Calliope River Anabranch
  |  First Published: November 2005

November sees the changing of the guards on the piscatorial front. The summer species are in full force and we can start to target the reef areas with gusto and pepper the estuaries. It is has been a little dry around Gladstone of late but the minute those summer storms flush out the rivers and creeks it will be on for young and old.

In The Harbour

There have been reports of some great catches around the islands in the Gladstone harbour. Tuna have been caught from the beaches around Curtis Island with some solid catches coming from the Turtle Street area.

Curtis Island has a range of fishing possibilities. Solid dart will feature in catch reports this month with the beach areas on the front of the island the best locations. The rocky spurs on the southern side protect large sand spits. If you are on the water you can cast into these spits, but you will encounter some serious swell at this location. Land-based anglers can cast into the spits from any number of rocky vantage points.

The boat ramp is a good spot to target mackerel on the rising tides, while the ramp area and the jetty pylons are productive for bream, dart and trevally.

The ocean side of Facing Island gives up quality tuna, especially around the rocky outcrops of Sable Chief Rocks, East Point Ledge and North Point. The beaches along this side of the island are renowned for dart, and as the weather warms, good size dart will be active all along the coast.

The Pelican Banks between Curtis and Facing will be great whiting haunts, as will the beach areas of both islands. Farmers Point is my pick of the whiting locations. Fresh yabbies are the killer bait here but they are hard work to locate in decent numbers at the moment.

In November, all areas around Rat Island are excellent for cod, grassy sweetlip and parrot. The coral sweep on the northern side of Rat is great because it sits on the lee of both Curtis and Facing and is very protected. This spot is best on the smaller tides, which enable baits to sit enticingly on the bottom. The southern side of Rat can give up huge bream. I have found the turns on the bottom and the top of the tide the best times here, with a running sinker straight to the hook the most effective rig.

Calliope River

My mate Al Whitfield and I recently made a morning trip to the Calliope River anabranch. It was a lazy trip because we simply grabbed some bait, travelled no longer than 15 minutes by boat and didn’t move too often. We fished during banking hours and planned to be home for lunch.

The term anabranch refers to any stream or tributary that separates from a river and follows its own course before re-entering the same river further downstream. The Calliope River anabranch separates upstream near the dual rail bridges and rejoins the river as it passes under the highway, skirting around Black Harry’s Island in the process.

It has many interesting fishing features. We started downstream after launching the boat from the upgraded boat ramp at Armstrong’s, which finally has its own toilet. I like this ramp as there is unlimited parking and it is generally not badly affected by tidal flow or winds. On the right tide you can access the Narrows from here by motoring around Wiggins Island.

Our first drop was a mere 5-minute trip from the boat ramp into the mangrove drains downstream (see 1 on map). Several large trees hang over the water here, setting up interesting shadow zones. We have had considerable success here previously but there are literally hundreds of drains at this location offering all sorts of different opportunities.

We were fishing just two days past a full moon so the making tide was whistling through and it took two anchors to stop the boat swinging wildly. With the tide racing in, we targeted the relative tranquillity of the drains for bream. At certain times, fish seek the calm waters of the drains, where they wait to pounce on food drifting past with the tide.

From our location, Al and I could flick into several drains so it wasn’t long before we were both hooked onto several smaller bream, some of which were close to 30cm. The bream seemed to attack our bait as we dragged it slowly into the main current. In the strong tidal flow, their attacks were more aggressive than their size warranted and it made for a fun start.

From here we motored to the bridge where the anabranch travels under Port Curtis Way, the route north from Gladstone. While traffic speeds overhead, the small pylons act as good fish attractors (2), but unfortunately a father and son in a tinnie beat us here. With his anchor clipped to a middle bollard he was able to keep his boat traversing the current. Since we couldn’t fit under the bridge, we backtracked to the main river.

There is a large rock at the mouth of this tributary (3), and it can found by sounding around the area. It is a good spot on which to anchor and can give up some decent salmon. However, we were also beaten here by another fisher and his children. It is only big enough for one so we left them and motored upstream to where the anabranch first splits off.

A small group of prop-smashing rocks are exposed at low tide on the southern bank of the main river (4) and they are a real menace when just submerged. However, they also hold some good size bream and Moses perch.

Further upstream there is a large sandbar (5) from which you can pull grunter, bream and whiting. This is also fully exposed at low tide. The stream here is lined with mangroves (6) and light berleying can coax out some quality fish. The anabranch meanders from here towards the main highway north but depth makes it suitable for smaller boats only.

On the way back to the boat ramp we drifted past the huge electricity towers that cross this river (7). In previous trips I have coaxed some fingermark, Moses perch and cod from these structures, but we weren’t able to get a hook-up, despite throwing some prawns in their direction.

Although we didn’t have huge success on this recent trip, the Calliope River anabranch and other estuaries around the area should provide some great fishing throughout November.

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