After a few months of ordinary reports, the warm climate is starting to stir alive the Gladstone reef area.
Reports are still coming in featuring mackerel and spotties being caught around the Gladstone shoals. Venus tusk fish and trout have been sighted in the Rock Cod shoals and some sweetlip have been hanging around Rat Island.
Masthead is still a favoured location with red throat, red emperors and sweetlip featuring in the catch stories.
Ramsays Crossing is worth exploring at this time of the year and the mangrove edges will supply grunter, Moses perch and the occasional whiting. Use the tide to get into Middle Creek but be prepared to move out with the tide as it falls quickly. Get in close to the mangroves for salmon and the occasional queenfish.
Close in, the beaches around Barney Point are putting whiting in the fishing bag. This is an easy day fishing and a great location for kids. Either end of the beach seems to be more productive than the open beach.
Bream are biting along the beaches of Canoe Point, especially around the rocky spurs. And live yabbies can easily be collected from Wild Cattle Creek, which make killer bait for whiting.
Along Facing Island, check out the beach areas around Castle Rock. This is best fished on a rising tide so you can check out the beach profile as the water floods in and you move back.
Bev, my wife, is not really keen on the whole boating/fishing/camping scene and prefers to do other things rather than battle the elements on the water or the sand. Bev is quite a capable fisher, being able to bait her own hooks, cast, catch and release her own fish; she just prefers other activities.
We were on a couple of weeks leave together, so it took me by surprise when she readily agreed to my suggestion that we throw the tent and fishing gear in the boat and duck off somewhere.
The pressure was on. I had to select a picturesque location where camping was comfortable, fishing was productive, and minimum time was spent in the boat on open water. In Gladstone we are blessed with so many of these locations but Pancake Creek stands in a category of its own.
We loaded the boat with camping gear and food supplies and headed to Turkey Beach to sail out to Pancake Creek. It was a short run of about 15nm with minimum time in open water.
Large sand bars and sand banks made the entrance to Pancake Creek a little tricky, but relatively straight forward. When passing through Clew Point, keep it close to port and follow the small channel into the creek. Marker buoys and sets of leads can direct you through the rocks further into the creek, but this location is more suited to yachts.
The first beach inside the creek is the best for camping. This beach has beautiful white sand and is only 100m wide, separated from other locations by two large rocky outcrops. Entry to the beach is pretty safe with a sandy base clear of large rocks on which to rest the boat.
It is best to head into this beach on a perpendicular line and half beach the boat while steering towards the National Parks sign. The area directly in front of the beach is a large sand bar, but there is a small channel that is a little deeper than the surrounding area (see map).
You can also enter this location on the high tide and sit the boat on the beach for the duration of the stay. This area is well protected from all but the stronger northerlies. I keep aware of the tide charts so I know what time the boat will be floating again to organise the exit.
This beach has the advantage of a small water supply just behind the beach. It is a small poly pipe buried into a fresh water spring. The pipe is capped and a metal scoop attached to a tree can be dropped into the pipe to collect the water. This spring supplies a couple of litres at a time and then slowly refills. It certainly is a nice feature to have at your disposal.
There are plenty of great shady locations here, all of which make tremendous campsites. I have been here before so I headed just a few metres north of the National Parks sign. This location is flat, shady and, more importantly, close to the boat. I hate lugging heavy stuff up the beach because you have to lug it all back down again!
Fishing here is easy. In fact Bev and I just brought our chairs to the water’s edge, placed the bucket of bait between us and flicked into the water. We brought in enough flathead, bream and whiting for quite a few feeds, but because we had also brought food, we returned all to the water. It was easy and totally enjoyable fishing.
The oyster encrusted rocks on either end of the beach were also great fishing locations. Hook ups were frequent with solid flathead being the most consistent catch.
The area also has interesting bush walks, and the tracks are clearly marked and head off to a number of captivating locations. We headed to the Bustard Head lighthouse and received a guided tour of the facility from the caretakers. The walk is quite easy and is a two hour round trip. A small cemetery near the lighthouse demonstrates the tragic history of the area and is well worth the small detour from the main track.
Pancake is cursed with the occasional sandfly and mossie. In spite of the coils, wicks, sprays and creams we had on hand, we still came away with a few welts and bites. However, the spectacular sun set over the small hills at Pancake Point certainly makes this location worth this small inconvenience.
Just a reminder that the annual coral reef finfish is off limits for the annual spawning season closure. Coral reef finfish runs from November 3 to November 11 and December 3 to December 11, 2007 – it coincides with the new moons.
The closures apply to all Queensland east coast waters between latitude 10°41´S and 24°50´S (near the mouth of the Burnett River and Fraser's Waddy Point).
The closures only apply to those who are fishing for coral reef finfish and not to fishers taking Spanish mackerel or other fish species. The off-limits fish include coral trout, cods and gropers, emperors, parrotfish, sweetlips, tropical snappers and sea perches, among others.
A complete list of coral reef fin fish and Queensland's fishing regulations can be found on the Fishweb site at www.dpi.qld.gov.au/fishweb or phone the DPI&F on 13 25 23.Reads: 7140