Big rains bring on the fish!
  |  First Published: January 2016

The festive season has delivered some very cheerful fishing for all who have indulged in the abundant angling options in and around Gladstone. The estuaries have produced nice full crabs, plenty of jack, grunter, and salmon as a result of afternoon storms over the past month. Inner reefs and out wide are equally giving up the goods on pelagic and reef species action.

I’m sure many of you still have family and friends visiting the area, so it’s prime time to head out and show off some amazing fishing both in the rivers or out to the many reefs. Please keep in mind that it’s one thing to catch a nice feed, but another to show off by catching and keeping as much as you can – we need to sustain what we have for the future of the sport we all enjoy.


Deep water from 50-100m has delivered some amazing marlin and mahimahi during December and will continue to produce over January and February for those with the ability to venture out wide. Spanish, school and doggies have been caught over all the reefs, around channel markers in particular, but fairly well everywhere. Mackerel chase the bird action and flicking silver spoon lures at them is a sure hit. Floated baits, pillies, iodine bream fillets and of course, livies are also effective. I always have a rod in the holder with floated bait, no matter if I am fishing rivers or reefs. Because of this technique, I almost always come home with a prize – recently I brought home a snapper that was over a meter in length that was caught bottom bouncing over an artificial reef. In the rivers, a common catch is cobia – though not always great in size, these fish are a lot of fun on light line. Red emperor have shown up in numbers and are finally showing some size. Fresh strip bait seems to be the most effective baits according to consensus among the fishing community; and I do emphasise, ‘fresh is best.’

Sykes and Masthead have fished well for red-throat, cod and tuskfish; in fact if we had kept all that we had caught on my last trip out to Rock Cod we would have bagged out on tuskies. My son Ethan landed a nice 57cm fish and the rest were all around that size, great day!


As predicted, the crabs have arrived and are full of meat. Some large crabs have been caught through all the systems. We’ve had some big tides and rain that has stirred the crabs up, and the best bait has to be fresh. Fresh chicken carcass, fresh mullet, catfish, and other meats will attract a feed of crustacean. If, as the day progresses, you find that your crab catch is declining then freshen your bait – professional crabbers change their bait up to three times a day to optimise the catch.

Jew are on the chew, albeit not record contenders, but good eating sized fish. Fish around the wharves where permitted, and deeper holes throughout the harbour and along rock walls. The incoming turn of the tide into structure will yield good results.

Species wrap up

Grunter are firing in both the Boyne and Calliope. Work the river mouths and offshore with silver minnow hardbodied lures and you’ll be guaranteed a few good whiting. You’ll also find a nice catch of flathead off the beaches and around sandy flats. If you want to target flatties in the river, try the hot water outlet, the pontoon at the NRG boat ramp, around the bridges where you see good rock structure and Toolooa Bends.

I would like to remind everyone of the importance of knowing possession limits when fishing reef fin species. There have been reports of fines handed out recently in our area and this is unacceptable. If you don’t know you will get caught and your hip pocket and our sport get hit hard. There is plenty of information out there. If everyone educated themselves on this issue, there would be a lot more respect for the sustainability of our waterways. You also need to remain aware that what is in your freezer at home is also counted as ‘in your possession.’ Queensland Fisheries will advise you on what your limits are per person, and reef fish as a whole, so please visit the website or give them a call and we can continue to enjoy what we have for generations to come.

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