Getting fresh after downpours
  |  First Published: March 2015

One season ends and another now begins with the last half of summer bringing us our substantial rainfall.

Gladstone received plenty of rain and some pretty intense thunderstorms, which contributed to our January rainfall totalling 248.8mm. I’m sure Lake Awoonga catchment area received the same if not more rain than Gladstone, and experienced inflows that saw the lake jump from 97% capacity to an overflowing 106%. Flowing over the dam spillway at a depth of 650mm it led to a mass influx of freshwater in the Boyne River.


Prior to the rain Lake Awoonga played host to a Barrabasstassic tournament with competitors weighing in 15 barra from the 25 angler field, with the longest measuring 89cm. The catches go to show that there’s still plenty of fish to be caught in Awoonga. Lake Awoonga now has boat hire right on its doorstep, with Lake Awoonga Boating & Leisure Hire (0457 929 889) hiring vessels of many different types, including 3.5m-4.5m smart wave boats, a 21’ BBQ pontoon boat, plus the sale of kayaks. Prices are very affordable, so if you are coming to the Gladstone area and don’t have a boat these are the guys to talk to. They also have a tow-and-go option making for ultimate user friendliness and portability.


The mass amount of water flowing into the upper Boyne River has affected the whole system right down to mouth and it has slowed down the fishing for the species that are specifically saltwater species. However fortunately for us here in this area out two prime river species, mangrove jack and barramundi, don’t mind the fresh. As a result barra have been the number one target with mangrove jack thrown in as by-catch. This was the plan for me when I fished the Upper Pikes Crossing a few weeks ago. While the conditions where like those of the floods two years ago when there were hordes of barra being caught, despite many casts I failed to raise a fish. That’s not to say there aren’t any fish present though, reports have come though of the odd barra being caught from the Pikes Crossing causeway, along with some jacks, while hard bodied lures have been the method of choice.

The stretch of the river from the weir to Benaraby has seen some solid metre plus barra caught, with the majority of them caught at night on live mullet. With the dam dropping back towards 100% capacity and the flow of freshwater in the river beginning to ease the tides will finally give saltwater a chance to push back up the river, which should see plenty of 450-550mm grunter and flathead come out to play.


South Tree Inlet hasn’t been affect by the fresh as much as the Boyne with good captures of some stonka sized barra being caught on mullet at the Boyne end and at Toolooa Bends. Grunter and Salmon have been in good numbers heading towards Lilley’s, with plenty of reports of flathead being caught on soft plastics and live nippers.


I was able to make it out to Rock Cod Shoals on one of the few weekends that we had good weather and suitable conditions for my 4.55m Polycraft, and I found the fishing good on many levels. I find drifting the area is the best way to fish the shoal, and caught plenty of legal sized red throat emperor, with a few tuskfish thrown in for good measure.

There were plenty of birds out and about, and being unable to resist a bit of pelagic action I headed off in pursuit and was rewarded with multiple mack tuna. While mack tuna aren’t much of a table fish they are great sport on light line. Masthead Island is fishing much the same way as Rock Cod Shoals with a few extra species such as coral trout, spanglies and grassies adding to the list of fish on offer.


When the wind is up a great spot to check out is Turkey Beach. A location with plenty of sheltered creeks to explore, Turkey Beach offers a lot of angling options, with whiting to tuna on offer in Rodds Bay, while barra, jack and salmon are prime targets up the creeks.

While at Turkey Beach not that long ago a few mates and I decided to hold a small comp between us, dubbed, ‘The Prawn Star Classic’. Basing our comp from our comfortable and affordable holiday rental the objective was to use either car or boat to reach to our fishing destination, and catch the target species, mangrove jack. Google was used to garner important location information and despite challenging fishing it was Jeff Crane’s 42cm fish caught on a live mullet fished from the shore that claimed bragging rights and the winner’s trophy. Matt Prykes 87cm bluefin salmon caught on a Rapala Xrap was another standout fish from the competition as was Liam ‘R.B’ Kendall’s 73cm flathead caught on a Squidgy Slick Rig.

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