I love this time of the year – the weather becomes cooler, the skies become clearer and the reefs become fishier.
The fish always seem to be bigger this time of the year so I try to get out to the reef areas as much as possible. And parking the boat overnight in an estuary and flicking live prawns towards mangrove edges will always pay dividends.
The rivers are starting to fire up around Gladstone. I know of some brute size bream and grunter being caught in the Calliope River – and it’s about time. The muddy water residue of the past rains has now cleared.
The mangrove edges near the warm water outlet are the most productive. The deeper reaches up to and past Devil’s Elbow are still muddy and full of catfish. These fish are not a renowned sportfish but can be entertaining to catch on light gear, even though it is still a disappointment to pull one to the boat.
There are some good crabs being caught from Graham Creek but I would get in as soon as possible as the colder months tend to close the crabbing down a little. This is doesn’t mean you can’t catch them during winter months but rather they are just a bit slower.
Threadfin salmon should start moving into the Narrows this month. Salmon are typically bottom feeders but towards dusk they will prey on small fish. They bite best on the flood tide and frequent the mouths of creeks or channels; the Narrows is full of prime locations such as Black Swan, Middle Creek, Graham Creek.
Threadfin have huge mouths that can accommodate big baits but they are also good at throwing hooks. Large fish can be taken at night using live bait, but once the bait is taken wait until the fish moves away and swallows it before setting the hook. Live prawn or fish bait fished 1m under a float close to snags or a bank is productive.
Threadfin are known to fight like blazes and will quite often put on a great display of aerial acrobatics. This combined with being great on the plate, and you have a worthwhile target.
Some nice whiting have been pulled from Boyne River around Wild Cattle Creek. The yabbies have come back to the sand banks, which used to be one of the most consistent areas to pump yabbies. Unfortunately over-pumping has reduced supply at this location, so only take what you can use.
This area dries out at low tide but as the water flows back in and over the banks you can follow the fish in. Be very careful here as the current can be fast and it has been known to sweep people out to sea. There have been a couple of deaths at this location and while signs give tourists adequate warning, there is the occasional swimmer or wader who finds themselves in difficulty.
The last few weeks have been pretty darn ordinary and even the harbour has been chopped up. History tells me that these conditions should settle down in May, but then the weather hasn’t really followed the historical path of late.
If you are harbour-bound, head over to Gatcombe Heads and fish around the rocks. Sable Chief is a worthy location in good weather, and the mackerel there will attack trolled bait and lures. Good cod can also be pulled from the deeper holes.
The area around the mangrove edges of Quoin Island can also give up good cod. The northern side of the island has several good snags and while there is not a lot of depth close to the island, some deeper holes that house good quality cod can show up on decent sounders.
Just over the way on the edge of Curtis Island is an area commonly called The Gut. The water races past this location but if you can get into the calm waters you will hook up to a cod or two.
It has been hard work getting out to the reef lately with such lousy weather. A few boats have ventured out to Masthead and have come back with mixed catches, and a couple of trophy red throat have been pulled from the Masthead reefs.
Nannygai have been caught from the waters of Cape Capricorn, along with some big fingermark. Just under the lighthouse is proving to a productive location.
While you are at this location, it might be worth a trip into Yellow Patch for some small fish hunting. The whiting here are renowned for their size but they are also known to be fussy and picky eaters. If your bait is not fresh, you may not be in the race.
The deep holes around the rocks also house some big grunter. You can park the boat comfortably here or it is a simply walk from the beach area. This is one of the prime Gladstone boating, fishing and camping areas. As the weather cools down and the mossies and sand flies start to ease up, it is worth throwing the tent in the boat and heading up this way. Just make sure you pick the weather.Reads: 2732