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Estuary expeditions
  |  First Published: March 2005



The summer heat and humidity have been taxing of late. Breezes on the water are refreshing if you can stay out of the sun, but the afternoon winds can strengthen quickly and without much warning. On other days the conditions can glass out and you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but fishing in Gladstone. Variety is the spice of life, and at this time of the year there is plenty of variety on the angling front.

In the estuaries

The estuaries and creeks on the top of Curtis Island and the northern entrance to the Narrows are the places to be at this time of year. They remain fairly protected from the strong southeast breezes that spring up during March. The Narrows are easily travelled by all vessels but you need to take care around Ramsay’s Crossing. This area has grabbed more props (including a few of mine) than all other areas of Central Queensland combined.

My son Adam and I recently travelled through Ramsay’s Crossing on a midday high tide. After being twice bitten I never tackle it under a 2m Gladstone tide, and closely follow the leads and marks. We planned to beach the boat at Sea Hill and camp overnight as I have done before (QFM June 2004) but the combination of heavy swell, big tides and a 20-knot southeasterly put that plan to rest. Staying aboard the boat for the night while safely anchored inside nearby Pacific Creek proved the best option.

We used prawn baits on light gear and caught some passable bream (both silver and black), a small reef shark, the omnipresent catfish and plenty of river perch. River perch aren’t much of a sportfish, as they tend not to battle very strongly after the first 30 seconds. However, they are easy to prepare, cut into decent fillets and are delicious with a light squeeze of lemon.

Putting two anchors out enabled us to spend a peaceful night in the main creek at the mouth of the first small tributary. We anchored in the deeper water to avoid dragging. Depth in the main creek varies from 3-9m. Fishing was fairly ordinary apart from a few heavy bust-offs during the night, but it takes a lot to beat a BBQ with a mate aboard your boat in the safe confines of a river.

At sunrise we were treated to a display of dolphin antics equal to anything you’d see at Sea World. A dozen dolphins swam into the creek and put on a show for us, including tail walks, flips and head spins. It was an impressive display, although it scared the living daylights out of every fish within the boundaries of the creek so it was a good time to leave.

If you make a trip to Pacific Creek, it’s worth exploring any of the rivers and creeks that flow into the Narrows. All have angling merit and are protected from strong breezes.

FV Bindaree

The Bindaree is a well-known Gladstone wreck. It’s within easy reach by most boats, being just over 10km northeast from the North Entrance.

This wreck is an 18m wooden trawler that sank in heavy seas in 1992, so in terms of wrecks it is relatively new and still contains good structures.

Sitting in about 28m of water, it is best fished on the anchor and during still water on a neap tide. A few boats are usually anchored around the wreck so it’s easy to find. Drift slowly back, tie off and cast towards structure. Balloons can be used to carry baits over and above the wreck.

The Bindaree gives up cobia, trout, parrotfish, jew and is often frequented by dive clubs. I wouldn’t make a special trip to Bindaree, however, as conditions don’t always suit fishing at this location. You’re better off keeping it as a good secondary location when you’re homeward bound or en route elsewhere. If there are more than six boats around the wreck I give it a miss. It’s not that large and sometimes it can be difficult to coax the fish out.

Both my sons were with me on a recent trip. After fishing the Rock Cod Shoals in the morning we joined four other boats and shared the wreck for the afternoon. Substantial numbers of hump-headed batfish were being caught but they are pretty ordinary on the plate. On this particular day batfish were in plaque proportions, even schooling up on the surface over the shoals.

Then something grabbed hold of Scott’s squid and pulled line from his reel, indicating something bigger than batfish. It was an impressive tussle and he finally brought a nice trevally to the boat. These great sportfish make ordinary table fare, so after a photograph it was released to fight another day. We hope to catch it again next time.

[CAPTIONS]

1) A typical Pacific Creek bream.

2) Scott used squid to coax this trevally from the Bindaree.

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