Fishing Picking Up
  |  First Published: October 2006

There have been plenty of queenfish hotspots along the eastern rocks of Facing Island, Gatcombe Heads, Oyster Rocks, East Point Ledge and Sable Chief Rocks, with a good selection of other reef species also there for the taking.

These spots are best fished on northerlies or northwesterlies as they provide good protection. I avoid all these places when the southeasterlies are blowing over 10 knots.

Access to the rocks is best made through the East Channel at the southern tip of Facing Island. This route contains some very shallow spots at low tide but is well marked by beacons and leads.

Gatcombe Heads is well worth an inspection and has good rocky outcrops east of the Gatcombe boat harbour. I tend to stay close to the channel when fishing here as it shallows out quickly.

Oyster Rocks is the first small clump of rocks around the northeastern edge. It’s relatively deep so anglers can pull some quality parrot and good grunter there. It is best fished on a making tide but current can flow quite fast so I use a paternoster rig to keep the bait just off the bottom.

There are plenty of rocky outcrops along this side of Facing Island.


Flathead are fairly active at the moment and will continue to hit baits hard. The Beecher Bar in the Calliope River is producing great specimens, and allowing baits to drag slowly over the bar and tumble into the main channel will get you the most strikes.

Devils Elbow is worth a trip just to sit in the boat and daydream. If you flick towards the large rocks along the edges you will be rewarded with grunter, bream and the odd Moses perch. Flathead and whiting can also be caught from the sand bar on the opposite edge.

Rundle Rocks

Rundle Island is one of the important islands in the Gladstone area as it holds the automated weather station. The station generates a comprehensive picture of conditions in open waters. Fishers can find this report at www.bom.gov.au/products/IDQ65519/IDQ65519.94378.shtml .

However, Rundle is also one of the islands just off Cape Capricorn that holds a wide variety of different fishing opportunities.

The southern side of the island is very rocky and has lots of coral. The coral structures extend a fair distance from the main island with depths of 15m in as close as 20m from the island. This side of island suffers from constant wave action due to the southeasterlies and can be uncomfortably rough even in small swell.

On a good day this area is a hunting ground for both spotty and Spanish mackerel. Stripies are also common catches and although they are passable on the plate, they are dynamite as livebait for mackerel. They can’t resist a stripey on a single hook behind the head, a treble stinger on the tail and floating below a small balloon.

The northern side of Rundle Island is a great escape from the southeasterly breezes. The beach area is more expansive on this side and it is possible to bring the boat carefully to shore. It shallows out quite quickly so watch out for oysters.

Sweetlip, trout and parrot are frequent catches here. My fishing mate Al and I headed out on what could only be described as fabulous weekend.

After an early getaway from Auckland Creek on a rising tide, the morning fog had us stranded in the channel (or so we thought) with zero visibility and compass bearings as our only guide.

Rather than run aground on a sandbank in what is already a narrow channel, we decided to anchor up and wait until the fog lifted.

We then headed straight for Rundle sitting on a comfortable 25 knots in great boating conditions. At this speed we reached Rundle in just under 30 minutes from Rat Island.

The southern side was rocking in the unrelenting swell and there were no takers for our bottom bashing baits. While the southeasterly breeze barely hit 6 knots all day, the rolling easterly swell was setting up some stomach churning action. To make matters worse, we weren’t hauling much in either.

The patrolling fishers pulled alongside and gave my safety gear the once over. My flares were about to expire and I doubt that I would have checked without their visit. I welcome their presence because nothing should compromise safety on the water.

When we weren’t able to produce any fish to check, the fishers hinted at some good catches occurring on the other side of Rundle.

After they had finished with our check, we pulled anchor and headed in the suggested direction. The structure on the northern side is sparsely located so I set the GPS for my favourite bommie, worked out the speed and direction of the drift and wham! We had squid on 5/0 hooks.

Al had a single hook on a steel trace below a ball sinker. I had my trusty paternoster with a snapper lead and three 5/0 ganged on a twisted dropper loop – trusted rigs for both of us. It was only a matter of seconds before we were bringing some bumper grassy sweetlip to the boat.

Al and I were hooking up together but because the structure was so small we had to reposition the boat quite a few times for subsequent drifts.

Al brought a slender remora to the boat. Slime makes these fish unpleasant to handle but I hear the fillets are half decent on the plate. A mistaken belief exists which states that remora indicate the presence of sharks, but this is far from true. Remora are capable of looking after themselves away from their host fish.

We ended the day with a couple of honeycomb cod which, despite being slimy fish to fillet, are great textured fish for curries.

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