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BAFFLE & THE BROADWATER

Paul Chew

Nestled on the confluence of four small creeks, the Broadwater is a magical place to spend some quality time getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Situated about one hour north of Bundaberg and an easy 35 minute drive from 1770, this little piece of paradise offers great swimming, fishing and some incredible kite surfing conditions all year round.

Fishing in this area is very diverse, with beach fishing, wading the pristine sand flats, reefs not far offshore and of course some great mangrove jack fishing as well. The hidden jewel in the crown of the area is Broadwater Haven, 68 acres of pristine bushland, featuring ten eco- friendly, well appointed self-contained cabins, sitting only a few metres from the water's edge. Owned by Frank and Noela Goetz, and managed by Kerry and Neil, this pet friendly getaway really is one of the most relaxing places we have ever stayed, with everything you could ask for on hand.

Walking opportunities abound, be it on one of the tracks that traverse the property, on the sand flats at low tide, or crossing the creek and walking for miles on the secluded windswept surf beach. Being a keen amateur photographer, one of the highlights of the stay is the abundance of wildlife that inhabits the place, everything from kangaroos on the sand flats, to frilled neck lizards basking on the fence posts, as well as some spectacular sunrises over the sand dunes.

The top end of Deepwater Creek is a kayaker's dream; skinny water where you can cast easily to both sides of the creek, fallen timber every few metres and a few hidden rock bars as well. Combine this with very little tidal run and high banks and tree line to minimise wind and it all kind of comes together perfectly for those that are paddle minded.

And a little about the fishing

I always head here with great plans to do huge amounts of fishing, but upon arrival the laid back nature of the place kind of takes hold and more often than not, I find myself having a quiet beer on the deck watching the tide do its thing. Andy on the other hand, fishes dawn till dusk some days, either walking or kayaking the flats towards the mouth, where Mitchell and Deepwater Creeks converge, chasing tailor, bream, flathead and queenfish.

On the high tide last trip there were numerous small trevally sighted and Andy finally tempted one with a ZMan 2.5" GrubZ in Bloodworm colour on a TT 1/6oz HeadlockZ HD jighead, tossed way out in front of it and hopped back slow so as not to spook them in the gin clear water. There is also some awesome topwater fishing to be had on dawn and dusk, with poppers bringing more than a few nice queenies undone.

Unfortunately Andy bit off more than he could chew (no pun intended) when he hooked a behemoth of a queeny on his light rod casting a Baby Bass coloured ZMan 3.75" StreakZ, which resulted in him being spooled before he had a chance to even bust it off or chase on foot.

Most of the time I prefer just picking up a rod and a few lures and walking the gutters in front of the cabins for a few flathead, or digging a few yabbies and sitting in the water under the trees at the front, catching a few whiting on the high tide. During the cooler months, if you can drag yourself away from the open fireplace out the back, some quality whiting and flathead are landed right out the front of the cabins.

Boats are launched from about half tide up, at the private ramp, with most preferring to leave them anchored up in front of the house for the night. This makes it easy to dive up and check the crab pots early of a morning. Frank is more than happy to launch with the little tractor if you prefer. For those that eat mud crabs, it seems best here a month or so after a decent amount of rain, with some of the best crabs you will ever catch coming from Mitchell and Deepwater Creeks. Mullet or tailor frames seem to have the best success, with chicken frames also a good choice.

For most that visit for the fishing, the lure of the magnificent mangrove jack is what draws them to this area and rarely are they disappointed. Options to target these fish are just about endless; whether you're running up the creek from the cabins, or launching at the headwaters of Deepwater and fishing your way down through the myriad of log-jams and sunken rock bars.

During a trip in early December, we boated 8 small mangrove jack and lost a few more including a horse of a fish that Pete Jones had the hooks pull on after doing all the hard work, extracting him from the tangled tree where he was residing. That's fishing I guess. We launched up the top, headed down about 2km and started working the edges over with hard bodies and ZMan 3" MinnowZ rigged on TT Snake Head jigheads. The bites came pretty much straight away, with a few fish coming on poppers as soon as they landed. It was an awesome afternoon of fun, apart from losing the bigger fish.

We also fished the Baffle pretty hard on the Saturday with scarcely a bite, besides a couple of cod and a few tarpon, for Pete and I, despite throwing everything in our tackle box. Andy was in the Yak,and got a little trevally and lost a ZMan 4" SwimmerZ to a fish, but that was it. We have had our best fishing in the Baffle after a few storms have dirtied the water up from the Ferry Crossing ramp, but on this occasion the water was gin clear right up at the Elieulah Ck Bridge. The live bait fisherman were having a ball at night though.

Lures and Techniques

We prefer to fish the area with lures. Hardbodies and ZMan 3" MinnowZ and 4" SwimmerZ rigged on TT Snake Head jigheads thrown deep into the heavy timber and hopped slowly back out should see you locked up to some of these crimson lure thieves. On the most recent trip, the 3" MinnowZ in Houdini colour worked a treat, with fish hitting on the initial drop after the cast.  Also don't discount topwater fishing in the upper reaches of Deepwater Ck, as a slow worked popper often results in an acrobatic tarpon, trevally, or mangrove jack crash tackling the lure. This type of fishing is not however for the faint hearted, sometimes leaving the angler with trembling knees and a look of utter disappointment on his face.

Fishing at some of the lay down timber and deeper rock bars can produce some red hot jack fishing during the summer months, fishing deep and slow in the months coming out of winter often produces the best quality fish. This part of the system, where your lure is often landing in the shade of an overhanging palm tree, also holds a healthy population of small barramundi, which always provide a welcome by-catch to any angler.

Don't be afraid to downsize lures too, as a big jack will often engulf a small lure meant for a bream or trevally. Plastics are thrown in close, let sink to the bottom and then just slowly hopped back out to the boat. Don't be afraid to let your offering sit on the bottom for a few seconds as a bite will often follow a short pause. With Jacks being a schooling fish, the best time to get one is right after you have just landed one. Fishing this style you have to be on top of your game, ready to go hard and use good rod angles to try and extract the red devil from his underwater lair. Fishing a good quality 20lb braid mainline and between 20 and 40lb mono leader should see you win more of these battles than you lose.

What else is on offer?

Another string in the bow of this area, is that the top end of Deepwater has a little weir that then forms a few kilometres of freshwater, billabong-style fishing that can be easily accessed by kayak at the causeway crossing on the way to Wreck Rock Campground. This little waterway holds freshwater jacks, and will provide me with some peaceful hours exploring this summer. Just to elaborate a little more on Wreck Rock, it's a small outcrop of rock on the surf beach a few kilometres up from Broadwater Haven, and boasts a small campground, at which sites are at a premium and must be booked in advance. Wreck offers some great landbased fishing at times, with all of the usual pelagic species on offer.

So if you are looking for place to unwind for a while, be sure to check out one of my favourite parts of the Queensland coast. A typical day on holiday consists of a morning walk with a spin rod and plastics, lunch round the communal BBQ area, then a flick for a jack in the afternoon, finished off with a cold drink or two under the she oak trees by the water. A week really isn't enough, by the time we spend a morning over at Agnes Waters doing some shopping, do the short drive out to the picturesque Wreck Rock, where there are some great photo opportunities, and maybe a fish over in Baffle Creek. Time soon gets away and its time back to the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Broadwater Haven truly is a hidden piece of fishing paradise, taking you back to a time when life was less complicated and it's a place that just keeps drawing you back time after again... tight lines..

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2017