January is a fabulous month in Gladstone. The reef spawning closures have finished, the morning weather is just made for easy boating and fishing and you have a gazillion fishing gadgets received as Christmas presents to try out. Ahhh – all is right with the world! And as the new year starts to come back into focus it is time to start planning possible fishing ventures for the next 12 months.
There is no doubt about it, January is the reef month. My favourite location is Rock Cod Shoals where you can drift or anchor up. Throwing out a floating pillie will nearly always get the attention of a mackerel but following the birds will also put you onto a patch of feeding fish. Bottom bashing is my preferred style here and it is a reef smorgasbord with red throat, sweetlip, trout and parrot all featuring on the catch list.
In the estuaries this month you have to go a long way to beat Trees Inlet for consistently supplying a feed. Trolling around the mangroves may entice a jack out but you can anchor in any of the drains and hammer into bream, fingermark and Moses perch.
Awoonga Dam will also be on fire this month. Judging by the number of boats at the ramp, every man and his rod believe barra are worth chasing here and good luck to them all.
You can’t start the year without a trip to Facing Island. Regular readers will already know I have a love affair with this Gladstone island jewel. Along with some like-minded mates, I spend at least four weekends per year hunting whiting.
On a recent trip to Facing we went on a night trip to Oaks Beach. This is a massive expanse of sand interspersed with small rock clumps and patches of seagrass. This is whiting heaven during the day and the perfect spot for a night trip. Our host for the weekend, Kelly Hutchings, managed to pull in several quality snub-nosed dart on our night fishing expedition.
These fish are tremendous fighters that use their wide bodies to create a drag advantage. They produce some startling runs just when you think you have the upper hand. Snub-nosed dart are a lot chunkier than other breeds of dart and are excellent tablefish.
During the day trip to the same beach our camp chef Jim caught a real surprise on his yabby – a diamond-scale mullet. These fish are commonly caught in bait nets but I have never heard of one being caught on a line before. Diamond-scale mullet are a first rate tablefish and also make great trolling baits.
Bass Shoals and Rundle Island are the hot spots in March. The ocean side of Rundle is famous for mackerel runs this month. Hitting the bottom between Rundle and Curtis Island will invariably pick up red jew. These shoals have lots of large bommies and shelves which are great areas to target.
During March it is worth checking out the Narrows. All the estuaries from Ramsay Crossing to Sea Hill will give up lots of sea perch.
This is a good month to head offshore to Seal Rocks. This clump of rocks holds some decent parrot, cod and sweetlip. It is a about a 45-minute trip from Gladstone along the main shipping channel. I prefer the northern side of the rocks and keep my rig just off the bottom to avoid those annoying snags.
As the months start to cool off, we move into the nicest time of the year to explore some of the best camping spots in Gladstone. These are great weekend or long weekend trips and there are lots of good sites from which to choose.
If you select Pancake or Yellow Patch, there are off-coast options to chase coral trout, jew and troll for mackerel. From Pancake you can head offshore to Outer Rocks and from Yellow Patch you can access Rundle Island.
The afternoons are a little more comfortable on the water this month, which makes it a good time of the year to park over some of Gladstone wrecks. These are fairly easily to locate – just look for a small group of boats anchored in a circle. Most of the popular wrecks are north or northeast of Facing Island.
Of course, the long weekend in June is the Boyne Tannum Hook Up. This is the prime fishing competition in Central Queensland and attracts fishers from all over Australia. It is expected that 2500 entries will be received this year, so don’t be late.
This is a good time of year to explore Colosseum Inlet. The northerlies make reef trips a little uncomfortable at this time, which makes heading south along the coast a good option. Colosseum is protected from most winds but the entrance can be a little tricky. Following water in makes it easier to get inside. The small clump of reef at the mouth of Colosseum Inlet is worth flicking over. The mangrove-lined inlet can be fished all over and houses some good sized sole.
August is my favourite flathead searching month. Rodd Harbour is worth hitting with fresh baits or your favourite soft plastics. Middle Creek, Boyne Creek and Norton Point are good flathead haunts but my favourite spot here is Mundoolin Rocks.
Salmon are starting to move down most estuaries in September. Threadfin is the prized catch and can be taken from most of the estuaries around Gladstone including the Narrows, Trees Inlet, the mouth of Calliope River, Black Swan and Middle Creek.
The Calliope River is a good location during September. The bridges and the anabranch are good bream haunts.
On the bigger tides, this is the month to give Graham Creek some attention. During the cooler months the sandflies and midges are less active. It can also be blowing a storm outside but barely a wispy breeze reaches Graham Creek. This makes it an ideal location during those days when the reef is out of the question.
With the reef closures this month you have to pick your weekend to travel to the reef. Cabbage Patch, 12 Mile Reef and the southern shelf of Rock Cod Shoals should hold some brute parrots and red throat this month. It is also a good time to keep the squid jig handy because they will quite often follow your catch to the boat.
It’s time to shake the mothballs out of your tent and camping gear and hit the beaches again for the best Gladstone has to offer in boating, camping and fishing.
All the best for your fishing year.Reads: 4336