Bait to Plate

Kev Collins

Well known Restauranter and co-owner of Fish D'vine & The Rum Bar in Airlie Beach. When Kev's not working he's out fishing in the amazing food bowl of the Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park or in his tinnie in the estuaries crabbing! His blog imparts wisdom, tales and info on all things fishing and food.

Come inside the postcard

If there is one single image that is the Whitsundays it is a photograph of Whitehaven beach. More specifically it is a place called “Hill Inlet” on the northern end of Whitehaven and a photo which has no doubt sold thousands of postcards. Some years ago I took my business partner well up into the inlet at high tide and she coined the phrase, "like being inside the postcard", and yes it is. Something magical a little bit secret and getting to experience a place so wonderful it doesn’t seem like it can quite be real.

While tour boats and bare boats are not allowed and the shallow sand flats and shifting sand banks make it almost impregnable, for those locals who can work the tides and read the visual clues it is actually possible to travel several kilometres up into the inlet and after selecting one of the many deep pools to anchor it is possible to let the tide go out and remain in the inlet through the tide, or even for a night or 2 and it is the most serene, peaceful anchorage to be had anywhere in the Whitsundays. A few sand-flies at dawn and dusk are a small price to pay to be able to anchor overnight, pop a couple of crab pots in and then sit enjoying a beer with a couple of rods out.

The Inlet is great fishing on smaller tides. Grunter, Mangrove Jacks, Pikey Bream and estuary cod are regulars with even the odd coral trout turning up at times.

During the day the sand flats are a fly fisherman’s dream come true with plenty of golden trevally, queenfish and even a few bonefish to be targeted. Cruising over the flats on a rising tide, sight casting with a fly rod in gin clear water  is a very special experience. Even small mangrove jacks are an easy target along the shallow clear water mangrove edges.

My wife and I have just spent 2 great nights in Hill Inlet, caught a few crabs, a heap of nice Grunter and Jacks, read a book and whiled away the time, out of phone range and with the inlet entirely to ourselves. It really is a perfect piece of paradise.

So a few tips.  

Always enter and leave on the last hour of a rising tide.

Small tides fish better but are harder to get in far enough on.

The deep pool with the big rock shelf on the left about 2k’s in is a good overnight anchorage and anchor about 50 meters upstream from the rocks. Be alert at each change of tide for swing room.

Squid or peeled prawns are the best baits for grunter.

Also for any "where's Wally" lovers. Yes, both the cat and the dog come out on the boat with us. They have done since puppy/kitten days and are absolutely at home on the water. Just like me =). Look carefully at the photos.