Red summer on the reef
  |  First Published: November 2009

Last month we finished with the Rosslyn Bay Harbour on our fishing tour of the district, so we’ll continue from there to Clayton’s reef. Located about 1km north of the harbour entrance, Clayton’s in line with the Lammermoor service station.

Clayton’s is an artificial reef caused by tonnes of scallop shells being dumped there in the past, before this practice was outlawed. This structure attracts mackerel, cod, salmon and bonito and is close enough to the beach for kayak fishers and the small tinnies.

Next to Yeppoon, where when the mackerel are fishing well you can see most of the local hot spots simply by spotting the boats congregating. The outside wall of the harbour is a particularly good location as it has easy access, but be careful where you step because it can be very slippery particularly below the high tide mark.

With the abundance of different species available to land-based anglers, sometimes you don’t need to go anywhere else. The north wall from Statue Bay is Yeppoon’s prawn hotspot. Barramundi, queenfish, bream, whiting and blue salmon are the main choice at Statue Bay, with big black jew also cruising around the wall with the incoming tide at night.

The green marker on the north corner is a favourite spot for doggies when the water glasses off early in the morning on high tide. A few old regulars come down at low tide and set a bait or two on the waters edge then wait for the run-in to start. As the water rises they often pick up good size cod or blue salmon.

Moving round the eastern side, there are several features including the Blowhole where big black jew and fingermark can be taken at almost any time. The jewies are the most productive around the full moon or the new moon. Down to the south point is a good spot when ribbonfish come in, because the land-based guys can get a shot at them too.

Out from the harbour on the south side is Ironpot Isle, which is one of the closest spots to any boat ramp attracting many of the small boats in the region. Mackerel of all kinds, including big Spaniards, hit Ironpot over the year because of the bait schools that hang around in the sheltered bays. Whenever we need Spanish baits, Ironpot is our first choice as it produces bonito and ribbonfish. There is also a jew hole at Ironpot that can hold heaps of black jew at times.

Heading south from Ironpot we come to Rita Mada which is a rocky reef structure coming out from a headland on the mainland. Rita Mada is a fish magnet for most of the pelagics and this location also attracts heaps of other coastal fish throughout the year.

Last year in a spot closer to shore the boys came across a school of blue salmon smashing whitebait, was 100m wide. To fish Rita Mada and the surrounding area you can launch a boat off the beach at Mulambin Beach.

This brings us to the Causeway Lake, which is the perfect family fishing location. The Causeway has swings, a swimming enclosure and boat hire as well as food and drinks at the kiosk straight over the service road.

The Causeway is one of the best barramundi and mangrove jack spots in Central Queensland. The lake also contains bream, whiting, flathead, salmon and queenfish. There is the added bonus of extra water running through to lake whenever there is a high tide over 3.6m. As the tide rushes over the causeway all of the fish in the lake fire up, not just those near the bridge. The Causeway also has plenty of mud crabs – as if you weren’t already convinced it’s the place to be.

South of the Causeway is Emu Park where there are a heap of headlands and beaches. Emu Park is also the gateway to a stack of islands where you can catch everything from coral trout to mackerel.

As well as the islands Emu Park also provides access to wider spots like Liza Jane, Hummocky and Cape Capricorn, which are home to reef species including big reds, nannygai and mackerel. There are a number of wrecks in this area too where yellowtail kings and small samsonfish hold for much of the year.

Next is Coorooman Creek, commonly known as Starvation Creek to the locals. It is one place that takes a little work before you rely on a feed regularly. On saying that, horse fingermark, barra, salmon and grunter all live here with flathead, whiting, bream and trevally providing plenty of action as well once you get the place wired.

Down the other side of Coorooman are Keppel Sands, Pumpkin Creek and Long Beach where mud crabs, whiting and salmon hold pride of place before heading into The Fitzroy (which I’ll finish next month).

The summer months can really fire up at times and weather permitting just about all tropical reef and estuary species will be on the chew for the next few months and over the Christmas break.

Barra Bounty

The Rockhampton Barra Bounty was held at the end of October and once again it was a great event. Teams from across the state fished hard over two days in this fantastic tag and release barra comp. All proceeds go to furthering the fishing future and stocking local waterways in Central Queensland.

The fishing was very hard with winds gusting well over 30 knots at times sending the fish off the bite.

A total of 131 barramundi were caught during the Bounty, which reflects both positive and negative aspects of the fishery. Out of the fish that were tagged 90% were undersize. This is a positive indicator as it shows the juvenile barra in the system are in good shape and there should be plenty of legal size fish next year.

But in a healthy system there should be a much larger percentage of bigger fish. Netters make a big dint in the barramundi stocks in our system, taking 40T of barra compared to less than 4T caught by recreational fishers.

The next Bounty will be held on 15-16 October 2010.

Have a great Christmas and a top New Year.

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