New Year’s Mix
  |  First Published: December 2006

Gladstone’s fishing has been a mixed bag of late. Bigger boats have been heading out to Douglas Shoals, some 80km from Gladstone, and bringing home red emperor, red throat sweetlip, coral trout and coral cod.

Closer to home, the waters of Cape Capricorn are also giving up quality fish. There are several shoals around Cape Capricorn where hussars, red emperor, sea perch and nannygai are all being caught.

The harbour has been a little quiet but whiting have been hammering yabbies on Facing, particularly on the front beach at Farmers. Garfish have around the beach in numbers and while they are hitting prawn pieces on small hooks they are more easily trapped in bait nets.

I regularly use garfish as bait and until recently had never tried them on the plate. I can now say I am a convert! Garfish have to be run (flush the line by running the finger down the ventral vein). Once cleaned, fan the wing flats out, cut out the backbone, dip it in beer batter and lightly fry on a hot plate. Delicious!

The Bridges of Gladstone

Given the pace of modern living, there are times when the urge to go fishing is too strong to fight but you only have an hour or so. I always keep a few prawns in the freezer and at least one of my general rods geared up and ready to go. These little fishing windows are the perfect times to head to one of the many bridges in Gladstone. Each location has a number of interesting features.

Benaraby Bridge

This bridge crosses the Bruce Highway at Benaraby and is a great location for kids. The water is pretty shallow and quite safe for a paddle. It’s quite rocky so light tackle will keep the snags at bay. This is a popular location for weekend anglers but is usually quiet during the week.

An unsealed but driveable track leads to the southern bank of this river. The northern bank is accessible if you take the road to the caravan park. The northern bank is mangrove lined and has black and silver bream and mangrove jack.

Fishing upstream towards the Boyne River will usually bring grunter to the hook. You don’t have to be too fussy with grunter as they attack just about anything. If pickers persist in stripping bait, change to a smaller hook.

Bream will also feature in the catch list but these are usually the smaller specimens so be a little gentle when returning them to the water.

Calliope Dual Bridges

The road to these bridges is a little wilder. You don’t need a 4WD but good road clearance is an advantage. Both of these bridges have huge concrete pylons. You can target these with a squid strip cast from the bank. Throw to the pylons and aim to hit them. Let the squid drift slowly down the side. You might be lucky to hook up a greasy cod or two here.

The tide whistles along here so fishing just at the top of a small tide will maximise the time your bait stays in the strike zone.

Clinton Bridge

This bridge is on Hanson Road and traverses Auckland Creek. You can park safely on either side of the bridge. This is a great place for night fishing. The edges are well lit but the bridge sets up some dark holes for predators like flathead, tarwhine and bigger grunter.

The southern bank is mud so low tide here is awful and can leave you bogged and dirty. The northern bank has concrete steps from where you can cast directly under the bridge or over to the mangrove banks.

Intake Bridge

Within 50m of Clinton Bridge is Alf O’Rourke Drive. This bridge crosses Intake Canal, which supplies water to the Gladstone Power station. Access is blocked to most of this canal but the area under the bridge is great place to target flatheads.

The eastern bank is the best to try and while the mangroves in the canal are relatively sparse, greasy cod can hit baits hard here.

Calliope Bridge

You have to fight for a spot under this bridge on the weekend. This is the best of Gladstone’s bridges. This bridge is on Port Curtis Way and opens up a variety of options. The large central pylons are within easy casting distance and a fluttering bait will entice any greedy cod located here.

You can also cast into the anabranch while sitting in the shade under the bridge and snag onto a flattie, bream, grunter and the occasional trevally. I have heard of unconfirmed reports of jack being caught here.

The warm water from the power station drifts down on the ebbing tide and if you cast into the warm waters you may get onto a barra.

Give a kid a rod …

Fishing is about learning and Kin Kora State School, one of the largest state schools in Gladstone has developed a Wilderness Program that teaches primary students to develop an appreciation of sustainable fishing and surviving in the bush.

For many of the children this was the first time they held a fishing rod so the technique of rigging up and casting was quite a learning curve.

At school, the children learned how to collect water from the bush, rig up basic shelter as well as erect tents, camp cooking and fishing. When they demonstrated sufficient competency they headed over to The Oaks on Facing Island to put what they learned to practice.

There is nothing better than seeing a smile on a child’s face when they hold the first fish they caught themselves on a line they rigged themselves. It’s priceless.

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