Harsh winds spice up fishing
  |  First Published: December 2007

I hope the winds die down a little this month. The winds have been howling 20 or more knots for the last month and for some reason pick up even more for the weekend. It has been a terrible month for weekend fishers with most boats anchored firmly to the back yard.

It is 2008 and I know things are going to be better for the new year. It is a good month to put all those Christmas presents to the test. If you are a known fisher, I am sure you will have scored a lot of new gadgets from Santa.

In the Estuaries

Estuaries are the place to be and quite a few fishers have headed to the Toolooa Bends. The large rock outcrops are supplying bream and the mangrove edges are full of grunter. Fingermark are being caught in the drains on a rising tide and small prawns seem to be the trick.

The Boyne River near Benaraby is also giving up some small grunter. Work the areas under the highway where water is flowing over the deeper rocky bottom. The water movement displaces food morsels and this really gets the fish going. Use a light berley for best results.

Further up near the main road bridge, the river splits into two streams for a short section and flathead can be found in the deeper holes. The bottom is still fairly rocky and there are small sections of gritty sand where flathead sit in wait. Bouncing across the rocks is a good way to get noticed by flathead and they usually hit hard.

Towards Peaks Crossing you can get onto pike and whiting. The pike will jump like blazes and earn their name as the poor man’s marlin. This area is accessible by conventional vehicle along the dirt track. You are really only a few kilometres from the main road but the area is a little slice of calm. It has the appeal of seeming to be hundreds of miles into the bush.

Sea Hill

While the wind is blowing, head up the Narrows and up to Sea Hill. Sea Hill offers good protection from the south easterlies but is open to any wind from the north or west. It is a tremendous place to camp on the beach.

At the base of the Sea Hill lighthouse is a small inlet, which dries at low tide but is a haven for bream as it floods.

Sea Hill was once a settlement for pilots of ships entering Port Alma and Fitzroy River. The area behind the beach dunes has signs identifying past features of the town including hotels, town houses and the cemetery. It is worth a stroll into the bush just to have a look.

High tide in the morning is the best time to camp on the beach. You need to be able to read the tide watermarks on the beach and accurately predict the height of the next high before attempting beach camping. If you are there when low tide is at night, you feel a little more secure on the beach. There is nothing scarier than having your campsite flooded by the incoming tide in the dark.

The beach from Sea Hill to Warner Point is a whiting haven. It is a great flick and walk beach. Flick into the waters on an incoming tide and continue to walk up towards the rocks at Warner Point. There are also a few yabby banks along the beach and in the small inlet under the lighthouse.

Pacific Creek

Just south of Sea Hill is Pacific Creek. Leads identify the route into this creek and it is advisable to keep north of the main channel.

The creek is wide and offers fabulous sheltered fishing. There is a deep 10m hole at the mouth of the first tributary. After dodging all the crab pots, drop anchor inside this small tributary and cast into the hole and the mangrove banks.

River perch are prevalent and you can catch hundreds. These fish aren’t known as good sportfish and sometimes you don’t even know they are on the line until you feel a bit of pressure. But they are quite an acceptable table fish and very tasty when lightly grilled.

On the Reef

It really is smorgasbord time on the Gladstone reefs and all species should be active targets during January.

I like to bottom bash this time of year, although surface poppers will pull in the pelagic species. Target any of the shoals and Cape Capricorn for coral trout.

A large school of bludger trevally scooted past of one our recent trips to Rock Cod Shoals. They are better baitfish than table fish because of their dark oily flesh.

If the conditions are right, it is worth a trip to Hummocky Island. The northern bay and the northeastern headland locations are where I usually head. I generally steer clear of the north western and the southern sides because of the rocks and shallows. Hummocky is easily reachable from the Narrows but if boat fuel is a concern, it can be accessed after only a short run from Port Alma.

Rock Cod shoals is a very popular and consistent spot when the weather warms up. It is still Gladstone’s number one boat-fishing location with red throat, sweetlip and venus tusk fish the most targeted and preferred species.

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