Weipa has been on my radar for a long time. However, for whatever reason, the opportunity to fish there has never presented itself. That was until I got wind that a group of mates was hunting for an extra to join them on their annual live-aboard trip. Having heard the stories of previous successful trips, and knowing the quality of the group, I would have been a fool to let the chance slip by.
So, while the rain poured on Victoria, I was soaking up sun and stepping onboard our floating accommodation, a purpose-designed vessel and our home for the next six nights. Attached to the ship were three modern skiffs for accessing the huge fishing area south of Weipa.
Barramundi fishing was the undisputed highlight of the trip. We caught so many and the fishing was so consistently good, we almost got sick of them. At one point, we even tried poppers in the middle of the day to see what would happen. Sure enough, the barra obliged.
In amongst fish-a-cast blind fishing, we had unforgettable sessions sight-fishing for barra on the beaches and in shallow mangroves.
There was life everywhere. Lots of species variety, and there was never much time between fish!
The flats were pretty quiet, though still reliable enough to spend some time drifting over. One morning, we found a big shark cruising a flat with a couple of cobia hanging off it. After quickly landing one, we scanned for some more, and a pair of big permit appeared. My first cast was a bit far out, but the next was perfect. One twitch got their attention, and then with a smooth long strip, the line tightened and I was on. After clearing the line on the deck and getting the fish onto the reel, I thought I’d finally managed my first aussie permit. Sadly, it was not to be and the fly fell out. The disappointment is still very, very raw. Had the rest of the trip not been so unbelievably good, I’m sure I’d feel a whole lot worse!
Guides in Weipa and surrounds are so busy, and so few these days (especially good guides), I feel all the more grateful for the experience. I have a score to settle with some permit, and so I hope I’ll get back there some day. The environment and the fishery are both wildly pristine. The kind of wild that is increasingly hard to find. On top of that, we had a legendary group, great guides, and delicious meals. Without hesitation I would say this was one of the best trips I’ve ever done.
The operation we went with want to maintain anonymity. They have a huge respect for the environment, and they realise that more tourists would have an impact, and place more pressure on the fishery. These guys are wise enough to appreciate how precious the resource is, and they’re determined to ensure it’s never overexploited.
My final thought when the trip was finishing was, work and family are inevitable prioritised, but don’t let the opportunity to live your flyfishing dreams pass you by.