Written by Mike Streets in April 2005……
Approximately 160 km’s south of Brisbane is the beachside town of Brunswick Heads. We all tend to lean toward northern options for our long range fishing excursions and forget that there is some ripper spots to our south. Travelling by car allow about an hour and a half to get to Brunswick, towing my boat, a 6 meter Quintrex, took me just under two hours to reach the town. The highway and road south is excellent and really is quite an enjoyable drive.
There are two caravan parks in Brunswick, one on the eastern side of the bridge over the Brunswick River and the other on the ocean side where you are able to leave your boat on a sheltered sandy beach right outside your camp site. I was told you need to book well in advance on school holidays as the caravan parks become full very quickly, particularly the ocean side camp ground.
Brunswick is quite large and has all the usual facilities – service stations, pubs, chemist, supermarkets, doctor, etc.
My brother John, and his family moved to Brunswick Heads about 10 years ago so I am fortunate to have his place to camp at. On my last trip down there I arrived early afternoon and was given a quick cooks tour of the town then headed out to the groin for a look at Brunswick bar, (no Z-man this has nothing to do with beer). The groin is two rock walls that penetrate out into the sea, similar to the Gold Coast seaway but a lot smaller, and by virtue a little more prone to producing scary conditions. On this day with a 10 – 15 knot sea breeze pushing in, and a run out tide going the other way, there were plenty of punchy 1 meter plus pressure waves standing up between the flat periods between the sets. I thought it all looked workable, but not really a place for beginners to charge into. Just out from the headland at a close in fishing spot called “the local” we could see half a dozen boats working around amongst large numbers of birds crashing into the water……it all looked good for the morning.
John’s father-in-law has been fishing the region for years and was coming with us in the morning so coupled with his local knowledge and a rising tide in the morning when we planned to cross the bar, it was all looking good.
Later that afternoon around 5pm, John threw a couple of beach rods onto his trusty old Hilux and we preceded to drive up a short sandy track which led to a deserted part of the surf beach. A trip of all of 15 minutes had us on the beach in prime tailor territory and with the boat ramp and swimming beach no more than 10 minutes in the other direction I am thinking that the little brother is doing alright for himself, and must admit to feeling envious. After an hour and a half we had 8 good size green back tailor in the creel…..it’s all good!
4 am the next morning had us up and on the way, via the servo for some fuel for the boat, then down to the ramp to launch the boat. From the ramp to the bar is only an 8 minute spin, parts of the Brunswick river are shallow at low tide so keep this in mind and stick to the channel. Once at the inner side of the bar we pulled up and donned life jackets, this is the law in NSW and a fine applies to anyone caught crossing a bar without a life jacket fitted. We also log on with VMR274 Brunswick Heads air sea rescue on channel 90. Thankfully, the bar was showing smaller pressure waves than yesterday afternoon and the gaps between the sets was also longer. It was simply a case of waiting for a break in the waves and then charging out through the IuII toward the southern side of the bar entrance.
Once out through the bar my brother John gave me a course to steer and I got Emza up onto the plane, about 10 seconds later he said stop. I then looked at him and asked what was wrong to which he replied that we were already over the bait grounds. I could not believe it, we had travelled all of 3 to 400 meters from the bar and the sounder was black with hordes of bait fish under us. We loaded up with good sized yakka’s and slimy mak’s and put them straight into the live bait tank to keep them fresh for a bit of a swim later on…..
After a short run out and at the spot known as “the local” I saw awesome looking bottom that ranged in depths from 15 to 40 meters. There were about 5 or 6 other boats out with us fishing this area. We rigged up 4 lines, 2 floaters, 2 bottom rigs, and attached live bait to each.
Within 15 minutes one of the lines has been absolutely smashed, the fish was on for all of 10 seconds then gone. When checked, the live bait had been bitten in half yet all hooks missed. Whilst re-baiting this rig another rod gets hammered, we pick it up but after a short fight it to goes slack, this time the wire trace has been bitten clean through. Let’s see, something really fast with really sharp teeth my money is on big Mackerel or Wahoo.
Over the next few hours we had heaps of massive hits, but would either get bitten clean off, or get half baits back. The mongrels were too good for us so after much cursing and some deliberation the time had come to admit defeat and resort to plan B. We did a bit of bottom bashing with cut baits of tailor fillet, squid, pillies, etc. Lots of pickers and nothing decent seemed interested in our offerings, we managed to catch a couple of parrot and a small, but legal, snapper certainly nothing to write home about. With the sea breeze picking up and all the other boats now back inside the bar we too decided to call it quits and head in.
A quick summary of useful pointers on Brunswick runs as follows-
- the tower is manned from 6am to 6pm 7 days a week.
- call up is on channel 90 (27 meg) and channel 16 (VHF).
- life jackets must be worn when crossing the bar.
- your vessel must have two (2) buckets on board, plus all normal safety gear.
- you don’t need much fuel to fish this area, it’s all close in.
- the ramp is two lane and quite good, but has rocks on each side.
- stainless steel fish cleaning tables with running water are at the ramp.
- also at the ramp area are BBQ shelters and gas BBQ’s available to use.
What really took me with this charming spot is the laid back atmosphere. The people are very friendly even if they technically are south of the boarder and are cockroaches, maybe it’s because they are closer to Brisbane than Sydney that saves them? The fishing here has the potential to be awesome, you are so close to the seaway entrance, the bait grounds, and great rocky reef areas. It has it all and you are not locked into a 70 km journey each way like we are faced with here when we venture offshore. The blokes at Brunswick reckon that the big Spaniards run through to April, then from May through winter the bottom fishing for snapper really fires up………Brunswick Heads guys…….give it some thought……