Pancake Creek

Motoring with sails up and lures out we headed west to the mainland.
The motor and sails combination was giving us around 7 knots and that was just fine for Spanish Mackerel.


The seas were as calm and there were birds working the schools of baitfish boiling on the surface.
It didn’t take long until Slappers reel started to scream.


A short fight had us seeing colour in the clear azure water and Slapper brought a 6kg Spanish mackerel to the boat.
After quickly dispatching and bleeding it we had the boat underway again and heading west at 7 knots.


It was only a matter of 10 minutes until Slappers reel was once again screaming.
This time a very short fight had a 2kg stripey tuna coming aboard.
The combination of a Spaniard and a stripey was ideal as the Spaniard is great eating and the stripey is great bait.
An hour elbow deep in guts saw me processing both these fish and filling the freezer completely.


We are now set for food and bait and life is good.
We motor sailed for another 5 hours and had no further action on the lures so we wound them in at the entrance of Pancake Creek.
Pancake Creek is a wide and shallow waterway with heavily wooded shores and clear clean water.


As we rounded the headland to enter the creek another cat of similar size to Just Jammin slotted in ahead of us.
The two cats followed the creek round the corner to find several cats already anchored up and a couple of power boats as well.
Friday night was calm and warm and well worth a fish.


The 3m tides caused a strong current both coming in and going out and there was little slack water at either end so fishing was a bit hit and miss.
Slapper caught a few snook and that was about all.
Saturday dawned calm and overcast with a slight chill to the air.


A few hours spent fishing from the back of the boat resulted in a couple of dozen whiting in the live bait tank which were destined to be both breakfast and live baits for later in the evening.
At high tide I had taken the tender over to the mangroves that lined the creek and placed my crabpot in a spot that looked likely to house a few crabs.


6 hours later the tide had gone out and the line of mangroves I had tied my pot to were high and dry.
I took the tender as far towards the mangroves as I could then beached it and slogged thru the ankle deep mud to the spot I had left my pot.
From several meters away I could see there were no crabs waiting for me, but I was wrong.
The smallest mud crab I have ever seen was backed up against the tuna head I was using as bait.
The crab was barely 5cm across the shell and was doing its best to get a claw onto me.
Even tiny crabs seem to be bad tempered buggers.


Saturday night saw a rather large squid make an appearance under the transom light.
We used the bait and switch technique by using one of the live whiting we had as mulloway bait to entice the squid to the surface and then swapped it for a squid jig.
Fried squid made an enjoyable second course after the main of salt and pepper mackerel.
Sunday morning was overcast and a little rainy but still, quiet and a great place to wake up.


Slapper spent most of the morning compiling a USB stick full of music from the selection I had on my media hard drive.
His selection made a pleasant change from the inane chatter of commercial radio.
Once that was done we each dropped a live whiting over the transom and kicked back waiting for some fishy action.




Toward the end of the run out tide Slappers rod buckled and his reel screamed but unfortunately he wasn’t able to get solid connection to the fish.
Only 15 minutes later my reel squealed and rod bent over with something fishy taking a hundred meters of line in just seconds.
I dialed in some drag but wasn’t able to slow down the fish and seconds later my line parted company.


Nothing large came by for the next couple of hours so we concentrated on catching some more whiting for bait although they live in the live bait tank so long they tend to become pets.
Finally Slappers reel once again screamed but this time he got a good lock on the fish and a good fight took place over a quarter of an hour.
When the culprit was bought to the boat it was found to be a 2kg trevally which was photographed then let go.


Several hours then passed before I hooked into a nice sized fish on my 8kg outfit.
A strong but lazy fight that lasted around half an hour saw a 6 foot long shovelnose came to the surface.
Slapper grabbed it by the tail and hoisted it aboard so we were able to remove the hook and take a photo then release it.


We didn’t put the lie detector on it but it had to be at least 35kg and so my biggest fish of the trip so far.
Around 2.30pm a dingy from one of the other cats motored up to the back of the boat and called for our attention.


It turned out that the couple onboard were inviting us and the occupants of the other boats to join them on the exposed spit of sand towards the entrance of the creek.
Being a Sunday it was a Sundowner being organised so like minded waterbound travellers could swap stories and advice over a few drinks.


I was focused on catching dinner and so declined but Slapper took the tender to the spit.
After several hours Slapper returned having had time to have a good chat to other cat owners about their experiences sailing up and down the coast.
I had not caught any dinner fish while he was gone and so Slapper cooked a bacon omelette and watched all 8 episodes of Bad Cop Bad Cop.


Monday morning was clear and crisp and promised a sailable southerly for our trip to Gladstone.
Before we could leave Pancake Creek I needed to retrieve my crab pot from the mangroves lining the shore.
There was nothing in my pot.
As I had set the trap during a 3m high tide and we were leaving on a low tide the rope I had tied to my pot and to the mangrove was almost out of my reach.


I barely got my fingers onto the knot and retrieved the pot by the skin of my teeth.
Upon returning to the cat I loaded the tender on the davits and raised the anchor then we were under way.
A southerly of around 15 knots was ideal for a spell of sailing and so we raised the sails and headed west.