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Glorious Gladstone
  |  First Published: August 2011



August is a great time of year in Gladstone. The nights are still a little chilly but the sunny clear days are just glorious, and the fish are obviously enjoying it as well.

Estuaries

The Narrows and Graham Creek are supplying a good feed of bream at the moment; they seem to have their winter bodies which are thick and juicy. The occasional whiting is appearing but they are not schooling yet and only seem to be caught in small numbers.

South Trees near the rock walls are giving up grunter and, while you might have to return a few to the water, you should be able to get hold of a decent feed for a small family.

Calliope River is slowly returning to life with the occasional fingermark finding its way into the ice bucket, particularly around the rock wall near the double railway bridge as well as the mangrove edges near Devils Elbow. If you flick into some of the larger drains deeper into the river on a rising tide you could hook up to a grunter or two.

I have found that when fishing Calliope River, once you bring a catfish aboard it is time to up anchor and move closer to the mouth – unless you like catching catfish!

Some local fishers are still hunting for Awoonga barra escapees in the Boyne River. A few catches are appearing in the local paper. I hope these are being returned to the water for others to have a go. I have heard they are awful eating and still have the muddy flavour of impoundment barra.

There have been plenty of boats exploring Colosseum this month with whiting coming from the beach areas and small tuskers committing suicide on the small clump of reef at the mouth. A few sole fish are finding their way to the hooks in the deeper reaches of the creeks.

Colosseum is a great place to drop a couple of crab pots. The creeks are heavily mangroved and good-sized muddies will find their way into the pots.

Rather than fishing the beach for whiting from the boat, Colosseum is quite an easy location to bring the boat ashore and walk the beach looking for gutters or fishing activity.

On the reef

Gladstone reefs were a little quiet last month as I haven’t heard of anyone bragging about their catches. There have been some good red throat caught from the wider reefs but the closer shoals and inner reefs have been fairly light on. However, with this month being one of the best months to get the boat onto the water, I am hoping for some more comprehensive catch reports.

The inner reefs and rock area around Gatcombe Heads and Facing Island are producing small catches of tuskers. Sable Chief is currently housing some nice tusk fish with the occasional sweetlip coming to the boat. On a calm day, there is nothing better than sitting in your boat in sight of a picturesque island like Facing.

If that location doesn’t produce the goods for you, it is only a short distance to Seal Rock, which is donating some small but legal cod to eskies at the moment.

What’s French for trout?

I spent a couple of weeks mooching around Europe on holiday and found myself in a little country villa in southern France not five minutes from a trout farm. I would drive past on my way to elsewhere and look into the farm to find a dozen or so fellows about my vintage sitting on chairs, within easy reach of an esky of sorts with a 3m whip stick fishing around this small pond.

I just had to drop in and check this out. To my amazement, the pond was teeming with brown trout. The language barrier did not help much but I understood that it cost 24€ for half a day fishing and you keep what you catch. When I handed over my 24€ and went to select a rod from the hundreds hanging up, I was met with a “Non! Non!” and found that you had to bring your own gear and all the rods belonged to the regulars.

I am not sure what the French for “Bugger!” is but the manager saw my disappointment so I had to be happy with talking to the guys at the water’s edge. Talking might be a little misleading – it was more a ballet of gestures, miming and acting out. But when I reached for my camera to take a couple of happy snaps, brown trout came from everywhere. French anglers, it appears, are not camera shy.

Local angler, Jacques showed me two sizable trout he had caught and proceeded to show how he stored his maggots in wood shavings to keep them alive and fresh as long as possible. The hooks were minute and sat just below a small float on the surface. Another angler brought up his catch bag and a whistle from the other side of the pond had me filming and photographing a trout being landed by yet another proud angler.

It’s amazing the universal language of angling!

The manager who obviously wanted to be a part of the action then came and took me on a tour of the facility including the holding tanks. As far as I could ascertain, he breeds the trout on site, keeps them in large holding tanks and he periodically chucks them in the pond. Commercial angling farms are often equated with shooting at fish in a barrel. But all the guys I saw were just loving it.

All looked very simple and very effective and a great way to wile away a couple of hours in the French countryside.

1

Macca holding a respectable red throat caught on Gladstone wider reefs.

2

Jacques and his French brown trout caught from the commercial pond behind.

3

The author didn’t need an interpreter to know this was a decent booty of French brown trout.

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