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Jacks in the Calliope
  |  First Published: June 2012



While all the attention lately has been on the barra in the Boyne River, one of my intrepid readers, Craig, ventured up the Calliope River at mid day for a couple of hours. He launched his 11ft tinnie fitted out with a stealthy electric motor at the Calliope Camp Grounds and headed upstream to the brackish waters.

When he got to his spot he started to hit the snags with his X-Rap lure. He managed to pull in 37cm barra, which was followed up by a small tarpon the very next cast.

Craig continued hammering the bank when he came upon some sunken logs surrounded by lilies.

He fired his lures and worked them parallel to the logs. He received a couple of small hits so he sent the lure straight back in and was immediately taken back into the snags. It was a tug of war for the next 10 or so minutes but Craig managed to pull out one cracking 49cm jack. It was also being chased by a catfish that rather fancied the jack for dinner. Craig snapped some shots before returning all the fish to the water.

You can see more of Craig’s pictures and reports on www.fishgladstone.com.

On the Reef

All reef areas have been firing and I have been listening to report after report of great catches of sweetlip, trout and red throat. The shoals have been productive with Rock Cod shoals proving the best, but the reef areas around the island have been the real winners.

Masthead and North West have been well worth visiting and big trout have been brought to the boats that have made the trip.

Top 5 Winter Estuary Spots
Anabranch

This estuary hangs off Calliope River. It is mangrove lined with some big holes along the mud banks. My favourite hole lies directly opposite dumped machinery sitting on the northern bank.

Large mangrove trees hang over the water, setting up shade and light variations, ideal as a small fish hang out. A large drain fills at high tide and provides a great hiding place for all sorts of fish. When water exits, whatever is inside the drain must come out.

Middle Creek

This is the first estuary after Black Swan Island. Right at the mouth of the creek is a small mangrove islet. On a flooding tide, water races around both sides of this islet but on the lee side, the mangroves wrap around and protect a small bay. There are plenty of snags to target with lures. I have brought home some quality threadfin from this location but the challenge is to turn them away from the snags.

Picnic Island

If you can handle a short trip across the harbour, the rock spur reaching out from Picnic Island sets up protection from the weather and a nice little bay to target bream and grunter. I have even brought sweetlip, fingermark and Moses perch to the boat at this location. On an ebb tide you can anchor up with the stern facing into the rock wall. Floating towards the rocks keeps the bait in the strike zone and just off the rocky bottom.

Hobble Gully

This is the second major estuary to branch from Graham Creek. It is quite a wide waterway with a mangrove and sand bar at the mouth. This bar is the home of some good-sized grunter and surprisingly some elbow slapping whiting. I have found light tackle and peeled prawns excellent bait here. The deep holes along the eastern banks are the home of some good cod.

Wiggins Island

At the mouth of Calliope River sits Wiggins Island. The sandy patches are productive yabby banks. However, the soft mud around the sand banks discourages most pumpers. From personal experience you can sink down to the knees in the mud. Doing the army crawl with the yabby pump in your mouth and a bucket hooked onto your toes makes pumping yabbies less desirable. Even so, the yabby banks make this area a whiting and bream haven.

The Reefs in June

Conditions will determine whether you can get out in June. The water can be crystal clear and as smooth as glass or it can be like soup in a dishwasher.

Rat Island is worth a look this month. Anchor up on the ocean side towards Curtis Island. When the tide heads out, it fairly whistles between Rat and Curtis islands. If you can sit in the lee of Rat and cast just to the edge of the flow, you will be rewarded with some huge silver bream. These big brutes tend to sit out of the current and strike like lightning at anything that drifts past.

With the Boyne-Tannum Hookup on the Queen’s Birthday weekend, it will be a busy time on the water in Gladstone. Boat ramps will be extremely busy and will require patience. Make sure all your safety gear is up to scratch before setting out.

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