Boyne Tannum Hook-Up
  |  First Published: August 2004

I LOVE this time of the year. The water is cool and most days are next to perfect. You can catch salmon all year but winter seems to be when they are most active. The best tides are those around 3.5-4m. You can catch salmon during the day but the best time is at night, and the darker the better.

In the Estuaries

During August the big breeding flathead start moving into the estuaries. Wild Cattle Creek, The Narrows and Trees Inlet are the prime locations. Toss back those flatties that are 70cm or bigger as they will almost certainly be females. Big flatheads are pretty ordinary table fare anyway.

With the unreliability of winds in August, Colosseum Inlet might be worth a visit. On the way you could pay a visit to Seal Rocks. This area offers little protection in any breeze so pick your day to visit.

You could explore Colosseum for weeks without fishing the same place twice. Blue salmon are starting to move now that the chill has set in, and Colosseum is renowned for good catches of these fish. Everyone has their own opinion of which trace to use for salmon, but I’ve found that the less metal I use, the better. Too many hooks and too much wire trace catches fewer salmon, but you need good line – at least 10kg. I have fished with heavier but not successfully.

On the Reef

Now that a lot of reef area has been lost to us by rezoning, the nearby shoals might cop a bit of a hiding. I’m hoping to have a crack at Hummocky Island; southeasterly winds prevail at this time of the year and Hummocky offers good shelter from these winds. You can run from the Narrows or attack the island from Port Alma. Fish the northern beach and bay for sweetlip and coral trout. If you get close to the rocks you will find decent sea bream. The northern and southern beaches are also good spots for oystering.

Masthead is also a good option, if you can work the tides and the wind to help with the trip in and out. Fishing between Masthead and Polmaisse offers the best protection from the southeasterly winds but remember to stay out of the green zones.

Boyne Tannum Hook-Up

The weather was a little unkind to boating fishers during the weekend of the Boyne Tannum Hook-Up, Gladstone’s premier fishing competition, but it was impossible to stop the enthusiasm of the 2800 competitors, testament to the excellent work of the organisers.

With the winds ensuring only the big boats were able to venture out wide, the more protected locations were crammed with fishers, all angling for their share of the prize money.

Even the fishers in the bigger boats battled strong winds and big swells. Locations that offered some protection – such as Masthead, Rundle and Hummocky – featured strongly in the reports. Those competitors who made it out to the open shoals or reefs, like 12 Mile Reef or Rock Cod Shoals, struggled to stay out for long. However, there were recorded captures in all categories, including a huge 31.4kg Spanish mackerel captured near Rundle Island (see QFM April 2004). With the success of the Boyne Tannum Hook-Up and that huge 31kg Spaniard fresh in people’s minds, trolling around Bass Shoals and Rundle Island is likely to become a popular option for a while.

Wild Cattle Creek

Because conditions relegated us to protected spots, my mate Ian and I headed for the beaches on Saturday to test our luck on whiting. We headed directly to Wild Cattle Creek on the low tide to pump yabbies with most of the other land-bound fishers. Pumping yabbies here is a social occasion and you’ll always find someone with whom to share a fishing story.

From this vantage point, you can also access Wild Cattle Island and fish the ocean side with relative ease. Many 4WDs access this beach area after driving down the boat ramp and around the many deeper holes. Returning is only possible on the next low tide. Wild Cattle Creek at low tide is one huge sand bank where families and pets can wander freely, but it’s definitely not to be messed with when the tide is on the way out. Many tourists have ended up in serious trouble as the current sweeps out to sea with unrelenting force. Some deaths have been recorded from those who ignored the safety signs warning swimmers of the dangerous tidal conditions.

Boyne River and Canoe Point

Our supply of yabbies barely covered the bottom of the bucket but we had enough to see out the afternoon flooding tide. The busy mouth of the Boyne River, through which boating traffic must venture to access Gladstone harbour, was where we first flicked yabbies. Parents of young children must take care here because stonefish have been pulled from these shallows. Whiting, bream and flathead are frequent catches at this spot, but not on this outing.

The beach area of Canoe Point was our next venue. This is a spectacular beach area with a large rocky spur providing access to whitewater and sand gutters. Ian and I fished the incoming tide and met up with some more Hook-Up hopefuls who were having more luck than we were.

The beach area at Canoe Point features rock pools, which I’m sure would entice and hold fish on flooding tides. On this trip the water had not quite reached these rocks.

By the time the sun was setting we were getting desperate – we didn’t have even one fish to weigh in. We tried under the bridge that spans the Boyne River. We joined a few who were fishing the pylons in their small dinghy. We fished the mangrove edge of the river and managed to pull in several bream, sweetlip, whiting and a small sergeant major, but not one fish worthy of weighing in!

Rodd Harbour

On the Sunday of the Hook-Up, Ian, Liam and I drove to Turkey Beach – a small and picturesque fishing village, some 50km south of Gladstone.

After launching the boat on the well-maintained bitumen dual ramp we set out to explore Rodd Harbour. This is a relatively small expanse of water with a narrow channel to access open water. Large sand bars reach out from the land and form a barrier to some of the harbour at low tide.

Rodd Harbour opens up all sorts of fishing possibilities. With 20-knot southeasterly winds, there was a relatively small but significant chop in the harbour, certainly more than we expected.

Tongue Spit

A sand bar, appropriately named Tongue Spit, is located at the mouth of the harbour. Waves break over Tongue Spit even at high tide so boaties can easily identify this feature. If you head for GPS 24S00.12 151E35.27 you will be on the northeastern extremity of the feature, which runs northeast-southwest.

The eastern edge of Tongue Spit holds onto a large rock formation that dries at low tide but is still visible at high tide. While we didn’t fish the rock at the time, the six boats anchored around it for most of the day showed that it’s an effective fish-attracting feature.

The gutter between Tongue Spit and the harbour acts as a mackerel run to open water. The gutter varies in depth from 7-13m and runs parallel to the spit. We were fishing with bait when Liam’s rod went into overdrive. He was slowly pulling his pillie up when the mackerel hit with a screaming run. Liam brought to the boat what we thought was a school mackerel. If the deckie had have been on the ball with the landing net, a photo would have appeared in this edition and we would have known for sure (sorry Liam!).

We repeated the same technique but our baits were ripped from our lines, hooks and all, with more force than we could handle. When we changed to wire leaders we didn’t get any more hits. We trolled lures and poppers but it was all over Red Rover!

There are two rocky headlands at the southern side of the mouth of Rodd Harbour, Middle Head and Innes Head. They both offer relief from the southeasterlies so we anchored up and cast towards the rocks. We caught grinner and pike as soon as we were in the water so we used these for bait. We brought several bream to the boat but none were worth weighing in so we released them all. It just wasn’t our Hook-Up this year.

A lazy dugong surfaced beside us and disappeared as quickly as it came. This area is a known dugong habitat so boaties need to be alert to the signs of dugong presence. I reported the sighting to the Centre for Environmental Management (ph (07) 4970 7222) who study dugong habitats in the area.

I have fished the beach area around the mouth of Morris Creek on the Rodd Peninsula before with some success, but on this trip we didn’t leave ourselves enough time. I’ll be back to Rodd Harbour to check out the northeastern side of the peninsula. It has some interesting looking structures, Ethel Rocks and Elephant Rocks. Next time!

1) This monster Spanish mackerel was the champion fish of the Boyne Tannum Hook-Up.

2) Fishing at the mouth of the Boyne River is an excellent location for all the family.

3) Fishing near the rocky spur provides the best opportunity for whiting and bream.

4) Some decent flathead will be coaxed out of Trees Inlet this month.

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