The lightest touch
  |  First Published: March 2009

Any month that has some holidays in it can’t be bad. There are a few long weekend opportunities during April so make the most of your boat as two-day weekends never seem to be long enough – Bring on retirement!

In the Estuaries

The rivers received a flushing after the recent heavy downpours and are now starting to clear. A couple of weeks ago, the only consistent catch in the Gladstone rivers and creeks was catfish. They seemed to relish the muddy conditions.

The best location while the rivers are being flushed out is right at the mouth. Bream and small grunter are being caught around Wiggins Island. Whiting have been caught on the sand banks.

There have been some cod coming to the boat from Trees Inlet, just near the bridge.

Quality crabs have been caught from Targinie and Graham creeks.

On the Reef

Mackerel are still hitting trolled lures and while the reports are not as frequent as they have been, good schools are still roaming around.

My mate Paul and I travelled on a glorious day to Cape Capricorn along the picturesque Curtis Island coastline. After waiting our turn on the busy main boat ramp, along with most of Gladstone’s boating population, we joined the boating queue with everyone heading to favoured reef spots.

I have to comment on the etiquette of Gladstone boaters. Everyone I have met at our boat ramps has been fantastic. Everyone is willing to lend a hand and help out if required. I have never encountered any sign of ramp rage like some cities. In fact, quite the opposite. I have had people grab the boat as I motored in or hold the boat while I parked the car. There is friendly banter from the locals. Top marks Gladstone.

Rock Cod shoals, Masthead and Northwest Island were popular destinations. A colleague had given me a couple of marks that I had not yet tried out. This was the perfect opportunity as the prediction was dead calm all day. The first mark was called Capricorn Pinnacles.

The Pinnacles were supposedly 12nm northeast of Cape Capricorn. We searched around the mark I had been given but couldn’t find anything of any consequence. We decided to drop some baits over the side anyway and pulled up every grinner on the eastern seaboard but not one reef fish!

So, if anyone has the marks for the Capricorn Pinnacles, I would only be too happy to test them out.

I know grinner make good trolling bait, but you can only catch so many. We had reached our limit so we up-anchored and headed back to Cape Capricorn to a wreck a few miles northeast of the lighthouse. The wreck is an old steel barge, which is currently lying upside down on the bottom in about 30m of water. I had fished it before so was keen not to waste any more angling time.

The wreck is easily found on a sounder as it is surrounded by a lot of structure – probably the very structure that sank it in the first place. The actual fishing area is relatively small but it is quite productive.

Because of the current we had trouble anchoring up and staying in touch with the wreck. The structure surrounding the wreck made it worth drift fishing so we kept the anchor inside and set our drift patterns. We were joined by mates Martin Davis and Mark Thomas who were also having difficulty holding an anchored location. They drifted across the wreck with us.

It was a friendly duel as we secretly watched each other pulling in our fish and checking out size and frequency – well, we were watching anyway. Martin and Mark were using soft plastics and what, from our location, looked like tiny jigheads. We were using squid on a classic paternoster rig with large snapper leads just to get to the bottom. How they managed to get their little jigheads to the bottom I don’t know! We had solid boat rods and TLD20s. They had what looked like skinny little rods and baitcasters – and they were hammering. They were pulling in three keepers to our one. And that went on all day long.

As we drifted our way around the wreck, we stayed pretty close to each other, sometimes coming within a rod’s distance. Close enough to carry on a conversation and check out catches.

We made several sweeps across the area and as soon as we came across the wreck we hooked up to something – but the window of opportunity was small. We watched the sounder with anticipation and as soon as structure came onto the screen, the rods went off.

We were pulling up nannygai, snapper, jewfish, grunter, fingermark and batfish. Lots of batfish. Unfortunately most of our fish were undersized and had to be returned to the water. Every time we looked over Martin, Mark or both of them were putting some monster into their icebox. They were proving formidable competition – even if they weren’t competing.

At the end of the day we had enough in the icebox to feed our families but Martin and Mark had enough to feed a small African village.

When we got back to shore, I headed to the tackle shop to refresh my soft plastics, jig heads and reef rigs.

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