Winter options abound in Gladstone
  |  First Published: July 2016

As this issue hits the stands, the cold weather should well and truly moved in. Water temperatures should have dropped a few degrees and the winter species should have moved in. Well, at least that’s what most people think anyway!

In Gladstone we are blessed to have many options for barra and jacks throughout winter. The main option being the hot water outlet. There’s not too many local fishos that could say they haven’t chucked a line in here at some stage in their life. The trick for the hot water outlet is big baits! Most locals tend to prefer the locally made soft plastics when fishing in this area.

Artificial structures and light lines are a great place to start when searching for winter barra. Many a hot session has been had throwing big plastics and suspending hardbodies into the local wharf and bridge light lines over the years.

Threadfin have started moving through in good numbers and a lot of big fish are getting caught. We always have a good salmon run at this time of year, but I haven’t seen the quality we’ve been getting this year for quite some time.

My favourite style of fishing for threadies would have to be vibing. Whether they’re soft or hard vibes, it’s pretty hard to beat. Have a look on your sounder and work out where the salmon are sitting in the water column to work out the best way to fish. If they’re suspending mid water, try big long rolls, keeping the rod tip high and a reasonably quick retrieve. If there hugging the bottom. Short lifts with a slower retrieve. The idea is to keep your lure in the strike zone for as long as possible. Some spots to start are Worthington Island, Quoin Island, Grahams Creek, Lillies Beach, Calliope River powerlines and just about any gravel or rock bar in between any of these locations.

Big grunter have been popping up throughout most of our systems of late and will continue throughout winter. Something I’ve been having great success with over the past few weeks is micro-jigging for grunter. Grunter will often hang around deep gravel beds, rock bars and even shipping leads in the harbour. Any of these reasonably deep locations allow you to get right on top of the fish and drop micro-jigs down.

There are many different ways to work a micro-jig and each jig will perform differently. The best way to work out the best retrieve is to sample each jig in clear water and see how it lifts on falls. The idea behind micro-jigging is keeping the lure in the strike zone for as long as possible. There are literally hundreds of clips on the Internet to show you different techniques to use. I find 90% of my hits are on the fall, so make sure you’re always on the ball.

Having a good quality sounder makes a massive difference when looking for these fish. I was sounding around a few artificial structures in the harbour on a recent trip to find very little life. It was just by luck that I was only idling between structures about 500m apart from each other when I picked up a school sitting on nothing but mud nearly smack bang between the two spots. From the school I pulled five good grunter, a jew and even a barra, all on 30g micro-jigs before they finally spooked.

Largemouth nannygai will move into closer reefs like 12-Mile and the many wrecks not far from the harbour. These fish can’t say no to a well-presented micro-jig. Be sure to check assist hooks on these jigs when fishing for largies as a lot of the standard hooks won’t hold up to the pressure. Upgrading to better quality assists will ensure no fish are lost to terminal tackle failure.

School mackerel should start showing up in good numbers this month in all the likely locations such as Cape Capricorn, North Entrance, Sable Chief Rocks, Goat Rock and Ethel Rocks. All these locations are easily accessible in reasonably small trailer boats.

Try trolling a couple of divers until you find where this fish are located. Once located, some red-hot sessions can be had throwing chrome lures on light gear. Try to avoid using wire traces if possible. The increased bites will certainly make up for the 2-3 slugs you lose through bite offs.

Spanish mackerel have already moved in with reports of massive schools as close as Rat Island. Bigger fish are being picked around Rundle Island and Cape Capricorn. The best way to target the bigger fish is slow trolling big dead baits. The best being wolf herring and doggie mackerel, but please ensure if you do use mackerel they are of legal size.

I find the best way to rig these fish is to grab a big chin guard and then run a series of 10/0 mustard tarpon hooks with swivels in between. The number of hooks depends on the size of the bait. I normally hook the first hook back from the chin guard in the underside of the fish and the others I just keep in place down the side of the fish with rubber bands.

Some of the more serious anglers will stitch the hooks into the fish and have all their baits rigged and ready to go before they hit the water.

This time of the year most tackle shops should be able to get their hands on wolf herring, so pop in to your local and stock up as there pretty hard to come by and don’t last long when they have them.

• For more information on what’s biting, or to stock up with all the tackle and bait you need, drop into LJ’s Compleat Angler Gladstone at the Gladstone Marina on Bryan Jordan Drive. You can also check out the latest news, photos and specials at Facebook Compleat Angler Gladstone.

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