The right places to fish in Gladstone
  |  First Published: December 2016

Over December, we saw great catches coming from Awoonga Dam, which is great to see.

Early morning and late afternoons are the pick of the bite times. Big rubbers like Castaics and Slick Rigs seem to be producing the most fish. Justin Nye from Gladstone Fly and Sportfishing has been producing the goods consistently over the past month. If you’re visiting the area and want to get into some Awoonga barra, give Justin a call.

When the barra closed season is on, head west to Lake Callide. Only an hour west of Gladstone, this dam is starting to really fish well, with some quality barra around the metre mark. Like Awoonga, Lake Callide lost most of its fish due to flooding events. The Callide Valley Native Fish Stocking Association have worked tirelessly to get the dam back to its former glory days. They need a massive pat on the back for getting it to where it is now. Well done, mates.

Sooty grunter are starting to pop up more and more out Awoonga. They seem to like the deeper timber in the dam. Fish up to 50cm+ pop up more and more. I’ve spent quite a bit of time exploring the upper reaches of the Boyne River and Futter Creek. It’s amazing how far upstream these fish will travel and what small water holes they are living in. The positive sign is I’ve caught fish from 20-50cm, so they’re thriving in this environment and breeding throughout the system. These are just another species to target in the long list of fish in Central Queensland.

The harbour and the narrows have been fishing reasonably well, with good grunter still about in numbers. Small plastics and micro-jigs have once again been the stand out baits. Black jewfish are still around any deeper holes with some absolute crackers coming from the tidal island area over the past few weeks.

Good numbers of whiting have been reported on Southend Beach, Farmers Point and along the inside of Facing Island. For something different and a very exciting way to fish, have a go at these guys on small poppers or stickbaits.

On a recent trip to Jenny Lind Creek, I spent an afternoon throwing micro poppers and stickbaits for whiting and it was one of the most exciting sessions I’ve had in a long time. Watching 30cm whiting pack attack a small popper in a foot of gin clear water is as exciting as any form of fishing. By-catches of small GTs, flathead, bream and even a cranky little gar made for a fun afternoon.

The marina has always held coral trout, mainly due to the live trout export from the harbour. Whether it’s a few fish falling over the side when unloading, or the fish don’t make 38cm as expected going into the live tank and are thrown over the side – I’m unsure. Over the past few weeks I’ve seen more trout caught in the marina than I have from out wide.

Crabs have started to show up in most of the estuaries. There are plenty of them, but a lot are empty and not worth taking. This isn’t uncommon for this time of year. Quality should start improving from now on. Touch wood we get a little more rain to really get them moving. On a recent camping trip, I tried the Hayes Deluxe crab pots for the first time. These are a top entry dome type pot. At first I was sceptical, but it was the stand out pot and I will be investing in a few more.

On the reef, catches have been steady when the wind eases off. I don’t remember having such consistent northerlies over such a long period of time. Hopefully that means we’ll have a good start to 2017. Red-throat emperor are thick around most of the reefs at this time of year. Getting through the just legal ones to find the better quality is the hard part.

Stickbaits, micro-jigs and 7” plastics will get you quality fish! I’ve found the trout to be a little quiet for this time of year over the past month. Normally this is prime time for trout, but I’ve had a few reports coming back of poor numbers. Emperor have been in good numbers in the 40m+ depths around the shoals and further east.

We managed to nab a good feed on isolated bommies around Guthrie Shoals recently and all the good fish around the 10kg mark were taken on smaller baits. I was amazed to see the number of brown Maori cod that came aboard. This is normally a sign of a healthy, unpressured reef.

At one stage I managed five in a row while everyone around me was catching emperor. Unhappy with this, I went to my old faithful bait of a whole hussar side with the tail left on and still couldn’t manage one. All the emperor were caught on smaller pieces of fresh local squid. These isolated bommies didn’t produce one trout!

Once again, sharks gave us a lot of grief when the fish really came on. This is starting to become an issue every trip. Using plastics and jigs, it adds up when you lose your gear every second drop due to sharks taking your fish.

Throughout January, expect to see good numbers of jacks throughout most of the estuaries around Gladstone, especially when the storms start rolling in of an afternoon. This is when the surface bite can really turn it on and some of the most exciting jack fishing can be had. The Lucky Craft Tone Splash and Lucky Craft Gunfish are up there with the pick of surface lures.

A new product to keep an eye on is Reflexion’s new 5” jerk minnow. This thing looks like an absolute jack killer. The 5” Bammer is already up there with my pick of the jack plastics, but the jerk minnow takes the cake!

Remember barra closure is still going. If barra is what you want, head to one of the impoundments. Give Justin Nye from Gladstone Fly and Sportfish a call. He has been producing the goods out there over the past month. He is as good as any and will get you onto the fish!

• 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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