A few years back before I was guiding I went on a holiday with a couple of blokes up to FNQ chasing Jungle Perch and Sooty`s. It was an exploration trip and we spent the week driving, hiking and bush bashing.
It was so good that last year I decided I was going back and thought I would take a couple of “select” clients with me. Chad & Cris were both old WRT customers/mates and I knew them well. Gavin however, was the only person that I did not know but he was so passionate from the first contact that it was impossible not to let him join us and I was confident he would fit the group dynamics.
We all flew up and met at the Airport on a warm and humid Sunday morning. After a few logistical things were taken care of we were soon on the road pumped up and sharing Fishing tales and life story’s to pass the time.
With no time to waste we dropped the gear off at the rental house and geared up, jumped in the car and headed for the river to try and get a couple of hours in before dark. The boys didn’t really know what to expect but I did, it was going to be awesome.
There were a few “Jesus”, “wow, check that out” and “F` Me” comments as we headed up the road and passed the river. The “Achtung Crocodiles” signs made things a little more real for the boys and I think the reality of the situation started to sink in. This was Croc country and we would need to be careful.
We headed down the tracks that judging by the mud and footprints had clearly seen some activity recently. It was raining, raining hard and as it’s the rainforest and the wettest place in Australia I guess that’s no surprise.
The boys wasted no time and started throwing soft plastics and jackal blades. It wasn’t long before the first shout was heard and Cris had lost his first fish in the fast water. Over the next Two hours, Nine Fish were landed and we head back for a cold beer excited for the next day.
In the morning we set off to the local tackle shop. The guys were friendly and very curious about the fact that some “outsiders” were smashing through the local jungle. After parting with a few Dollars for more lures and other fishing bits one of the staff mentioned that the river had come up considerably overnight and this was due to the unseasonable rain they had just before we arrived (brilliant). He told us to be careful and suggested we check out some other rivers if we found the fishing tough (oddly he didn’t give us the GPS coordinates for his secret Spot X and Honey Hole).
We headed back up the river and on arrival, you did not need to be a local to see it was up and running dirty.
We only managed a few fish over the next hours, we had a quick chat decided to pack up and head to some small creeks and see if we could rescue the day. We drove around for a couple of hours and finally found a small river that we could access.
We hiked up the river and found some JP`s fairly quickly. After a few hours and some reasonable numbers, we headed back somewhat happy that we had seen some fish.
About 500m from the car Chad started to carry on a little bit and after a few “yelps” Cris shouted “RUN”. You see Cris had seen the massive swarm of Wasp`s around Chad`s head that was now stinging him, we all ran the best we could whilst laughing like little kids. Poor Chad copped a few but laughed along with us.
That morning we drove back to the main river, the water looked a little lower and clearer but was still pumping. We had decided to try and cross the river to a creek after some Intel Gav had got from a mate. We dropped into the jungle and it wasn’t long before I was stuck and had to be roped out by the boys (they found this amusing). Plan B found a better route and when we reached the river it was one of those moments you face from time to time when you had put so much effort in that you didn’t want to accept the reality. The water was pumping and I waded out to test a few spots but no matter what I did it was clear that the risk was real and if someone slipped there would be no coming back from the raging rapids below us. The boys looked gutted but no fish is worth drowning for. I had noticed a decent back eddy further down the river and suggested we walk down for a fish.
It wasn’t long before they all had a fish on and Gav had a cracking 47cm Sooty that was almost lost at the bank if it wasn’t for Chad diving in (there is a great video of this). We spent the rest of the day walking down the river and fish were being taken by everyone and spirits were high with loads of laughs along the way. What a Brilliant day.
We headed out West to hike into a Gorge that I had visited on my last trip. It’s a 2.2km drop over about 250m and takes about 30 minutes to walk in and 3 times that (for me) to walk out.
The river looked amazing and Gav snagged a Sooty on his second cast so hopes were high. After a few hours, we had only managed a couple of fish and we started to doubt the amazing water. One thing about FNQ even if you are not catching fish you are surrounded by the most amazing scenery so it’s hard to be grumpy. Cris flew the Drone up the creeks and River to see if we could cross but again it was running too fast.
We decided to head out and prep for the next day as we were trying to access the creek we had failed to get to a couple of days before. So another day with low numbers but we did have cold beers.
We hiked down further up the river anticipating that we would not be able to walk across the river again. The fishing was slow at first but we could see that the river had dropped. When we arrived at the creek it looked a lot more promising than before. After a bit of chat and debate, Cris stepped up and walked out into the current. The difference today was that if you did make a mistake the pressure waves had gone and it didn’t look like certain death below. We all headed out with wading staffs and by the time we reached the far bank we were all a little giddy from the experience.
The Creek was something from Jurassic Park. It was truly phenomenal in every way. The fish though were seriously spooky as the water was so clear and on reflection 1 or 2 people would have been the most you would take up there. We pushed up and put 100% effort into the hike and by the time we decided to turn back we had had some decent JP`s and my legs were jelly.
We crossed the river and decided to fish for the last 2 hours up on the main river and the boys smashed them in the failing light. When I arrived back to the car Cris told me that Gav` had tried to lip grab a JP (biggest of the trip) and the fish had shook its head and put the treble through Gav` thumb. Now those that have fished with me will attest that I go on and on about crushed barbs. They are good for the Fish, they are good for the bloke with the hook in his hand but more importantly, they are good for the poor bugger that has to rip the treble out of your hand. This honor befell Cris and he performed the surgery nicely. There is some video of this but boy does it have some swearing in it.
It was a great last day and the final numbers were just shy of 100 for the trip. If we had not had the rain it would have been a 200+ fish trip but that’s the way it goes. The big Sooty went 47cm and we also had a few nice Jp`s in the mid 30`s but couldn’t find a big girl.