I have to admit that I have found a newly formed respect and liking for the Calliope River. Fishing over reef in my boat is still my number one fishing preference, however, my Cruisecraft 500 is too small for comfort in the strong winds and the big seas, especially when you are a good distance from shore.
The Calliope River is a picturesque waterway with a good dual boat ramp, plenty of accessible unsealed parking, and a bait and tackle shop right on the spot. I can be in the boat and fishing on the river within minutes.
From the boat ramp, dozens of fishing locations are literally seconds away and the mouth of the river is no more than one minute away.
I have been getting success recently in the drains opposite the cliffs off the Beecher Reach of the river. Even though these drains don’t reach very far into the mangroves, they have wide mouths from the river and set up a nice casting lagoon on high tide. And quality grunter can be dragged to the boat.
Another popular area when the wind is blowing is the Gladstone Marina. This is a great location to fish with or without a boat and there are several locations around the marina from which to tackle fish. Recently several people have pulled some good sweetlip and cod from the rock wall into the harbour.
Inside the marina there are so many areas that hold good fish. Underneath any pontoon is a haven for cod and bream, and sometimes you can pick up a trout or two as well. The area close to where the Curtis Trader barge anchors up is always worth a flick and some bumper bream can be pulled from the pylons here.
Late one night, Troy Hussey went to soak some pillies and squid where the old Heron Island pontoon anchors up and, while he was only expecting the bread and butter species, he was caught battling a mangrove jack. What a jack was doing near the pontoon is anyone’s guess, but he was pleasantly surprised.
You would think that the fish on the reef would be huge by now with the limited number of weekends of stable weather. So when the forecast predicted 10-15 knots and 1.2m seas, my fishing mate and I eagerly put on our heavy rigs for the big fish and threw in extra bait. I had the feeling we would be out there for hours, and I was right but not for the reasons I expected.
We rounded the top of Facing that as usual, due to big depth differences, was rocking and rolling. This usually flattens out the further you get from Facing – but unfortunately not this day!
The seas were closer to 1.8m with the occasional 2m swell sending the boat into a spin. I didn’t think we needed the front clears, believing it would be an easy trip, but we ended up ducking wave after wave as they broke over the bow, sending a spray up and over the shield, right into our faces. We could duck the first only to cop the second fare in the mush! We could feel the salt crusting up our faces.
What normally takes us 45 minutes took us nearly two painful spine-thumping hours. The conditions on Rock Cod Shoals were terrible. We drifted because there was no way I was throwing an anchor out in these conditions. As we drifted, the waves were buffeting the boat making even standing difficult and sometimes downright dangerous.
We eventually managed to get our lines into the water but, for safety, we stayed seated as much as possible. All we wanted was a couple of decent coral trout and then we could head back in. The first fish to the boat was a 25cm iodine bream, a just-legal parrot and a small red throat that we had to measure three times to check for legality. But they all went into the icebox – anything legal was icebox bound today.
By this stage I was about to lose any semblance of decorum, and my breakfast was about to reappear, as we were buffeted by wave upon wave on an uncomfortable swell. My rod was in the holder in the stern and I was at the helm chewing on Kwell tablets hoping that I could sit quietly for a while. Then my reel screamed out. Bugger!
I waited to see if the fish would either jump into the boat itself or bust off, but neither happened. I had to get to my feet, shuffle slowly to the stern without being knocked over the side. Eventually I brought a half decent venus tuskfish to the boat. It was a worthy catch and any other time I would have been eager to get the line into the water to catch its mate, however, it was enough for us so we called it quits and headed to the calm of the harbour.
My wife Bev and I went for an overnighter to Pacific Creek recently and caught a nice fill of bream, flathead, whiting, river perch and grunter. We had a great weekend and were quite happy with our haul.
We set off a little too early and had to wait for more water to come into Ramsay’s Crossing before we could head through comfortably. I have busted off a few props here before so I like plenty of water under the boat.
We anchored up near the first lead marker to the Narrows and casted into the mangroves, which were fast filling up with water. We caught a few small bream and a couple of annoying stingrays, which bent Bev’s light rod nearly back on itself.
It was a very pleasant surprise when she hooked up to a 33cm silver bream and eased the fat little blighter into the boat. It would have only been seconds later when I hooked up a similar sized fish. It sure was a nice way to finish off the weekend.
I usually check the weather on three websites:www.buoyweather.com
It gives predictions of wind speed and wave heights based on data received from ocean buoys at various locations, including one in Central Queensland. It is usually pretty accurate.
I also check the latest observations on the BOM website, as it gives the current wind reading from Rundle Island. You can’t get a better guide to the current Gladstone conditions than this site.www.eldersweather.com.au
It gives a prediction of the BOM predictions and includes waves, swell conditions, tides, sun rises as well as direct links to radar images.