep Point - one of the nation's land-based fishing hotspots.

An aerial image of Steep Point – one of the nation’s land-based fishing hotspots.

Monkey Magic Monkey Mia is probably the regions most well-known place name, famous for it’s dolphin population and their shallow-water antics. After dark is a great time to target fish around Monkey Mia – Tailor are a common catch along with whiting, big bream, grunter and mulloway. Spoeaking of tailor – this region is home to some absolute beauties! Growing much bigger than their east-coast cousins, double digit sized fish ( we’re talking pounds here) are not uncommon. Golden trevally are also a common catch here, as are the sensational sport fish known as giant herring! A drive-in trip to the Shark Bay area is not complete without a visit to the Steep Point land-based fishing location. Kaydo’s WA specialist Ben Knaggs and our new LBG guru ‘Goshie’ will go into more detail about rock fishing opportunities, but it should be pointed out this is one of the nation’s most legendary spots for big fish off the stones. Imagine catching Spanish mackerel, cobia, kingfish, snapper or even sailfish right from the rocks! Next month we will detail the final 4 destinations of our top 10 easily accessible Aussie fishing hotspots for bait, lure and flyfishing fans.
Nat Bromhead

About Nat Bromhead

Nat Bromhead’s fishing journey has come full circle over the course of his life. His father remains adamant that with assistance, a year-old Nat first wet a line while sitting a stroller perched upon Mackerel Beach on Sydney’s glorious Pittwater. An exciting fishing journey lay ahead - one that would include moving to Queensland as a teenager and ‘doing his time’ with lures and bait on the Sunshine Coast.

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