Spring Sleepovers
  |  First Published: September 2009

With the hot summer weather only a few months away, it is a great time to get on the water before the oppressive summer heat and the swarming insects curtail creek trips. I own a 5m Cruisecraft that is now 3 years old. This is an ideal craft for Gladstone and there are literally thousands of similar boats in Gladstone.

It is the entry level craft for most reef trips and it is a superb estuary boat. It will get to most places very quickly and provides an excellent platform for fishing, crabbing and camping.

Overnighting in Estuaries

Gladstone estuaries are great places to pull up stumps comfortably for the night and the 5m half cabins are just big enough for two to stay overnight.

The cabins are generally big enough for one person to sleep and the person who draws the short straw for the cabin floor is protected by the canopy or bimini.

The creeks of the Narrows are excellent locations in which to pull up for an overnight camp. The advantage of this waterway over others is that there are many creeks within easy reach, opening up a lot of different opportunities.

For night anchoring you need good depth, easy water flow and good protection. Hobble Gully is such a place. Big boats and yachts often anchor up in Grahams Creek and it can get quite busy at times. That makes Hobble Gully a nice alternative. In the middle of the creek there is plenty of depth on even the lowest tides and even the edges are steep enough if you allow for room to spin on the tide turn.

I like to drop the crab pots in Graham Creek and then spend the day fishing the Narrows. Middle Creek is great for salmon, Black Swan Creek is a top bream location and you can get hold of bumper whiting on the sand banks around Ramsays Crossing. Bev and I managed to hook onto a nice supply of keepers before heading back to Hobble for an on-board BBQ. Today’s camping gear is light and portable and perfect for smaller boats.

The sunset is always spectacular and private. As soon as the sun rises and sneaks over mountains, the mangrove edges of Hobble come alive with grunter and bream. After a cooked breakfast, it is time to pull up the crab pots. Once the crab pots are aboard, there is little else to do but go home, cook up the crabs and then start cleaning the mud from the deck of the boat. There is nothing stickier than Graham Creek mud.

Another of my favourite overnighter locations is Targinie Creek. You could easily spend the day fishing in Targinie itself – and I have. The deeper reaches are traversable at high tide but many spots dry out on the low. There are a few good holes further down the creek and on a recent overnighter Macca and I managed to pull heaps of good fish while stationed just over a hole near the southern arms.

We dropped crab pots inside most of the drains along the length of the creek and headed further inside the creek to anchor up for the night. A strong wind warning was current outside but we were safe inside the creek.

I wouldn’t stay overnight in these creeks without a couple of Mortein Outdoor Lanterns. These have a small candle sealed inside a lantern with a blue wick sitting in a small heating tray. We always keep two going in the cabin during the night. They last several hours. We know when they go out because the sandies start eating us alive. However they soon disappear when we change the candles and wicks. It is a good idea to stagger start the two candles so that the time without insect protection is reduced.

In the morning we wake to find the dash and the floor of the boat covered thickly by the dead little blighters proving the effectiveness of the candles.

On the Reef

Coral trout are being caught on most reefs in some numbers. While live bait is doing the trick, trout do not seem to be too picky at the moment and most are grabbing hold of fresh baits. The reefs around Masthead and Northwest are proving the hot spots but a few are also starting to appear on Rock Cod Shoals. They haven’t been consistent catches at the shoals for some time, so let’s hope this trend continues.

Squid are reappearing as well. Squid were often found following parrot to the boat sometimes attacking the fish on the hook. I always keep a squid jig handy but I haven’t had to get it out for a while. The traditional squid jig has to be the most effective weapon in a fishers arsenal. Most squid attack the jig with aggression and I have never had a squid escape. I hope the reappearance of squid gives me the chance of getting the jig out more often.

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