Over January the northerlies blew a consistent 20-25 knot ‘gutser’ and kept boat trips offshore to a minimum or at least restricted to the creeks and rivers.
On the odd calm day, my son Adam and I zipped out to the Rock Cod Shoals. With afternoon storms predicted we went out for the morning before heading home when the inshore change brought stronger winds. On these days I always try to keep the flow of water working with me rather than against me. I travel out on falling water and travel home with the tide. If you are lucky enough to have the wind with you, it makes for much more comfortable boating.
I planned to test out my theory that the shallower sections of these shoals are more productive during the warmer months. Recent trips indicated this but I just wanted to put it together a little more in my mind.
We had being working the deeper sections without much luck but when we drifted over the shallower sections we were on the money. Red throat emperor started hitting our floaters and large parrot were bumping our bottom baits. We were ducking between our rods in the holders and rods in our hands with more fish than we could handle.
Just like last month when Greenie and I tested out these shoals, as we drifted away from the shallower shelf into depths greater than 15m, we lost the bites. When we moved back to the shelf and drifted again, the bites resumed. Enough evidence for me but maybe another couple of trips would prove this once and for all.
There have been mixed reports from other areas around Gladstone. Some reef fishers haven’t come back very happy with their catch. I have heard reports of some healthy grassy sweetlip from the Jenny Lind Creek. This little creek is not for the faint-hearted as seas break across the channel in all but calm weather.
I have also heard of some good reports from Pancake Creek. Pancake is one of my top locations for beach camping but these reports come from boats anchored in the upper reaches of the main creek. There are plenty of top spots along the length of Pancake, featuring small rocky and coral outcrops, sandbars and drop-offs. You can find sweetlip, parrot and trevally here. Some queenfish have been caught in the further reaches of this creek according to reports.
Navigation markers and leads will direct boaters through the heads. This rest is up to you as you to navigate around the yachts anchored in these waters – but it is usually worth it.
During March, I plan on hitting the Bass Shoals and getting onto the mackerel runs on the northern side of Rundle Island. The Bass Shoals are not as large as Rock Cod Shoals but still offer a range of fishing attracting bommies and drop-offs. Jew are worthy targets here especially if the summer rains pelt down and get the water flowing into Cape Capricorn.
The Calliope River has been recording some decent grunter coming from the gravel bars located the length of the river; all of which are easy to find. These gravel bars are frequently found around the power lines that traverse the river. Some good whiting are also being pulled from the river. On the hottest CQ summer days, fish go right off the bite as the water here becomes almost tepid.
On these beautiful summer afternoons, it’s worth getting the whiting rod out from the cupboard and heading to the waters of Wild Cattle Creek. This creek will also supply enough yabbies for the afternoon session. The gutters near the boat ramp are also worth dropping some bait into. Whiting here are usually good solid specimens.
At low tide you can walk across Wild Cattle Creek and head over to Wild Cattle Island and fish the ocean waters for harbour whiting. You have to time the return trip to coincide with the low tide at the creek or have a boat at the ready to bring you and your catch back. Warning signs indicate that this area is dangerous for swimmers as the water rushes in and out with considerable force.
It is worth venturing down the Narrows this month and flicking into any of the estuaries. The drains of Targinnie Creek are good for bream but what is generally not known, is that the sandbanks here will also put some good quality whiting into the esky.
Prawns will start appearing in numbers in most of the creeks of the Narrows in early March so have a prawn net handy.
Black Swan should hold some decent bream along the many mangrove drains. I get the boat right in there and pepper most of the drains over and over again.
Adam and I had the luxury of going on a holiday charter for a half day trip to the Barwon Banks in Caloundra. Our first drop was along the southwestern gutters ranging from 40-50m depth and with considerable shale on the bottom. This gutter apparently is the transit route for all kinds of fish headed to and from the Barwon Banks - a sort of piscatorial highway.
After settling on anchor, skipper Brett gave the signal to drop baits and it was on. Baits were getting hit on the way down. Just what you hope from charter fishing! We were all getting hit by yellowtail kingfish, which pull like trucks. Because kingfish fish school up, everyone was bringing them onboard so it was bedlam for a while and the deckie, David, had his hands full helping control the flow of fish into the boat.
When the kingfish went off the chew, the pearlies and snapper were on and we were taking big hits all around the boat. Several double hook-ups made for interesting retrievals especially from 50m depths. Even a cobia found its way into the boat.
This trip was everything a good charter should be.
Yellowtail kingfish are good eating but the flesh can be strong in flavour and dry in texture. It is really not suited to the BBQ plate.
Place each fillet in its own buttered foil pocket and rub peppercorns, salt and tabasco sauce into the lightly scored flesh. After placing chopped onion and capsicum on the fillet and covering with canned tomatoes, seal the foil pocket and drop it on the grill for 20 minutes at the lowest heat and without turning. Delicious and will work for all type of stronger flavoured fish.