There has been an audible sigh of relief from the Gladstone fishing community now that winter is almost here. Gladstone is great in winter with pleasant calm days and stable weather patterns making the reef more accessible for boating anglers.
Winter is much more pleasant for land-based anglers who don’t have to suffer though the CQ summer humidity anymore. Standing at the edge with feet dipped into the water and a rod in the hand at this time of the year is just magic.
Most of the mozzies and sandflies have left for winter so it’s a good time to get into the mangroves. Top spots are all along Graham Creek including Hobble Gully and Rawbelle Creek.
Threadfin salmon will start moving into the Narrows and Targinie Creek holds a lot of chances for anyone who is prepared to venture its length. This creek has gravel beds on its southern banks, which makes it the perfect place to target threadfin. The sandbanks and gutters on most tributaries are great spots to find whiting. The drains along the southern edge are likely spots for grunter, bream and the occasional fingermark.
Bigger bream have started to become more aggressive, so anywhere near structure is a good spot to flick a hard-bodied lure or a peeled prawn. I like what Black Swan has to offer.
I have found the drains on the southern bank much more productive. Drains where the mangroves overhang the water, creating shadows and dappled light, always seem to hold the biggest bream.
Some good catches have been brought from the reef with mackerel still hitting trolled and floating baits, especially on the shoals. Both Bass and Rock Cod Shoals have been fishing well but the weather and strong winds have limited anglers’ fishing time.
Those who have been game enough to venture out have brought back some good quality Spanish mackerel. Spanish mackerel will strike at well presented baits and lures all day long but they have been more active under cloudy skies and light rain.
Gladstone is lucky enough to have plenty of bridges over waterways. The bridges at the intersection of Hanson Road and Alf O’Rourke Drive are productive places to fish. Each tributary of Auckland Creek, which flows under both bridges, holds good fish. The mangrove banks are good places to throw for small fingermark and the occasional cod can be caught from the pylons. Flick towards the pylons aiming to hit it. This allows the bait the waft down the length of the pylon to the bottom, and cod won’t be able to resist it.
The rocky edge of the Calliope River near Armstrong’s Boat Ramp is also a great land-based location for black bream. It’s best fished at high tide as muddy banks are exposed at low tide. Some of the edges are quite steep so check this out before stepping into the water.
As expected, Facing Island whiting were really on the chew in April and will continue to bite aggressively in June. There are literally hundreds of whiting locations at Facing and they all hold good elbow slappers. Exploring this island is half the fun. Combine that with some whiting and you have the makings of a great weekend.
One of the most consistent whiting locations has been the mangrove banks on the harbour side, south of Farmers Point. This place is a whiting haven with good quality sandbanks and small clumps of mangrove hiding places. True to form, plenty of whiting have found their way into our catch bags on our recent sojourn to Facing with my mates.
A 4WD is needed to access this side of Facing Island as there are a few creek crossings and a few washouts. There are quite a few alternative tracks but newcomers should stick to the main one to avoid a troublesome salt bog. It is best to start and return on a low tide so creek crossings can be safely traversed. Get good advice before heading out here.
When travelling by 4WD, keep an eye on the water. Good locations can be identified by small waves, which flatten as they roll towards the beach. This indicates a gutter or a drop-off and is a great place to target whiting. This part of the island is protected from most winds so waves of any consequence are generally the wash of the boat traffic but they give a good indication of structure below.
Keep tackle light and bait fresh. If you are energetic, pumping fresh yabbies is possible here. Otherwise fresh local prawns can be purchased before heading over on the barge. Both baits work well.
If you are lucky to be on Facing on a light breezy weekend then count your blessings because the eastern (ocean) side of the island opens up all sorts of piscatorial challenges. Travel along the beach by 4WD and you will find hundreds of likely gutters if you look for double wave breaks. Waves that break deeper out and then re-build and break again closer to shore indicate depth changes and sand gutters.
Rocks are a nuisance to fish among as snags are common and annoying. Unfortunately these locations also hold great fish. Look for rocks enveloping sand gutters. The holding structures of the rocks and slow moving bait across white sand will attract the attention of dart, bream and whiting.
4WD beach travelling is fairly easy but the entrance and exits to the beach are often up soft sandy hills. I prefer to keep tyre pressure right down to about 20lb and build up a bit of pace while on the beach to tackle these hills. For experienced 4WD drivers these hills are of little consequence.
I upgrade my tackle when fishing the ocean side. The disadvantage is more snags but whiting always seem bigger on this side of the island. Dart, trevally, grunter, bream and tarwhine all use wave action to their advantage and put stress on light terminal tackle and while snags are annoying, bust-offs are tragic.
Don’t forget the Boyne-Tannum Hook Up over the Queen’s Birthday weekend. This is the top fishing competition on the Gladstone calendar and is always a chance to catch up with those in the know and learn how to fish Gladstone waters. Check out www.boynetannumhookup.com.au for details.Reads: 1013