by Dayne Taylor •
More often than not, the places we go to fish and the adventures we have getting to and from, or even while in these locations, are far more memorable than the fish you have caught there.
Warning! Fill the four wheel drive with your hard core camping gear and load on your yaks right now, because you’ll want to be spending some time in the Yuraygir National Park camping and kayak fishing after reading all about it.
Pebbly Beach campground sits by a small bay north of Station Creek Beach.
Getting to this remote campground is as much an adventure as staying there – you’ll need to drive along the beach and cross a saltwater estuary at low tide!
Once you’re there, the fun really begins. Settle into a spacious campsite, just metres from the shore. You’ll find some great walking tracks in the area to explore and the headlands nearby are excellent for whale watching.
Station Creek and Pebbly Beach are both Yuraygir Nation Park campgrounds located on the mid north coast of NSW. To access these locations you will need to take the McPhillips Road turn off from the Pacific Highway approximately 30km south of Grafton and roughly the same distance to the north of Coffs Harbour. A 4×4 vehicle is a must to access these sites, especially if there is or has been some wet weather.
Once you leave the Pacific Highway you have another 15-20km of dirt road, and even some four wheel drive dune and beach driving before you arrive at the salt water creek crossing required to access the Pebbly Beach camp grounds. If a low tide salt water creek crossing isn’t up your alley, then I recommend doing a U-turn and setting up camp back at the Station Creek camp grounds.
Both the Station Creek and Pebbly Beach campgrounds are a remote style camping – the sites are free range and unmarked. There is no pre-booking, no power and there is no fresh water, so make sure you bring enough for drinking, cooking and to wash off if you plan on spending a few days. There is wood fire barbeques permitted, and usually a good supply of firewood available near the rubbish bin site for park users.
The toilets are your typical national park long drop style. Both sites are monitored by a friendly park ranger who will come around and introduce themself to you and collect your fees. They require cash paid on the day, so make sure you’ve got some on you before you leave town. It cost $12 per person per night and about half that for a child to give you some indication on how much to take with you.
The offshore fishing in this location is mind blowing. From Christmas through to early winter, there is an abundance of warm water pelagic species on offer such as Spanish and spotted mackerel, tuna and even the odd marlin. That’s just on top of the year round smorgasbord of resident reef species like snapper, pearl perch, mulloway, kingfish and Venus tusk fish.
There are endless amounts of reef all within paddling and pedaling distance. But be sure to check out the marine sanctuary zones in the area before hitting the water, as there is quite a few to dodge in close proximity. Launching a kayak through the surf is sketchy at the best of times. We found the best location to do so was at the most southern end near the headland of Pebbly Beach.
A paddle around the front of the headland and you can begin searching for live baits such as slimy mackerel and yakka’s to slow troll. Or you can begin your journey towards any of the reefs to begin your search of a trophy-sized snapper. A quality fish finder with a marine map is a must on board your yak up here. It will save you a lot of time finding the shallow to deep drop offs and reefs loaded with fish much easier also.
To target the resident reds, a 20lb line and leader matched with a rod and reel to suit minimum is a must. These fish are brutes and the reef here is unforgiving. A selection of soft plastics such as Berkley Gulp jerkshads and the curled tailed nemesis are a great go-to bait for me. I also had great success on the 125mm Samaki Vibelicious on our last trip to the area.
As I always mention with any of my kayaking hot spots that offer offshore fishing as an option, always go to sea with a group or at least one other person and take all the necessary safety gear, including a location EPIRB safety device. And check the weather forecast; if it’s going to be rough and wild simply don’t go out.
I urge that you only take fish you are going to eat immediately from this location. This is a special place to visit and fish, so let’s make sure there is plenty here for years to come.
The small tidal saltwater creek here is called Station Creek, ironically. It offers a great place to spend hour upon hours exploring from the yak. And a great ‘plan b’ if the weather offshore isn’t looking too good. The creek also has also got a section not too far up from the ocean where it is also restricted from fishing due to the marine park sanctuary, so please be aware and check exactly where that is if you plan on having a flick whilst up the creek. This creek offers all the usual northern NSW species like bream, whiting, flathead, luderick and even the odd mangrove jack and mud crab.
I sure hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Station Creek and Pebbly Beach as much as I’ve enjoyed spending countless weekends and even weeks up here fishing over the years. This place truly is something special and you’ve got to witness it first hand to truly appreciate how great it is.
If you are interested in a trip but a bit unsure on what to take or where to go, jump onto my Facebook and Instagram pages @ Dayne Taylor – Little Boat Big Dream, and shoot me a message and we could possibly even organise a trip up here together sometime!