THE joy that comes from bagging a fish from the open ocean is special for a young angler, and our region is blessed with many spots to head with the family, each with rod in hand.
Whether you're an experienced angler after some bread and butter fishing or a family looking to give the kids their first taste of a fish they've caught themselves, Mackay's top beach fishing spots are the place to go.
1 Blacks Beach
Where: Just south of Shoal Point, about 12km north of Mackay.
Why it's great: This beach has a headland to its north which is big fish territory for mackerel, queenfish, trevally and black king, while to the south it is shallower and ideal for whiting, flathead, trevally and grunter.
Tips: There is car parking at the northern end of the beach and shops are close by. Dig for yabbies at McReady's Creek at the southern end.
Watch out for: This beach faces the east so if there is a strong SW blowing, conditions can be trying.
2 Bucasia-Eimeo beaches
Where: Two adjacent beaches in Mackay's northern beaches district, about 12km north of Mackay.
Why it's great: Two terrific beaches for kids' fishing.
Tips: Next to the caravan park on the southern end of Bucasia Beach is a large sand spit which is like a big wading pool at low tide, and it's also a good spot for whiting and flathead. Eimeo has a nice little beach which is a popular family spot. You can catch whiting, flathead and trevally here and it has some protection as it faces the north.
Watch out for: A good bait opportunity - yabbie beds are next to the boat ramp at Bucasia.
3 Mackay Harbour Beach and nearby
Where: Mackay Harbour, East Point, Illawong and Far beaches are most easily accessible to Mackay residents, and all are top family fishing spots.
Why they're great: These beaches offer a range of fishing and are easy to get to.
Tips: East Point on the southern end of Harbour Beach and at the mouth of the Pioneer River is one of Mackay's favourite fishing spots. The rock wall offers deep water fishing and there is deep water off the beach itself. Expect to catch whiting, flathead, bream, grunter, cod and trevally. Illawong and Far beaches are shallow and best fished on an incoming tide. Yabbies can be pumped from these beaches.
Watch out for: Wind and mud. These beaches are not the best in a south-easterly wind. At low tide, Illawong and Far beaches are quite muddy.
Our tropical waters are beautiful, but swimmers need to take precautions against dangerous jellyfish. Box jellyfish and very tiny Irukandji may be present in the ocean waters, including surrounding the islands.
The high-risk season is from October to May. Please observe warning signs and swim at patrolled beaches. Where possible, if you're heading into the water, wear a protective stinger swimsuit.
Crocodiles are not as common in the Mackay district as they are further north, but they have been known to visit our waters. Care is advised while on the coast, especially in estuaries, mangrove swamps and rivers.
Protect yourself from the sun by remembering to 'slip, slop, slap and wrap'. Slip on a t-shirt, slop on some sunscreen, slap on a hat and wrap on some sunglasses. Even in the winter months the sun can cause irreversible damage, so seek shade when possible.
Be mindful of tidal activity and always know when low and high tide will occur. Many of the Mackay region's beaches are very tidal, with up to six metre differences between high and low tide water levels.
The best time to cross a causeway is as the tide is falling, and return before the incoming tide returns.
More information about Mackay on mackayregion.com