KING threadfin salmon are the most likely winter capture of note in the Fitzroy River. Though we get these fish in all the creeks and estuaries, salmon continue to be caught more often in the river.
The popular bait is live river prawns, when you can catch them, and poddy mullet aren't bad either. Several of the coast’s regular salmon catchers reckon that yabbies can pull quality fish in cleaner, clearer water towards the mouth and beaches. When livies are scarce, fresh prawns do the job just fine – and plenty of sportfishers in CQ swear that lures can’t be beaten in the right conditions.
You can score a decent size salmon on most nights and probably most days, if you know the river. I receive many fishy photos every week, and I’m always amazed at how many of them are of salmon. The majority of these come from the Fitzroy. The pressure the river attracts is incredible – everything from fishing to farming to water supply and industry – yet you can still catch a fish.
The Rockhampton jetty rats seem able to score large kings at any time of year. Tide sizes and directions don’t appear to make a huge difference either. The wharves and jetties provide tons of structure for bait and for ambush type predators like salmon. Usually small prawns hide in the shadows around the old concrete blocks and timber piles, and the salmon, barra and other hungry predators arrive with the tides to feed. The mud banks heading out downstream from Rocky can deliver fine catches at times – just look for the recent workings and then work the shallows in front of the incoming tide. You can see the dorsal fins out of the water as the fish hit small prawns, crabs and baitfish. The kings are often the first large fish to move into a hole as it fills up.
Blue salmon inhabit the beaches and estuaries along the coastal strip. Coorooman Creek is a popular spot for salmon chasers, and the sandbanks and down around the timbers are a great starting point. The Causeway, Ross Creek and Barwells Creek can all hold quantities of blues, but Rosslyn Bay Harbour at times boils with schooling salmon. Captures of half a dozen are the norm. Blues congregate in the harbour entrance and along the internal walls on either side. Yabbies, yorkies, prawns and pillies are the baits of choice. Jigged Flashas and wobblers are appealing to salmon, and if the fish are fickle these lures can induce them to bite nearly anything that shines.
Blue salmon are currently moving along the Farnborough Beach area. A couple of big fellas have been caught in deeper gutters near the mouth of Corio Bay and right down the beach past the main surf spot. With a bit of wash pushing in on the run-in tide, try a typical tailor type rig. We find these fish prefer a bit of run in the water and will hang just below breaking waves in the white water. Inside the creeks the blues use the leading edge of the tide to grab any bite-size critters in their way – much like king salmon do.
Salmon love whiting fillets and, in places where the big salmon run, live whiting also work well.
Over winter there have been a number of tailor caught at a variety of locations in the region. “Tailor up here?” I hear you say doubtfully. Well, the last few years tailor have made their way north when it gets very cold. Farnborough Reef is normally the place to target these fish but, as proven by recent captures, Corio Bay has a share as well. It makes me wonder if the rocky outcrops and beach gutters coming up the front of Curtis Island could work. Reports of the odd tailor at Yellowpatch came through last year. Over previous years the quantity of tailor caught here has risen. It can’t be the water temperature because, apart from abnormal currents, temperature has remained nearly the same.
Black jew are still on the menu at Corio heads, Ironpot, Rita Mada, The Pinnacles and Double Heads. Livies and dead bait both catch jewies. Lately we’ve been trying the large size Japanese single hook jig, and we’ve had some success at the deeper spots.
Red emperor and red jew, along with most of the popular reefies, remain on the chew in close over winter. Coral trout are moving into shallow reefs later in the month and into September. Mackerel – another favourite up here – have a change in the guard, with the doggies moving out and the spotties moving in. Spanish mackerel numbers will also increase over the month.
Ribbonfish numbers are up again and so are bonito, so be sure to top your bait supply up whenever the opportunity arises. Bream, whiting and flathead have stayed around in the estuaries, and some big specimens have been weighed in of late.
Now the days have started to get longer again and as the temperature gets warmer, more species will appear at our doorstep. The best part about August is that the winter fish are still hanging around for another month or so.
Murray Donald, not a very regular fisherman, went down at Port Alma (at the mouth of The Fitzroy River) with a friend who knows the area. The guys checked out structures near the boat ramp until they nabbed a few keepers. They were using flesh baits and didn’t have to try too hard before landing several top shelf breambos and some cod.
The search has been on for a real 2kg bream, and someone up here finally got one on film. The fella in the photo hereabouts was the biggest and a couple others came close.
Have you ever wished you could phone somebody out at the islands to find out what the wind speeds are, or you’ve lain in bed wondering whether it's worth putting the boat in the water? Well, now there’s a way to find out without even having to get out of bed! Kerry Mathews of Yeppoon has established a weather station on Pumpkin Island. This island is approximately 16km E-NE of Yeppoon, so the observations are just what we need for Keppel Bay. For just the cost of a call to a mobile phone (about 70c peak and around 30c off-peak for the duration of the message, which is approximately 1.05 minutes) you are given the latest weather conditions for Keppel Bay by an automated voice system. It’s not meant to take the place of official BOM weather forecasts – you should still check those – but it does help to fill in the gaps, with 24-hour coverage. You can contact Pumpkin Island Weather Conditions Live on 0409 392 007. Kerry is looking for support and feedback from the local marine community. You can give comments and feedback to PO Box 343, Yeppoon Q 4703. Pumpkin Island is approximately 16km E-NE of Yeppoon, so the observations are just what we need for Keppel Bay.
1) The Fitzroy River delivers quality threadfin salmon during winter.
2) A fair dinkum 2kg bream, measuring 480mm long.Reads: 2511