Please select your home edition
Edition
Hella Marine - NZ - 728 - July

The saintly serenity of St Helens Beach, Queensland

by Lee Brake on 19 Aug 2013
What the rocks! Most of the local creeks have rock bars, so don't go roaring around until you know the area. Lee Brake
Small, secluded and alluringly tranquil St Helens Beach in north Queensland is one of the state’s little hidden gems situated centrally in a bay fed by a multitude of mangrove creeks.

To say that the St Helens area is heaven for small boat enthusiasts would be pretty much right on the money. There are close to a dozen creeks to explore and fish, ranging from tiny mangrove and rock lined inlets to long meandering systems that wind inland past the Bruce Highway and offer excellent freshwater sport. Add to this more rock and mangrove flats than you can poke a rod at, a string of inshore islands, some deep holes, sandy beaches and prime land based hotspots and you have the perfect destination for the travelling angler looking to explore somewhere different.

This little oasis of piscatorial perfection is situated about 15 minutes off the Bruce Highway (turn off at Calen) and is roughly and hour’s drive north from Mackay or south from Proserpine. It’s not the place to come if you want an internet cafe on the corner and a drive through Maccas, but if you like the idea of an escape from the hustle and bustle, this is a good spot to keep in mind.


Tranquillity aside – and that’s available in spades – this is fishing county. A quick drive down St Helen’s main street will reveal to visitors just how fishing orientated this little community of less than 100 houses is. Every house has a boat – sometimes two or even three – and cast nets hanging on clothes lines, crab pots stacked under mango trees, rods leaning up against old tin sheds and empty boat trailers in various states of repair are all everyday sights. These aren’t your Skeeter owning, graphite wielding fishos either; they’re mostly retirees and holidaying farmers who prawn, crab and soak a few baits. It’s a simple life and a good one.

What’s on offer
I personally love St Helens Beach because there are so many piscatorial options available. Even if you don’t have a boat, prawns can be netted (cast or drag) off the beach near Carpet Snake Point and Skull Knob; grunter, parrotfish, whiting and flathead can all be caught off the beach and its points; mud and sand crabs can be caught by putting pots overnight around the beach’s fringing mangroves and you can even walk out to the mouth of Jane Creek at low water to chase a barra or salmon in the hole there.


If you have access to a boat, you have a host of options depending on where you want to launch and the tide you want to fish. It is possible to run around from Seaforth without much fuss. Many anglers do just this and if you’re planning on fishing the area over the top of the tide, it’s not a bad option; however, if you want to work the St Helen’s area more thoroughly, it’ll pay to launch locally, as sandbars are a key feature of the bay. The ramp at Carpet Snake Point isn’t bad, but is a half tide ramp and should also be avoided if there’s strong northerly wind blowing. From here you can fish the local creeks with ease and it is a very short run over to Jane Creek and not much further to Blackrock, Station or Saunders. All of these systems receive only light recreational pressure through most of the year and fish very well. Blackrock and Jane are also nice, deep creeks with plenty of deep holes and bends. This makes them exceptional barra, jack and fingermark creeks, and whether live baiting, bouncing plastics or trolling you can expect some impressive catches. The mouth of Jane is an easily accessible spot and there are plenty of snags, drains and holes to keep you occupied. Grunter fishos will also find some nice shale bottom through this area.


Blackrock is more extensive and, as the name suggests, it is full of rocks! As you push upstream almost every bend has another rock bar and these can yield rewards for the thinking angler and bent props for the unwary. Work the deeper sections of these on the run out tide with plastics, blades or bait for bream and jacks, switch to barra gear for the first of the run in, and then finish off by going back to the finesse gear as the tide rises to tempt grunter and fingermark. Trolling the whole system slowly with medium and shallow divers like B52s, Classics and RMGs on your first visit is a productive and informative way to get to know its layout. Further around the bay are Station and Saunders Creeks. Both of these are tricky to navigate around the bottom half of the tide and are mostly popular for crabbing, but Station does have some pockets of deep water that fish well for barra and jacks. Also worth being aware of is the Green Zone that exists at this end of the bay which encompasses the Brothers Islands and the headlands at the point of the peninsular (check your zoning map).

The inshore islands, reefs and headlands are also well worth your attention. Low Rock (a.k.a Lonely Reef) sits all by itself between Croaker Rock and Carpet Snake Point and its isolation makes it an attractive target for fingermark, the odd cod and reef fish and school mackerel. It’s best trolled or live baited, however, casting 5-7' plastics around its fringes will get results. The High Islands to the north are popular for coral trout and grassy sweetlip and are popular for mackerel trolling. From there it’s about an hour’s run out to the Smith Group of islands which are extensive and contain some excellent reef fishing as well as some outstanding anchorages, but that’s for another issue.


Accommodation
There are a few options for those visiting the area. The Mackay City Council maintained camp grounds at St Helens Beach itself are popular and sites are well kept with facilities available. Otherwise, Saint Helens Gardens Tourist Park offers a variety of accommodation and is situated on the bank of St Helens Creek back towards Calen.
Camping information Mackay website

Ensign 660Barz Optics - San Juan Worlds Best EyewearPantaenius - Fixed Value

Related Articles

More net free fishing at Gippsland River Mouths
Migratory fish in Gippsland Lakes will have more protection at river mouths when exclusion areas for commercial netting Migratory fish in the Gippsland Lakes will have more protection at river mouths when exclusion areas for commercial netting are expanded by 50 per cent under new arrangements to be introduced next year by the Andrews Labor Government.
Posted today at 6:07 am
Stacer’s Ocean Rangers are now tougher than ever
The new 589 Ocean Ranger now features more freeboard at 730mm, bringing the model in line with the rest of the range. Due to customer demand Stacer has released two new models in their plate range to now include the 589 and 619 Ocean Ranger Hard Tops offering a more budget friendly option that is still packed with power and strength.
Posted on 17 Aug
Stacer’s Ocean Rangers are now tougher than ever
The new 589 Ocean Ranger now features more freeboard at 730mm, bringing the model in line with the rest of the range. Due to customer demand Stacer has released two new models in their plate range to now include the 589 and 619 Ocean Ranger Hard Tops offering a more budget friendly option that is still packed with power and strength.
Posted on 17 Aug
Shark 'trophy' hunters land in hot water
Two young men who removed the jaws of a dead Great White Shark have found themselves in trouble with the law. Two young men who removed the jaws of a dead Great White Shark have found themselves in trouble with the law.
Posted on 16 Aug
Port Phillip Bay Fishers gather to celebrate Bay fishing
Jaala Pulford welcomed key fishing industry representatives and recreational anglers to Port Phillip Bay Conference Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford today welcomed key fishing industry representatives and recreational anglers to the first Port Phillip Bay Conference in Altona.
Posted on 13 Aug
Trout opening festival expands to include Ballarat
To welcome opening of trout fishing season Goulburn Fishing Festival will be joined by a similar event at Ballarat To welcome the opening of the 2016 trout fishing season in rivers the popular Goulburn Fishing Festival will be joined by a similar family-friendly event at Ballarat this year on Saturday 3 September.
Posted on 12 Aug
Mansfield trout conference a must for anglers
Recreational anglers can learn about Victoria’s wild trout fisheries at a free one day conference on Saturday 5 November Recreational anglers can learn more about Victoria’s wild trout fisheries at a free one day conference on Saturday 5 November at Mansfield.
Posted on 10 Aug
Angler exceeds calamari catch limit at Portarlington
A 69-year old man from Portarlington will be summons to appear in the Geelong Magistrates Court A 69-year old man from Portarlington will be summons to appear in the Geelong Magistrates Court later this year for allegedly exceeding the daily catch limit of calamari.
Posted on 9 Aug
Brook trout to be stocked in Victoria
Brook trout are being released into Lake Purrumbete near Camperdown, the first official release of the fish in Victoria. Brook trout are being released into Lake Purrumbete near Camperdown this week, the first official release of the fish in Victoria.
Posted on 8 Aug
Tasmanian trout season opens
With trout season opening next weekend, many are pondering where to go to wet a line, to try and catch a big fish With the trout season opening next weekend, many are pondering where to go to wet a line, especially to try and catch a big fish first off. Me, I’m going to local water, just in case the weather is crook or turns foul.
Posted on 4 Aug