An average-sized yellow pulled from the snags in the background.

Weekend away yakking for yellowbelly

THE dropping air temperature here in southeast Queensland heralds winter. It also heralds the closed season for bass fishing in tidal waters to enable them to spawn. The latest Queensland fishing rules and regulations may catch a few anglers out because they now state that tidal waters are, according to our local fisheries officers, any creek or river that has access to brackish water, and these regions are now included in the June 1 to August 31 closed season.

Rivers and creeks above weirs and dams are still viable options during this time. If you are in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact your local fisheries office and double check. It’s better to be safe than sorry to avoid copping a fine.

You can contact the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on 132 523. It had been a while since our last kayak fish and the boys were keen to dust off the yaks. The local wild bass population was off limits and the dams were copping a fair bit of wind, so the decision was made to do a run inland and hit a couple of creeks to chase some yellowbelly.

It seems the first hint of cold weather gets yellowbelly moving around in the creeks we intended to target. The plan was to leave straight after work on Friday to set up camp, then hit the creek for a couple of sessions on the Saturday and go for a quick fish Sunday morning before returning home to catch up on the weekly house duties to keep the better half happy.

Arriving home from work on Friday evening, I quickly threw together the last of my gear just as Peachy rolled in to pick me up. We made a swift stop for dinner and to grab a few beverages for the impending fireside brains trust meeting that night. We were soon making good time heading west.

Pulling up at the campsite about 9pm, we found Mark and Adam had already set up the tarp and cooking area and had the all-important fire started. This meant all Peach and I had to do was grab a seat and join them with beverage in hand.

Now this was the way to start a fishing trip. Morning brought an overcast day and the last member for the trip. James had made the run from Hervey Bay that morning and unfortunately could only stay for the day.
Hopes were high to get into a few fish.

With breakfast done and dusted we headed out to check our first launch site. Unfortunately, since the last trip out (about 18 months ago) the site had become well and truly overgrown and made finding the right track into the creek a bit of a challenge.

After setting up and figuring out the best route to the water’s edge, we started paddling upstream through a section that fished well last time. Previously we had landed several smaller bass and yellowbelly in the first hundred metres of the creek.

These trees represent an example of the snags within the creek fished by the author.
These trees represent an example of the snags within the creek fished by the author.
Mark’s first yellowbelly from a kayak.
Mark’s first yellowbelly from a kayak.
The yaks loaded and ready for action.
The yaks loaded and ready for action.
The author with a beautifully coloured yellowbelly.
The author with a beautifully coloured yellowbelly.

This time, however, the section seemed almost stagnant and quite fishless. After working our way through several shallow sections and dragging the yaks over numerous log jams, we popped out into a decent-looking pool. Sadly, this pool only yielded a bass each for James and I.

One interesting meeting we had was with a farmer and his wife who we saw walking their fence line that ran along the creek. We got talking to the farmer and he mentioned he’d seen some other crazy blokes in kayaks a while back trying to make it all the way up to the quarry.

We then informed him that was us and he turned to his wife and said: “These are the blokes I told you about a couple of years ago.” It seems not too many people yak that creek, or at least not that section of it.

After a dismal start to the morning we decided to pack it in and headed back to camp to get sorted for the afternoon session. We decided to fish another section of the creek and even though we had fished that section before, we needed to use Google Earth to find a new launch site because our old one was on private land and could no longer be accessed.

I have to say, it was a good thing Mark brought Adam along. He was in charge of lunch for the day and definitely turned on the gourmet, with some beautiful Hervey Bay scallops in a sweet chilli and lime sauce.

These went down a treat and definitely helped us forget about the lack of fish for the morning. After lunch we loaded the truck once more and started heading out of town towards the area that Google Earth showed as a possible access point for the next section of river we planned to fish.

We eventually found the track running from the side of the road and bumped our way down to the riverbank, set up the yaks and slid them in to start the afternoon session. We began by working downstream, leapfrogging each other as we worked the numerous snags that lined the creek.

It was another worrying start to the afternoon, with not even a bump for the first hundred metres or so.
Then finally, as my Rapala shad travelled out from one of the many snags I got a solid hit and came up tight on a decent fish.

The small creek was made even tighter by the size of the snags, yet after a couple of heart-in-mouth runs a beautiful yellowbelly popped up yakside. Finally we’d had some success. Following on from the first fish, a few snags later James hooked a good fish and was fairly excited when his first yellow from a yak was boated.

The afternoon rolled on and unfortunately there were many doughnuts to be had, with only James and I managing a couple more yellows each. I also had the bonus of landing a solid bass before it was time to head back to camp.

The next morning turned out to be a late start because the road through town was closed until 10am for a fun run. This suited us as we packed up the camp before heading out to launch the yaks. Peach had enjoyed a big night fireside and decided to have a rest rather than come paddling. Adam and Mark were still keen to try to catch their first yellows from yaks.

As we only had an hour or two before having to hit the road, we promptly launched and started paddling upstream, flicking at snags as we went. It wasn’t long before my white spinnerbait was smashed right under my yak, and it screamed off on a strong run.

This fish took a bit of effort to tame and I was ecstatic when an amazingly coloured yellowbelly came to the net. Shortly after I netted mine, Mark was smashed when working his spinnerbait out from another snag on the opposite bank.

This one was the complete opposite of mine, with a really dark, almost black colouration, and it was a good fish for his first yellowbelly from a yak. Unfortunately Adam didn’t find any fish on this trip, but I reckon that makes you even more determined to get one next time.

About Stewart Hansen

Ever since Stewart can remember he’s been chasing fish via many different methods. He enjoys learning new techniques and this had led him to meet some great people and visit beautiful locations. Since discovering kayak fishing, Stewart has found he loves the peacefulness that comes from drifting down a small bass creek and even more so the challenge of doing solo battle with a bluewater speedster. Recently he’s started working at Hooked on Angling & Outdoors in Tewantin, so if you’d like to have a chat and learn more about yak fishing, drop on in.

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