Walking the Walk: The magic of land-based Fishing

A common misconception amongst the fishing fraternity is this: it’s often assumed a person must own a boat to stand any chance of catching quality fish. This couldn’t be further from the truth with some truly spectacular fishing available to those with a keen sense of adventure and the ability to know where to look as Mackay-based gun angler Luke Galea explains.
A lovely 42cm mangrove jack caught on a Megabass Giant Dog-X SW whilst casting at a rock formation whilst land-based

The author, Luke Galea, with a lovely land-based barramundi.

Land-based fishing is often given a backward seat to the allure and appeal of venturing out in the faithful tinny. Sure, I’ll admit, it’s a great feeling to be cruising around the estuary, wind in your hair and knowing you have a fun day of exploration ahead of you. But if you’re after a feed of fish or simply looking for an enjoyable few hours with the kids and family, land-based options should definitely not be overlooked. With boats not always an affordable option, you can still enjoy successful fishing from shore.

Cast toward structure, not away from it

I’m sure many people have noticed the mystifying and baffling phenomenon where people in boats cast their lines as close to the bank as possible. On the other hand those fishing from the bank will cast their lines as far to the middle of the waterway as possible – think how often you have seen this happen. It makes sense though as the majority of structure is often more dominant along the water’s edge so why not fish from the bank and be closer to where the fish are holding? My advice is this should be done as a matter of priority. I’m now 31 years of age, fish twice a week and have been mad-keen since I was three or four years old. It’s only been the past 12 months where I actually purchased my first tinny. To be honest I hardly use it and still find myself fishing land-based for no other reason, than personal preference. I actually prefer to fish land-based due to the fact I still manage to catch a bunch of good fish and don’t need to worry about all those tedious jobs like fuelling and washing down the boat. The exercise component is another bonus!

Do the miles, get the smiles

Fish such as this hard-fighting mangrove jack can be the pinnacle of a walk in land based fishing mission.

Fish such as this hard-fighting mangrove jack can be the pinnacle of a walk in land based fishing mission.

I believe that walking the walk has taught me to be a better angler. Spending more time in one location instead of tearing up the creek in the tinny, driving past a potential honey-hole, has taught me to read a scenario more accurately and find more fish. Being in one location has allowed me to assess critical factors at different stages of the tide including current lines, eddies, areas bait schools up and areas where predatory fish feed. Being confined to one location whilst land-based teaches an angler to make the most of each situation, fishing a location to its full potential. I encourage people to take advantage of this. With reference to the above, when I refer to a land based location in which an angler should spend their time, I am not just referring to a general, run of the mill location frequented by hundreds of people each week such as the local pier or rock wall that sees every man and his dog wet a line there. Think outside the square and visit a location just off the beaten track a little or perhaps a spot that requires a little bit more effort to get to. Do the miles, get the smiles. Clearly if you spend a little extra effort identifying and fishing a location that see’s a lot less pressure, the results will speak for themselves.

Technology can boost your catch

Queenfish are prevalent in north Queensland estuaries, especially where rocks, flow and bait presence in combined.

Queenfish are prevalent in north Queensland estuaries, especially where rocks, flow and bait presence in combined.

There are a bunch of tools available to an angler keen on pursuing these land based locations. Ladies and gentlemen, enter Google Earth and Google Maps. A boating angler can literally spend thousands of dollars on state of the art fish finding technology, but for the price of a simple internet connection, some of the best fish finding tools are available to everyone. Google Earth has completely revolutionised the way I fish. Rock bars, mangrove stands, sand spits and gutters are all clearly identifiable with this fishing tool. In addition to this, I’ve found some of the most pristine and untouched waterholes nestled among rainforest streams which would rival the most scenic of National Geographic images. I’m not going to lie, sometimes these waterholes are extremely difficult to get to but are undoubtedly the best places to fish and offer a higher level of satisfaction.
This mangrove jack thought it was a flathead and was caught off a sandy gutter where one solitary rock was present. Isolated structure in the middle of nowhere will hold bait and predators.

This mangrove jack thought it was a flathead and was caught off a sandy gutter where one solitary rock was present. Isolated structure in the middle of nowhere will hold bait and predators.

One piece of advice for these type of treks is to travel light with a small backpack of assorted lures or plastics as well as a light spin combo. I use a light weight 2-6lb Samurai Reaction 203 Estuary matched up with a Shimano Rarenium 2500Ci4 and sometimes a Stradic 2500Ci4 for this application. Shimano’s Ci4 reels are often 20% lighter than a traditional Shimano spin reel in the same size. Structure is your friend. There is absolutely no point fishing where the fish are not. If you’re going to give yourself the best chance of land-based success, you’ll need to ensure you fish areas such as this. Beaches are a lucky dip element as anything can swim by however focusing more on the deeper gutters will yield greater success. Fish use beachside gutters as migratory and feeding highways. These are the places fish will generally move into first as they move further up the shoreline to feed on the incoming tide. Scoping out these places at low tide will soon give an indication as to where these gutters are. Alternatively, if a Google Earth image was taken at low tide you may be lucky enough to view the gutters from the imagery. GPS coordinates can be obtained from Google Earth as well. Simply hover over a potential spot, transfer the coordinates to a portable GPS unit and you are away.

The subtle factors count

As mentioned in a previous article, rock walls and bridges absorb heat from the surrounding environment and transfer it to the water column. This often creates an additional degree or two in water temperature at these locations. Further to this, they hold bait, act as pressure points and create an eddying effect on the tidal flow which is the perfect place for pelagic fish. There really is no excuse for a land based angler not to catch a feed of fish. It would be fair to say a keen, persistent angler who reads a scenario correctly in terms of tide and structure will often out fish many anglers fishing from a tinny. The land based angler needs to put more thought into their fishing to get the results, they need think like a fish.        

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