Graham Creek Caper
  |  First Published: July 2005

Last month I reported on my favourite Plan B locations – places that I head to when the weather puts my Plan A reef trips out of the question. This month I’ll take a look at some Plan C spots that you can access if you don’t have a boat (or if, like me, your boat is in the shop getting fixed). Some of my favourite Plan Cs are worthy of a visit any day.

Calliope River Dual Rail Bridges

There are some strategically placed pylons within easy casting distance from the bank here. You can get to this spot in any vehicle via Red Rover Road, taking the track between the two rail crossings. While it is not much more than a mud bank on low tide, on a making tide it offers all sorts of angling opportunities. As the tide rises it is possible to stand on the first pylon and cast to the second and if you are really good, the third. By working baits on the lee side of the pylons you can grab hold of cod, grunter, salmon and flathead.

If you have a 4WD, it is possible to sneak through the bush and follow a honeycomb of tracks, all ending up at various locations on the river. North of the bridge is a rock shelf that reaches into the river and from here there are some good quality holes to throw into.

Spinnaker Park

Spinnaker is one of Gladstone’s newest parks and also one of the few locations where the harbour is just a cast away from the back of your car. Seats are even provided for an easy day of fishing.

The rock bund wall here is a magnet for all sorts of harbour species including bream, parrot and trevally. Even sweetlip have struggled their way into waiting iceboxes. It is easy fishing but like all rock walls it has its share of snags, so fishing light is the best way to go.

The Boyne River

Passing under the highway at Benaraby, the Boyne River runs eastward towards gravel banks and some solid grunter, bream and salmon. This section is just off the Bruce Highway and because conventional vehicles can follow most tracks right to the edge of the water, it is a fairly popular spot, especially on the weekend.

However, on the western side of the bridge, numerous bush tracks lead everywhere and most end up at their own backwater of the main river. These roads are accessible by high clearance vehicles but I wouldn’t go without 4WD. The settings are idyllic but hard to reach, which means most of the time you will be the only angler there. The river meanders peacefully towards Pike’s Crossing, which is worth a trip itself.

A canoe would be ideal at any of these locations, as you could get into the deeper areas and target the mangrove edges.

The Banana Tragedy at Graham Creek

Graham Creek is a Gladstone icon; it is the kick off point for the Narrows and offers protection from all conditions. Yachties often anchor up here and wait for sufficient tide to head northward but find it such a picturesque creek they spend a few days.

A small sandy beach at the mouth is a great place to park the boat and have a break or even camp. When entering Graham Creek from the harbour give the starboard bank a wide berth and then head mid-creek for good depth. Mangroves line the whole creek with drains, some 5-6m deep and worth flicking into. This creek is renowned for various types of salmon and I have also heard reports of mangrove jack being caught here.

Rawbelle is the first tributary to branch from the main creek and I’ve never left here without a decent feed. The area around the remnants of the jetty (see 1 on map) is usually my first target but I like to flick all over the place. The creek is only narrow so a good cast will easily reach both banks. As the creek twists and turns, many deeper holes (2 and 3) hold some decent cod, flathead, grunter and bream.

In three previous trips during the past month I have counted 21 different species just from Rawbelle. My mate Macca recently added a pickhandle barracuda on plastic, taking the count to 22. The pickhandle differs from the great barracuda by having teeth that slope backwards rather than vertically. Neither should be eaten as they taste and smell awful and have also been linked with ciguatera poisoning.

Despite this, they are a great sport fish. The pickhandle barracuda hammered Macca’s soft plastic and although small, put on a great display of leaping and thrashing. We returned it to the water to jump another day.

Macca followed this up by dragging in a thrashing salmon only to watch it fling itself loose right at the boat. A grey dolphin surfaced slowly behind us, blasted water into the air and glided further down the creek as we pulled anchor and left.

Directly opposite Rawbelle (4) is a hole of around 8m, where I’ve pulled some great cod and grunter. Graham Creek narrows where rocky outcrops reach into the creek (5) but widens considerably past this point. This rocky spur is a great bream location with the occasional whiting adding to the catch. Moses perch also come to the boat but I have yet to get one worthy of the icebox.

Hobble Gully is about 3.5km further down Graham’s Creek and branches off to the north. It is a little wider than Rawbelle but it shallows out after the first kilometre or so. We anchored right at the mouth on the eastern bank (6) where the mangroves meet a sand bar. Whiting and fingermark are common catches here.

The tide was rising but the mangroves hadn’t quite reached the water so we went for a look further down the creek. Along the western bank we came across a perfect spot (7) where mangrove roots set up a great hiding spot for fish. The depth was a comfortable 4-5m so we set anchor and flicked towards the mangrove roots.

Both black and silver bream were hitting my baits with some ferocity. It was a bream bonanza: for the next hour we boated about 30, with a dozen 30cm bream in the icebox. A threadfin salmon grabbed my line and put up a few decent runs before also making its way into the ice. Threadfin is a fabulous table fish and best cooked fresh and lightly floured.

Macca wasn’t having much luck here when he extracted from his lunch box, much to my dismay, a banana! Now, I don’t consider myself superstitious but I never take a banana aboard a boat. I thought it was known that bad luck seems to follow bananas on boats but Macca was not aware of this.

It is not clear where this superstition originated but a Google search came up with three main theories. The scientific explanation is that bananas give off ethylene gas when they ripen causing perishable foodstuffs to spoil more quickly.

Another explanation is that during their 17th century trans-Atlantic crossings, wooden sailing ships would stop at tropical islands to gather provisions including bananas. All sorts of ornery critters would find their way into the bananas, get into the bilge and multiply and then end up in the captain's quarters. Captains circulated the rumour that bananas were bad luck in an attempt to keep the critters off the ship and out of their cabins.

However, surely the most plausible explanation is that bananas offend the gods of the ocean and wreak wrath on those who carry them.

Macca wolfed the banana down but the damage had been done and he didn’t catch much after that. He scoffed at my concerns that bad luck was now just around the corner and said the fact he wasn’t catching any fish was merely coincidence. I had to admit this was quite possible but held some dread of what was about to happen.

We decided to venture further down Graham Creek, even though I don’t usually travel past Hobble Gully as the bottom of the creek has been known to come up and bump hulls. As we travelled past a rocky spur the depth dropped to 1.5m so I backed off and began reversing to safer depths. Suddenly, my stainless steel prop smashed into a submerged object (8) with one almighty CLUNK.

Who has ever backed into a submerged object? One of my prop blades now sports an aileron style flap. We didn’t see what we hit but the damage had been done. Blasted banana!

We limped home with considerable cavitations from my Merc 90. While my prop is in the shop, I won’t be able to pursue any Plan A or even Plan B locations – hence the report on some worthwhile Plan C spots this month.

I’ve learnt my lesson though and no one will ever come aboard my boat with a banana again!

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