Grunter the go in winter
  |  First Published: June 2009

It is cool to be in Gladstone at the moment, both figuratively and literally, and I wouldn’t be anywhere else.


There is an old saying that you can only catch crabs in months that have an ‘r’ in their name. But, don’t be disheartened because there are still plenty to be found around Gladstone in June and July.

My wife, Bev and I placed a few pots along Graham Creek targeting the deeper drains along the mangrove edges. It proved to be a popular location as floats showed pots every 20m or so.

We managed to find locations for our eight pots and my plotter clearly marked their locations. When we returned the next day to pull them up, we couldn’t find one (I am reticent to say they were stolen). We had another two that showed signs of interference and one with the top sliced out by something extraordinarily sharp. Crab pot interference is disappointing and it is a shame that we have come to accept this as the norm.

But, we did pick up several huge bucks that gave us several good feeds and proved that you don’t need an ‘r’ in the month to catch crabs.

In the estuaries

Grunter are probably the most prolific fish in Gladstone’s estuary and tidal systems in winter, with solid specimens appearing throughout the waters at the moment. Best of all they seem hell bent on devouring everything in sight.

One of the many great eating fish to come from our waters, grunter are often also criticised for not being good fighters. While they are certainly not of the same calibre as sporting fish like barra and jacks, grunter can put up one ripper of a fight. And even better, grunter has soft white flesh and is excellent on the plate.

Grunter can be found by working the sand bars and channels throughout most estuary systems in Gladstone. They are voracious eaters and will attack almost any bait, especially fresh strip flesh baits.

Schools of grunter will travel the mud flats on the big rising tides and are good quarry on 6kg tackle. But the smaller specimens can sometimes be a pest as they have very aggressive eating habits. Grunter are frequently caught while fishing places like the Narrows, Graham and Targinnie creeks, Calliope River, Trees Inlet and the inner reefs.

Targinnie is my favourite location as it has a variety of options for anglers to explorer. At the mouth of the creek is a large hole that is about 20m deep in some spots. Small sharks frequent this location but so do big cod. There is also some anchor and terminal tackle grabbing structure here. I am not sure what the structure is but if you can keep you bait down, you are likely to be rewarded with good-sized cod.

Just inside Targinnie you will find mud and mangrove on the southern edge and sand banks and mangrove on the northern edge. Both edges are productive with whiting and bream often taken from the northern edge and grunter and jack from the southern edge.

Further into the creek there are fingers of sand banks that reach out mid creek, which are good locations for whiting. At the end of the main Targinnie Creek it separates into smaller tributaries and gravel banks start to appear along the shallower reaches, which are good locations to target salmon.

Salmon have also been hitting live prawns around Ramsay’s Crossing in the Narrows – a great location to work moving water. The area is renowned for strong tidal flows, so fishing can change daily. Target eddies for fishing action as fish wait to ambush food that flows passed in the current.

Winter whiting (or trumpeter whiting) are still featuring in catch reports from Colosseum. These fish are generally smaller than summer whiting and have distinctive blotchy, brown marks on the side of their body. The winter whiting also don’t have the distinctive yellow fin that summer whiting have. Be aware that the size and bag limits differ for these two species, with summer whiting having a size limit of 23cm and a bag limit of 30, whereas winter whiting do not have a size limit, but catches are limited to a bag of 50.

On the Reef

Seal Rocks is only a short run from Colosseum and some good cod are on offer from the northern edges of the rocks at this time of the year. The northern section tends be a bit deeper than the southern edge and I have always found it to be more fruitful. While the area is pretty much rock, there are clumps of reef that act as good attractors. I have heard reports of coral trout being caught here.

My mates and I had another go fishing Facing Island recently. Unfortunately we didn’t get enough to brag about. The weather was spectacular on the weekend, so while we were on the island, many of my mates took their boats out to bring back some trout from Masthead, mackerel from Sable Chief Rocks, cod and red throat from North West and jew from both Cape Capricorn and 12 Mile Reef.

While we were spending a glorious but not-so-productive weekend on the island, good reef fish were being caught all over the place. Isn’t it always the way!

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