Prawn run sets estuaries alight
  |  First Published: December 2015

December is upon us bringing hot weather, and from all reports it seems like we are looking like we are in for a dry summer. What this means to all fishos is smoking pelagic action, estuaries firing up and crabs back on the menu!

Boyne and Calliope rivers

The rivers are producing good numbers of golden snapper, flathead and mangrove jack to almost 50cm. Targeting jacks? The Boyne River seems to be fishing better for jacks than the Calliope with good catches in both the upper reaches and toward the mouth. Jacks are very aggressive and make their home among structure, so working along the banks and covering as much ground as you can is the way to go. The more ground you cover the better your chances are of finding them, and once you have your first catch, work the area surrounding. Any structure, no matter how small or large, is worth working over. If you get one, chances are you’ll find more.

Jacks also like current as it pushes the baitfish past where they’re sitting, so the top of the tide and start of the run-out is best. When the water is moving faster, the jacks will be feeding.

Night fishing for this species seems to produce better results, and if you’re not into lures, strip baits and prawns are a good option for bait. Don’t make the assumption that all your hits will always come close to the structure, they more often than not will hit half way back to the boat, especially with lures, so make sure you retrieve all the way back in.

With prawns running through the systems there are many species that come out to play, and who doesn’t like a fresh feed of prawns, right?

Grunter are notorious prawn hunters, so the ‘find the bait, find the fish’ adage rings true for grunter. They feed very aggressively at night time and the turn of the top of the tide is prime time. Mangrove-lined banks are a great place to target, and Gladstone has many a system that is bountiful with mangroves, we have seen some cracking catches over the past month. Gravel patches with good run should also go on your hit list, so too should the mouths of both rivers where you have sandy beaches.

Both rivers are showing good quality flathead, and river mouths and around the shallows are giving good results. Hardbodied lures and soft plastics are both equally rewarding anglers and for the bait people, beach worms lightly weighted.


With hot days and northerly winds the pelagic action over the coming months should be hot to say the least. We are very fortunate to have such diverse fishing options right at our front door, and Spanish mackerel are on most peoples’ bucket list. There a few who are yet to experience the action, and these fish can bleed 100m of line on the first hit in seconds.

There are lots of techniques to catch these bruisers. The main ones being trolling, floating, jigging and live baiting. Stripies or fusilier are in abundance around our reefs and work exceptionally well, jigging chrome jigs is also very effective as these fish can be caught at the bottom or the surface. When trolling, mix up your lures and try trolling and floating gar and pillies, keeping your trolling speed to around 4 knots.


There are many options when targeting Spanish, you can catch them around both entrances to the harbour, around the Channel markers, around Facing Island and Oaks. Fishing out wide gives you endless possibilities, so Sykes, Cabbage Patch and the 12-Mile are all fishing very well. Reports of by-catch in the form of tuna, cobia and all other mackerel species have also been flooding in.

Reef fish

Sykes, Cabbage Patch and around the deeper edges at Rock Cod are bringing in good feeds of red-throat and coral-trout are showing up in good numbers, especially around the deeper drops offs past Sykes. Sound out the deeper areas and you will find fish, and red emperor should also be on the target list as they are bringing a big smile to many anglers out there.


Lake Awoonga is showing good signs with the warmer waters throughout December to January. This is one of many options for barra within close range of Gladstone in closed season.

Barramundi tend to feed better early morning, late afternoon and night time, and they love the shallows. If we are lucky enough for the dam to stay out of flood, then you should be able to target these areas. Also look closely at the creek entrances; with a bit of wind pushing the water toward the creeks, which in turn will push bait in.

If any of you would like to share pics and stories with me you can email me on --e-mail address hidden-- , or you can join my Facebook group Gladstone Fishing Network, it’s great way to keep in touch with what is happening in our waters or to share a story or two.

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