Huge Reefies – Bring It On!
  |  First Published: June 2007

Recently, most Gladstone fishers have been crying in their beers. That is if the wind hasn’t separated the frothy head from the glass.

I can’t remember a more consistent spate of strong and gusty south-easterly breezes. The only consolation, I suppose, is that fish around the reefs must be flamin’ huge by now, so look out when the weather clears. The cooler months around Gladstone are normally less windy, so bring it on!

Facing Fancy

In the meantime, thank goodness we still have access to top fishing spots including our islands. Last month we tackled Curtis so this month we packed the Ute with provisions and headed to Facing Island.

With strong winds battering the island from the southeast the only location where it was even possible to hurl bait into the water was Farmers Beach. Graham headed out at sparrows as is his habit; he went straight to his favourite spot, Farmers Point. Here a large sand bar reaches into the harbour and offers a variety of fishing opportunities as the tide ebbs and flows. The currents here regularly change the nature of the environment.

The harbour side is dappled and strong currents wash gravel back and forth – ideal for bait crunchers like bream and trevally. The beach side offers slow rolling waves over sand – ideal for whiting and flathead.

Sure enough, Graham pulled in several half decent queenfish and Macca pulled in a plate-sized trevally. Kelly and Jim pulled in several quality whiting from the Caves, just around the corner from Farmers Beach and I pulled in one miserable little, but legal, bream. It wasn’t one of our greatest fishing conquests but we knew our time would come.

In the Harbour

The ocean side of Rat Island is always a changing fishing environment. Burkie, who is a good mate of mine, regularly fishes here and always tells tales of huge parrot, sweetlip and trout.

This time he put his money where his mouth is, fronting up with two good quality morwong and the photo to prove it. Apparently morwong fillets are to die for if you soak them in milk before placing them on a hot barbecue plate.

Digging in close to Rat can keep you clear of the prevailing southeast breeze, which can run around Facing Island. There are quality clumps of coral at this location but these clumps are interspersed with piles of rock. You go through a lot of gear here but the rewards are usually worth it.

Family Fishing Holiday

We had a few days off and wanted to combine a relaxing break with our kids and grandkids as well as a few fishing opportunities. We decided to hire a 10-berth houseboat for a few days and motored up, down and around the Stradbroke Broadwater.

It was an inspired decision but I have to admit my wife, Bev, was the instigator. Sheer brilliance if you ask me! It’s pretty special to be able to keep the fishing rods armed with bait at your lounge room door ready to be flicked out at every opportunity.

Our houseboat was the Divan and it was one of several boats available from Coomera Houseboats, which I believe is one of the many companies servicing this market at the Gold Coast. Armed with QFM writer Mick Morris’ reports on where to fish around the Broadwater, you can’t go wrong.

We could access any waterway from the bottom of South Stradbroke to the top of North Stradbroke, excluding of course Jumpinpin. And we did.

Our first anchorage was just off the sandy beaches of Tipplers and we threw out prawns on long shanked hooks. It wasn’t long before I pulled in a BBQ plate-sized squire. I was quite pleased, given that these waterways must be the most fished in South East Queensland.

And as we motored around in luxury we pulled in bream, flathead, trevally and whiting wherever we went. My recommendation – if you ever get the chance – join the hundreds of house-boaters who enjoy travelling and fishing these beautiful waterways.

Late change!

Just before submitting this article to the editors, a lull in the winds occurred. My arms couldn’t have worked faster if I was airborne. The tarp came off my boat and the motor was kicked in the guts. There was a huge flurry of activity at all the boat ramps around Gladstone.

My mate Paul and I joined hundreds heading out to the reef and we followed a steady stream of eager fishers headed anywhere on the water.

Paul and I headed out to my favourite Rock Cod shoals to fish the south-western quadrant. The trip out wasn’t great as big swells were still impacting on ocean travelling but it was GREAT just to get out on the water.

We took a box of squid and some gar for our floaters. Within the first hour or so we had used half a box of squid and returned 95% of the fish we caught because they were undersized.

We were getting a little desperate but we persevered and kept fishing this area, mostly because moving in this persistent swell was a pain in the spinal column. I much prefer drift-fishing here, especially in big swells. Once I find a mark on the sounder and work out the path of drift I prefer to put in a couple of runs over the territory bouncing the bottom and keeping a floater wafting around out the back.

On this trip we were doing that and just moving our starting location a little.

We were fast using up our bait and only pulling up undersized fish and putting up with pickers. However, we were very patient and it wasn’t long before we were getting a hold of heaps of quality parrot, a nice selection of redthroat and some huge collared bream.

We also managed to bring a nice Spaniard to the side of the boat. Sadly, with a loss of concentration while I fiddled around for the gaff, it didn’t make it inside the boat. There’s a lesson for us all. A loss of concentration often leads to a loss of fish.

It looks like the big blow has gone, for a while at least. And that means plenty of trips to the famous Gladstone reefs. Bring it on!

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