Guide to tropical freshwater

Guide to tropical freshwater

Fishing the freshwater streams in the tropical north of Queensland is something that needs to be on every anglers’ bucket list. The beautiful, clear streams that harbour thousands of hungry predatory fish as visually striking as the environment they live in, are a sportfisher’s dream. Catching a fish in such an environment is a bonus, however when fishing in these areas, you can usually expect at least a few fish, if not dozens.

The main quarry of this caper is sooty grunter and jungle perch, however welcome by-catch such as barramundi, mangrove jack, snakehead gudgeon and khaki grunter only add to the intrigue of tropical sweetwater fishing.

Like a lot of land-based fishing, the set-up is quite simple, with light spin gear and a handful of small lures enough to see you through a session. Where the difficulty lies is in traversing these creeks, and while many can be driven to with 2WD cars, the best fishing will be kilometres away from access points where the fish don’t see a lot of lures.

Having a good pack to carry water, camera gear, tackle and a basic first aid kit is handy, and the Rapala Jungle Backpack and Jungle Hip Packare two great products with this sort of adventure fishing in mind.

For fishing gear, anything you’re happy using for stream trout or creek bass is more than suitable for sooties and jungle perch. Just remember though, the odd mangrove jack, barra or plus-sized sooty may test this gear to its limit, so upscaling a very tiny bit may be necessary for some streams.

If you’re wanting to try this, the coastal freshwater creeks from about Mackay and all the way up to the tip of Cape York on the eastern side offer great sweetwater fishing opportunities.

If wading in a stream or crashing along the bank, be ever-mindful of crocodiles. Even though you may be many kilometers from the mouth up in drinkable freshwater, crocodiles can still be present. To be safe, seek local knowledge, heed warning signs, and stand well back from water you can’t see the bottom of. If it doesn’t feel safe, don’t risk it. No fish is worth your life.

All warnings aside, why not give it go? It’s a great alternative when it’s blowing too hard offshore or the boat’s in for a service. Some anglers just go as their preferred option because it’s such good fun!

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