Glad to be on the water in April
  |  First Published: April 2008

The recent heavy rains have certainly impacted on the fishing environment around Gladstone. All creeks are bursting with fresh water and this tends to chase most species towards the mouth. So this is where the action will be.

In the Estuaries

The Boyne River passes under the highway at Benaraby and solid grunter, bream and salmon can be found along the gravel banks east of the highway. This section is just off the Bruce Highway and conventional vehicles can follow most tracks right to the edge of the water. That makes this location fairly popular most days, especially on the weekend where you might have to fight for your own space.

On the western side of the bridge, towards Pike’s Crossing, numerous bush tracks lead everywhere and most end up at the backwater of the main river. These tracks are accessible by high clearance vehicles and I wouldn’t go without a 4WD. This river meanders peacefully towards Pike’s Crossing and with the recent rains swelling the waterways, good flatheads and grunter are being caught.

A canoe would be just the shot at these locations where you could get into the deeper areas and target the mangrove edges.

The deeper reaches of the Calliope are still a bit muddy. These conditions tend to bring in the omnipresent catfish. As much as I like to get into the nooks and crannies of Gladstone Rivers, this is not the best time of the year to do it. Wait a few weeks for the water to clear and then head in to chase the flathead.

The mouths of the rivers on the other hand are giving up good species of fish. Along the Calliope River, the mangrove edges of the Beecher reaches are currently housing dozens or more of smaller bream. If you are on the ball, the occasional thumper will stretch your line.

The mangroves adjacent to the Beecher cliff face proved productive on our last trip down the Calliope. We managed to hook up to more than a few smaller bream. While it kept us busy, only a few found their way onto the ice.

Towards the mouth at Wiggins Island, whiting have been caught on the sand banks of the southwestern edge. These are best fished at high tide with live yabbies are doing the trick.

The anabranch that snakes around Black Harrys Island hold some good bream at high tide. Here I target the larger mangroves that hang over into the creek. I have found that peeled prawns on light tackle do best. If you dig the boat right into the mangrove, unweighted or very lightly weighted peeled prawns seem to be hit more consistently.

The recent rains have moved so many nutrients down the river so the hot water inlet near the power station is the place to fish from the boat. The gravel bottom in the area has kept it fairly clean, and it is also a good spot to flick from the banks.

Recently Will Greer was hammered by a monster barra while flicking lures into the warm waters of the hot water outlet of the power station. He was flicking from the bank and working the lures quickly back when the barra hit. It took him 10 minutes to bring the monster to the edge and attracted quite a crowd during the fight.

In the Harbour

While the conditions on the reef start to settle down a little, the island of Gladstone Harbour make worthy day trips. Once you get through the main Gladstone shipping channel, it offers considerable protection from the prevailing winds.

The rock groin on the southern tip of Turtle Island is a great spot to flick for bream and grunter. On an outgoing tide it is a good location to park the boat on the southwestern tip, berley into the rocks and follow the berley trail. Thumper bream will hit your bait and run straight back into the rocks, so keep your tip up.

The southeastern side of Garden Island is also a good location. You can get hold of some good grunter and fingermark. It is fairly shallow so you need a bit of water to get close to the rocks. The best spot is immediately in front of the beach.

The northwest side of Tide Island is renowned for large cod. Just in front of the boat ramp a hole of about 20m holds some very big fish. The tide whistles past this location so it is quite difficult to stay anchored over the hole. The cod are big in this area so the best gear is needed and it takes some encouragement to bring them up.

The public jetty on the western edge of Picnic Island is a successful fish attracting device. Moses perch, finger mark and stripies can all be caught here.

Farmers Reef has not being fishing strongly for the past couple of months but I am getting reports of some large blue-bone being caught just on dusk using live yakkas and mullet.

On the Reef

There have been very few reports of fishing activity on the reef. A few mates did manage to slip out to Rock Cod Shoals on a recent weekend and brought back a good feed of red throat sweetlip. But the trip was cut short when a storm blew up and chased them back to the harbour.

A few boats have ventured to the small reefs around Rat Island and have reported grabbing hold of a few pan-sized tuskfish, but they tell me the swell was stomach wrenching so they didn’t stay long.

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