Beauties and the Barra
  |  First Published: December 2008

No doubt Santa provided Gladstone fishers with a few toys to try out this month and it looks like a busy month to get out on Central Queensland waters.

Changes in humidity are prevalent during the peak summer season and the scientific debate is wide open about the impact of barometric pressure on fishing activity. On the Gladstone reefs I have generally found my own rules about how the barometric pressures effects the fishing activity.

On days where humidity is high but the skies are clear, fish tend to be deeper and a little less active. You have to work harder to affect a strike but a small slower bait or lure action seems to do the trick. You will get fewer strikes if the jig or bait flicks wildly.

On days where barometric pressure is rising, the fish seem to be more active and strike more aggressively. They generally are found a little higher in the fishing table, often mid water and will attack moving baits or slowly trolled baits.

It is on the days where barometric pressure is dropping where the fish seem to be most active and hit baits and lures with speed. Aggressive bait or lure movements will often produce the most strikes.

In the Estuaries

Calliope River is providing some unexpected catches. Matthew Pryke did some hunting with lures from his kayak and pulled up two very respectable mangrove jacks, the largest was 44cm. He caught the fish late in the afternoon just as dusk was approaching.

Calliope is ideal for kayak fishing as the tides are usually manageable and the mangrove edges are perfect for a stealth attack. Good grunter have been caught in the deeper holes around the areas where mangrove trees hang into the water.

You can find these locations in the anabranches and the smaller tributaries of the Beecher section of the river.

The mosquitoes and sand flies have moved into the estuaries of the Narrows – probably because this area is fairly protected from the strong summer breezes. However, fishing reports of quality bream are still being recorded around Boat Creek and Ramsay’s Crossing. Crabbing in Graham Creek is still going strong and should continue to do so throughout the summer.

A good plan is to get into Graham Creek, drop your pots and then move back into the main harbour and fish the open islands like Diamantina, Quoin or Compigne.

Turtle Island has good structure all around it and is a good island to tackle first. I suggest you read the tides well and know where the rocks are before you fish here. On a good day you can even pick up some sweetlip and coral trout. The most common catch here is silver bream, and some are brutes.

On the Reef

Reports from Gladstone reefs were a little patchy last month. There has been some good catches but fishers are travelling further afield for them. Even the usually consistent North West areas are quiet, but good charter boat operators are putting clients onto good patches of sweetlip and nannygai.

It is a positive move that fuel prices are gradually coming down, at least for a while. It might be just the incentive local fishers need to explore the wider reefs.

There is still Spanish mackerel being caught but mostly on trolled lures while fishers are travelling between spots. I have a confirmed report of a small marlin being caught just north-west of The Biralee wreck. Unfortunately the fish wouldn’t cooperate for a photo and busted off right at the side of the boat.

The usual shoals have been a little quiet last month so here’s hoping that only means they are getting bigger for this month’s reef trips.

In the Dams

Cania Dam is not only a nice place to holiday but is coming into its own as a top bass location. On a recent trip, Cita Davis managed to hook onto a top little specimen while trolling with spinner baits.

Cania Dam is located just outside Monto and is stocked with golden perch, silver perch and Australian bass. But Cania’s real drawcard is saratoga. Initially stocked with only 200 individuals, the toga bred to a population where they are easily targeted and caught.

Ladies Barra Comp

The second annual Ladies Barra comp held recently at Awoonga Dam provided some good catches of barra. Jodie Diefenbach managed to top the leader board with two catches of 95cm and 83cm. She caught these brutes while drifting over weed using blue squidgies. Barbara van der Lelie managed to hook onto an 87cm horse.

This competition is only just starting out but if ever there was a recipe for a fun weekend, organiser Bev Cheffins has it well and truly covered. The competition was intense, but everyone enjoyed participating.

I was lucky to be invited to attend their presentation evening for a short while. Men are relegated to slave status in the all-ladies competition. Their role is to drive the boats, take the photographs and generally be on hand when required. I gather no men were complaining about this either.

However the fishing is strictly ladies only and they take it very seriously, as do their sponsors. The sponsor list is extensive with an impressive array of fabulous prizes.

The Ladies Only competition is held early November each year and should be on every fun-loving fishers calendar. Check out the details and the results of past competitions on www.ladyfishers.com.au .

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