In Travel

Heli-Fishing Takes Weekends To The Next Level

Fishing is not just a hobby, it’s a way of life. It’s getting up before dawn, travelling near or far to reach the ideal fishing grounds, and whiling away the best part of a day or weekend with a drink in hand in hoping to land a fish. When you’re short on time, however, it’s a lifestyle that can get neglected… but heli-fishing presents a newer, faster way to have your fish and eat it too.

Ange Esdaile, director of Go Fish Queensland, has taken the humble fishing trip to new heights, swapping swags and baked bean sandwiches for private helicopters, million-dollar yachts, gourmet food and wine, and spectacular settings from the coast to the outback.

Fishing on the Dumaresq River Photo: Simon Ceglinski

Founded three years ago, Go Fish is a bespoke travel agent created with a simple goal in mind – customised experiences to suit time and budget, backed with decades of fishing knowledge to help people catch the species they want, wherever they may be.

“In this time-poor society, people want an experience created around their time and their budget,” Esdaile says. “Not everyone wants to catch a marlin and not everyone wants to catch a barramundi. That’s why we offer a variety of locations and experiences.”

“Whether it’s going after barramundi in Cape York, or sooty grunter (one of the hardest fighting fresh water fish on the planet) in Eungella Dam, we go that extra step of basing a trip on where is the best location and the best time of year for that species.”

Changing vegetation on the journey west Photo: Simon Ceglinski

“We have self-drive or fly packages to suit, but the majority of our itineraries are bespoke, incorporating a multi supply chain of luxury boats, yachts and accommodation, something completely tailored to guests.”

Growing up on boats in Moreton Bay and learning to fish in some of Queensland’s most hidden and idyllic locations, you could say fishing is in Esdaile’s blood. After several years working in Queensland tourism and events, she had the chance to reconnect with her old love while organising the inaugural Moreton Island Fishing Classic six years ago.

“It gave me a chance to reconnect with the fishing fraternity, and I realised there was this special interest market based around travelling to the ideal fishing location, and so Go Fish was born.”

After many years in tourism, Esdaile had the logistical know-how but required strong fishing expertise to complement it. After meeting Dave ‘Nugget’ Downie, a celebrated fishing and photo-journalist for over 35 years at the Classic, Esdaile had found her secret weapon.

Photo-journalist and guide Dave Downie Photo: Simon Ceglinski

“With over 7,000 blog followers I was probably the only person who hadn’t heard of him! Dave has that real depth of fishing knowledge I needed. He provides day to day advice for every itinerary, taking into account the seasons and species guests want to catch, plus he knows all the secret fishing spots. But, most of all, he just wants our guests to catch a fish!”

Go Fish recently took its offering to the next level by unveiling signature experiences such as fishing on a million-dollar yacht, and a game-changing Heli Fishing Tour to the Dumaresq Valley, just across the border from New South Wales in Southern Queensland Country.

Flying ex Brisbane and the Gold Coast aboard a $3 million Airbus H125 helicopter with S&S Aviation, the route whisks guests across the Lamington and Border Ranges National Parks to the Queensland side of the scenic Dumaresq Valley and back again in a single day.

Pilot Brendan Parker with the H125 Photo: Simon Ceglinski

The 70-minute trip each way gives passengers ample time to witness the green and gold that exists just behind the Gold Coast. Sprawling mountain ranges and rugged escarpments, Gondwana rainforest and cascading waterfalls, verdant hills and spectacularly golden grassland and rivers – the diversity across this special region is remarkable.

Landing at the Dumaresq Homestead, guests are transferred to a peaceful river fishing spot where Dave ‘Nugget’ Downie is waiting with chilled beer and wine, an impressive cheese and charcuterie board, and all fishing gear pre-baited and ready to go. Nugget is on hand to offer help and advice to catch species such as cod and golden perch (yellowbelly).

SS Aviation Photo: S&S Aviation

You have the chance to cook what you catch, but, even if you come away empty handed, you won’t go hungry. A gourmet seafood lunch is laid out at the homestead after fishing.

Priced at $6,900 for up to five guests, the all-inclusive package includes limousine transfers and helicopter flights, all bait and tackle, gourmet food and alcoholic drinks, plus a personal fishing guide. If you want the fun to last a little longer, overnight stays can also be arranged.

Esdaile says the heli-fishing experience has been a hit with family groups and friends, plus the one to two-day length makes it ideal as a corporate team building or incentive activity.

“Whether you’re a fishing novice or pro, it’s a real bucket list experience.”

Published 21 May, 2018