Facing towards fantastic fishing
  |  First Published: May 2008

Bring on winter is all I can say. The Central Queensland winter is a magic time of the year. The winds start to abate, the weather is usually a little more predictable and you are able to spend more time on the water.

The water at this time of the year is usually crystal clear so reef trips, particularly over shoals and bommies, should be on the cards.


The estuaries have been hit pretty hard lately with the previous month’s poor weather keeping boat fishers off the open water. Nevertheless, Gladstone’s estuaries continue to produce the goods.

Last month I took the grandkids on the boat for the first time to introduce them to the Calliope River and its wonderful stock of silver and black bream. This mangrove-lined river is a fabulous location for boating and fishing. It is a picturesque river and is loaded with fish. Queenies, salmon and flathead are frequent catches along the river edges and, as I showed last month, good quality barra can be pulled from the hot water outlet of the power station.

Water police have been patrolling the river often to check all safety gear. It is worth making certain your boat is appropriately equipped with all the necessary equipment. I keep the expiry dates of flares and my Epirb on the front dash as well as on the flare bottle. It is easy to forget these items if you are not constantly reminded.

the Reef

There have been a couple of windows of opportunity for reef trips this month but the smaller boats have to keep pretty close to shore in case a quick run home is needed. The rocky ledges off Facing Island have been giving up queenfish with mackerel being brought to those boats that are prepared to troll the drop-offs.

Sable Chief and East Point Ledge have been popular locations with smaller craft. Some good blue bones have been reported coming from the rock shelf around Sable Chief. On the calmer days, small red throat have been pulled from the rock shelves on the North Point.

Facing Island

If the weather is too rough to get out to the reef, you can do no better than an enjoyable weekend on Facing Island.

The prediction a few weekends ago was 20-knots or more, so a group of mates and I headed over to Facing for a weekend. Four of my mates, who no longer work fulltime, headed over Friday morning before the rest of us.

They sent us reports of their adventures during the day and apparently were catching thumper whiting along the ocean side of Facing. With the 20-knots expected to roll in for the next few days, I cursed my luck and expected to be relegated to the harbour side during the weekend.

Just as I drove my ute on to the afternoon barge with the weekend supplies, it started to rain. In fact, it pelted down – 50mm in two hours. Water was everywhere. I drove my ute off the barge in the rain and the dark, barely able to see the way to the ramp off the beach.

When I eventually arrived, I was shown the thumper whiting that were in the freezer by this stage. I should be used to having salt rubbed into my wounds.

All the next day we took refuge from the wind and rain by huddling inside. As the showers started to clear during the day we took the opportunity to flick prawns from Farmers Point into the small bay, which is normally fairly productive. However, today it seemed devoid of any life – least of all any whiting.

Nevertheless, on Sunday the skies had cleared, the winds had dropped and the neap tide meant we could fish the front beach all day. We headed off in a convoy only to find the weekend rains had made all the usual driving tracks to the ocean side impassable. Luckily no one knows Facing like Kelly so we were able to take an alternate route, which I wouldn’t have a hope of ever finding again.

I have no idea how but Kelly led us to the ocean side and the conditions could not have been better. While every boat in Gladstone headed to the reef, we were cleaning up on whiting and southern swallowtail dart. The water was crystal clear and pretty much weedless – perfect!

Fishing with kids

I am lucky enough to have five grandchildren but only two are old enough at the moment to go fishing with me. I have learnt a couple of tricks to make your time on the boat with youngsters more enjoyable.

Lifejackets are essential. Buy the most comfortable lifejacket you can afford for your young fisher. Allow your youngster to wear the lifejacket around the house. Resist the temptation to laugh as they get used to the bulkiness of the jacket.

Your young passenger needs to get used to the noise and the space limitations of the boat. Allow them to explore the boat while in the front yard and start the motor while they are in the boat. Handle the equipment and explain the gear they can’t touch.

Let them steer if they want to and even let them handle the throttle.

Let them get into fishing at their own pace. Both my granddaughters loved the whole boating/fishing experience. Maddison would bait the hook, hold the rod and wind in her fish, but there was no way that fish was going to come inside the same boat as her! Consequently every fish was released without getting inside the boat.

Always have a toilet on board for little girls.

If there is any better experience than teaching kids how to fish, I have yet to find it.

Hook Up

Don’t forget to grab hold of your Observer Boyne Tannum Hook-Up tickets. It is being held 6, 7 and 8 June with a limit of 3000 entries. This year the major prize is a Haines Hunter 600 classic with motor on a registered trailer. Entry forms are available early May. Check http://www.boynetannumhookup.com.au for details.

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