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The Catwalk

By Goshie

The Town of 1770 is a small coastal village situated on the Central Queensland Coast near the township of Agnes Water. In the past few decades The Town of 1770 has become a real tourist attraction as it is a popular destination to explore the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Town of 1770 is also a well known fishing destination that boasts a wide variety of angling options such as offshore fishing, estuary fishing, beach fishing and rock fishing. The most famous land-based gamefishing location is known as the Catwalk and is situated on the easternmost point of Round Hill Head. I've been chasing hard running pelagics from the Catwalk since 2004 and I would have to rate this famous rock as the number one spinfishing location on the east coast of Australia.

The warm subtropical waters that surround the Catwalk can often produce a good mix of southern and northern species. Popular gamefish like Spanish mackerel, school mackerel, broadbar mackerel, cobia, longtail tuna, giant trevally, golden trevally, queenfish, yellowtail kingfish and the odd juvenile black marlin have all been captured from this legendary location.

SPANISH MACKEREL

One of the most sought after gamefish found along the Central Queensland Coast is the Spanish mackerel. These fast moving pelagics are best targeted from the Catwalk between September and December.

When I'm spinning for Spanish mackerel I always concentrate my efforts around peak feeding times. Over the years I have noticed that the best runs of Spanish mackerel have occurred around the high tide change. During the high tide the mackerel come inshore from the local reef systems and hunt for baitfish around the entrance of Round Hill Creek. When the high tide also coincides with an early morning light change, this is the perfect time to be dragging a fast moving lure like an 85g SureCatch Knight through the water. These predatory fish have phenomenal eyesight and I've had plenty of solid strikes well before the sun has hit the horizon.

When chasing mackerel with the SureCatch Knight I usually cast as far as possible and let the lure sink to the bottom. As soon as I feel the lure hit the bottom I crank it back to the rocks as fast as possible until the lure comes to the surface. Spanish mackerel will feed at all depths so expect a strike at all times even when the lure is fluttering down the water column.

A short, 30cm length of single strand wire is also recommended when targeting Spanish mackerel from the rocks. I use 58-69lb Mason single strand wire, which can be attached to the lure using a haywire twist. I also retrofit my 85g Knights with a Mustad 7794DS 4/0 treble, which is a 3x strong treble hook. These hooks are not only a lot stronger than the original hooks but the larger gape makes it easier to penetrate through the hard jaws of a big Spaniard.

Spanish mackerel can also be caught from the Catwalk by drifting live baits such as herring, mullet or pike. I have also landed a 16kg Spaniard by gas ballooning a dead garfish in an offshore wind, I landed this mackerel using a Wilson Venom LBG PE 1-3 rod and a Tiburon 20 Automatic 2 speed reel.

LONGTAIL TUNA

Longtail tuna are a fantastic spinfishing target due to their line burning capabilities. Longtails can be captured almost all year round along the central Queensland coast. Over the years the Catwalk has produced some exceptional runs of longtail tuna, especially when the East Australian Current pushes down the inside of Fraser Island. This creates a clockwise back eddy known as the 'sushi train' which continually pushes large pods of longtail tuna past the Catwalk.

The most effective and exciting method of targeting longtails from the Catwalk is to sight-cast these fish. The Catwalk is the perfect location to sight-cast longtails as it is predominately a sand bottom ledge and you can easily spot these migrating tuna from a long distance away. With a good pair of polarised sunglasses I can often see pods of tuna approaching the ledge from more than 200m away. This gives me plenty of time to execute a precision cast at these fast moving fish.

As soon as the sun is high enough to see these surface cruising gamefish, I usually scan the ocean looking for any signs of these migrating tuna. When I'm specifically targeting longtails at the Catwalk I prefer fishing the run out tide. These tuna hunt the mouth of Round Hill Creek on the outgoing tide chasing schools of herring, garfish, mullet and other baitfish that get flushed out of the river. The falling tide also forces these tuna closer to the surface making them a lot easier to see.

The trusty 85g SureCatch Knight is also my go to lure for targeting longtails. I skip these lures across the surface using a medium paced retrieve. During really calm conditions the longtails can often shy away from larger lures. When these tuna are not committing to the large metal slices I usually drop my lure size down to a 50gm SureCatch Bishop.

TREVALLY AND QUEENFISH

During the warmer months, packs of GT, golden trevally, bludger trevally and queenfish can often be found terrorising schools of baitfish along the Catwalk. Trevally are opportunistic feeders and love to hunt along the rocks looking to ambush prey around the big bommies scattered in front of the Catwalk. These predators will also cruise into the shallows and can be captured inside the mouth of Round Hill Creek. Trevally and queenfish are not fussy feeders and will take a wide variety of lures and they also love big soft plastics.

GEAR AND TACKLE

A good quality high-speed spinfishing outfit is recommended when fishing the Catwalk. Heavy duty threadline tackle is definitely becoming a lot more popular than traditional overhead spinning outfits. All reels should have a 6:1 gear ratio to crank lures at high speeds. To get the maximum casting distance out of your outfit your rod should be at least 9ft long.

Getting your fish past the sharks can sometimes be a real issue when fishing the Catwalk. These problematic sharks are normally big bull sharks and bronze whalers. Like a lot of the popular rock fishing destinations in northern areas these resident sharks have learnt that there is always a free feed on offer whenever someone hooks a decent sized fish. The best chance of getting your fish out of the water is to spin with a reasonably heavy 50lb outfit.

With this superb variety of pelagic fish available to LBG anglers, it's not hard to see why this rock platform is fast becoming one of the most popular ledges on the east coast of Australia. When the Catwalk really turns on the action there is no place I would rather be.

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