Most of Gladstone’s shoals have been producing good catches of coral trout. Anglers who have ventured out further to Masthead have also brought home some quality trout. But, you don’t have to travel out that far, good trout have been yanked from the waters of Bass Shoals near Rundle Island and Rock Cod Shoals.
I haven’t heard any reports of salmon yet, but threadfins should, hopefully, start appearing in the waters of the Narrows any time now.
I believe that the cooler months will bring out the bigger flathead. Most estuaries are good haunts for regular size flatties but fish the deeper holes for the bigger specimens. My favourite holes are in the Calliope Anabranch and Trees Inlet. There are quite a few and they’re easy to find.
Other good areas to try include: the mangrove edges of the area around Wiggins Island, the waters of Rodd Harbour, in holes along Tongue Spit and along the rocky edges of Seven Mile Creek. Start at Middle Head and move around to Innes Head checking the deeper spots.
Flatties are usually more aggressive during the warmer seasons and will attack almost anything but as it gets cooler they become a little fussy and will usually only attack the freshest of baits. Use fresh prawns (any size) and a running sinker above a 30-40cm trace on a swivel. I use nothing less than 10kg line this time of the year and that still makes the battle interesting. The rig has to put up with some solid headshakes from these brutes so consider a strong leader.
Now that most of the oil from the tanker accident has reportedly cleared and the DPI, through their website, has given the all clear, May is a good month to rediscover Gladstone Harbour. One of the most fished spots in Gladstone is Rat Island.
Rat Island stands like a sentinel at the Northern Entrance to Gladstone Harbour. That’s quite poetic considering it’s little more than a clump of rock.
It’s an easy and relatively safe run for just about any boat. With Facing Island to the east and Curtis Island to the west, Rat Island is protected from all but the strongest northerlies. It is however surrounded by strong tidal flows – water whistles around the island on both the ebb and flood.
I’ve seen the waters of the Northern Entrance turn to soup with waves breaking on waves. One of my scariest boating moments was when my motor conked out around Rat Island and I was at the mercy of the turbulent waters of the ebbing tide for a few moments.
A wide variety of fish are available from Rat Island. The ocean face of the island has several quality coral gardens that hold coral trout, parrot and sweetlip. The coral areas are close to the island and some anglers land on the island to cast directly into the waters.
Rat Island has four distinct quadrants. The harbour side or southern side is pretty much shale and rock. Fishing there is limited to the area just off the main channel to the South End jetty. It’s only a few metres deep, even at high tide. There is a small clump of soft coral on the southeastern corner but I’ve only ever heard of smaller bream being caught there.
The western corner is the water corridor for the incoming and outgoing tide. This is fairly shallow and not for the faint hearted, but just past the last green marker it’s possible to target bigger bream brought back into or from the harbour with the water. I have seen small tinnies sneak through here but it isn’t for new anglers to try. Several hull smashing rock clumps are located on the ocean side between Rat Island and the Curtis Island jetty. On full tide they are submerged – but only just.
The northern (ocean) side is much more appealing. I prefer to follow the leads well out before turning back into Rat Island. I head out a good half a mile past the last lead before turning back. There is plenty of foul ground on the eastern corner to clear before fishing there.
The eastern corner has a small clump of coral but foul ground keeps all but the foolhardy or well-experienced fisher interested. I tend to avoid this area.
On a recent trip my son, Scott and I headed to Rat on a 4m tide. On a full flood we were anchored tight on the northern side and had a bow wave to demonstrate the full strength of the flow. We needed snapper leads to stay connected to the bottom but were rewarded with some good catches including a good-sized blackall.
Farmers Reef is another prime location for May. It’s a protected location that is great for smaller boats. There have been reports of good coral trout caught here and May, especially on the smaller weekend tides, is a good time to have a go.
The coral gardens of the Oaks are worth considering in May. These gardens lie just off the channel and are best fished on the smaller tides an hour before or after the high. On the bigger tides, you need a house brick to keep your baits in touch with the bottom. I have seen anglers trollling lures around here but haven’t heard of any good catches.
Facing Island’s whiting just scream out during May. My plan is for a May weekend trip to the island. Hopefully next month I will be writing about elbow slapping Facing Island whiting.
It is hard not to hear and be impressed by the reports of huge barra being pulled from Awoonga Dam pretty much all year. When it is your first barra, it is a special occasion. Luke Pegg pulled in a huge 16kg, 1.06m specimen and you couldn’t wipe the smile from his face for days. And good on him too!Reads: 8081