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  |  First Published: December 2010

It is hotting up in Gladstone this month, in more ways than one!

Cape Capricorn is providing boat fishers with a wide variety of reef species, and lately big trevors are on a lot of catch lists. These fish are found around the lighthouse and on some of the Cape Capricorn wrecks. While trevally is okay when fresh, and passable when smoked, it doesn’t freeze well so only keep what you need.

The recent rains produced good catches around the river mouths and flushed good food supplies out into the harbour. Hot spots include around Wiggins Island and the mouth of the Lillies. Lilies Beach is producing some fat whiting as well. Mackerel are being caught on trolled lures around Gatcombe Heads and Sable Chief.

Gladstone wrecks are harbouring some big fish, particularly cod, but they won’t move too far from the structure. This puts pressure on anchoring accurately or drifting correctly over the wreck. Details of the local wrecks can be found on most diving web sites.

Gladstone reef areas will be the hot spots this month. The recent rains take a few weeks to have much impact on the reef but they eventually fire up. Try fishing depths to about 15m when it does heat up; fish at this depth in the summer heat seem to be more active. Rock Cod shoals hasn’t been so great over winter but I am hoping for better catch reports this season.

I would get into Graham Creek earlier than later. The Liquid Gas plant construction will take off in earnest soon and the heavy action around the mouth of Graham Creek may have an impact on fish activity inside the creeks.

Targinnie Creek (which has now officially regained the second ‘n’ in its name) is also worthy of inspection. Whiting will be found at the sand bank on the north edge and bream and grunter further inside around the mangroves.

Curtis Island

Gladstone is blessed with some of the best island fishing around. You can fish from them or near them and there are heaps from which to choose – Facing, Rat, Turtle, Tide, Black Swan and the list goes on. This time Graham, Macca, David and I headed over to Southend on Curtis Island.

Graham booked us a house at Southend for a few days so we enjoyed spectacular views of Gladstone Harbour only a few metres from the area known as Pelican Banks. The house had everything we could possibly want so we were able to travel lightly. Curtis Island is serviced every second week day as well as Saturday and Sunday by an excellent vehicle and passenger barge.

Southend is a small township of friendly and helpful people. A conventional vehicle is all that is needed to get around the town but a 4WD is required to go further afield. The ocean beach is easily accessed via a sandy pathway and then you have miles and miles of open beach at your disposal.

This beach has plenty of interesting rock structures seemingly placed conveniently in clumps along the full length. Every tide offers varied opportunities so we chased fish all day long.

At high tide the tell-tale wave action indicates rock clumps just under the water. But all the rock clumps along this beach are surrounded by crystal white sand. On this weekend we caught bream, whiting, fingermark, gar, dart and the inevitably annoying but impressively leaping long tom. These are brilliant fighting fish – it’s just a shame they are worthless on the plate.

At low tide, water washes around these rock clumps and creates swirling sandy movements capable of dislodging fish food morsels. So on a flooding or ebbing tide this beach offers limitless fishing opportunities.

When you have enough of beach fishing the harbour side is equally as inviting. Luckily the house we had for the weekend was within easy visibility and walking distance of the harbour side beach. When the tide goes out here, it goes out for miles and exposes the sands of the Pelican Banks. Locals use this opportunity to bait hunt for worms, yabbies and soldier crabs.

From the comfortable veranda we waited for the tide to flood in before we tackled these banks of sand. Gutters are few and far between but small clumps of mangroves provide flicking opportunities. Locals tell us that prawns really don’t produce the goods but that is all we had. While we were able to pull in some thumper bream, only the smaller whiting grabbed our hooks. We had to be satisfied with bream for our dinner and the knowledge that next time we would find the local yabbies banks and improve our chances for whiting.

Southend has a jetty of sorts near the boat ramp where the barge unloads and loads. The concrete super structure is quite a way from the water but has steps leading down ward and has the capacity for boats to load or unload quite comfortably. When the wind and the tide work against each other, however, the chop would make this operation tricky.

The area is a fish magnet and, like all jetty structures, the small pickers keep you busy on the sharp end of your rod. We saw the big fish, but the ferocity of the pickers on our bait made it hard work.

On the days we were there the coral spawn in the water sent thousands of small grassy sweetlip into a frenzy. We were pulling in dozens of tiny grassies without too much problem but they were all returned to grow a little bit for us – and perhaps move out to the shoals.

This area is also well lit at night and, while we didn’t try it, I would imagine that squid and cuttlefish would be frequent visitors.

Southend is only one small corner of Curtis Island but because it is easily accessible by barge, it is important to treat it as if you own it. There are camping grounds available but there are a few houses available for holiday rental at very reasonable prices.

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