Spanish mackerel and reefies have been the order of the day lately whenever there was an opportunity.
For the next few months we should get the big schools of Spaniards travelling through the bay and along the wider shoals.
Now is the time to bring out the bonito, big gar and ribbonfish stored from earlier in the year and rig them up for Spaniards. The bigger tides before lunch are the best, with a 4m tide at 10am prime for Spanish. Manifold, Peak, Flat, Pinnacles, Conical, Outer, Man and Wife, Big Peninsula, Barren, Humpy and Liza Jane are the go.
The schools of whitebait have lasted much longer that usual keeping tuna trevally and the lesser mackerels about for longer.
The most consistent species we have here is coral trout. They never seem to shutdown and most anglers get one or two for the bag most trips.
Whiting and dart have been along the beaches lately keeping the kids busy over the school holidays and providing a good feed or two. The estuaries are also firing with plenty of action from bream, whiting, salmon, flathead and trevally. These species should all be on the chew for the next month or so along with mud crabs, fingermark and jacks.
Last month we left heading into the mouth of the Fitzroy River and the start of the Narrows.
The Narrows is the stretch of water that goes from the mouth of the river all the way down to the port of Gladstone between Curtis Island and the mainland. This is another shallow area that needs to be travelled at high tide by anyone who does not know it well.
The western side of Curtis has dozens of small creeks that hardly ever get explored except by the local pro crabbers who don’t hang around long enough to do any fishing. The mud crabs here can be the best in central Queensland at times, so we always drop in a couple of pots on the way in and pick them up on the way out again.
The Narrows has a reputation for some of the best fingermark around. The locals pick up fingermark trolling deep divers along the many rubble banks and drop-offs.
There are also lots of other species here including barramundi, king salmon, blue salmon, mangrove jack, trevally queenfish, flathead, bream and whiting.
When the tides and the wind clash it can be quite uncomfortable crossing the wider parts especially coming from Port Alma or Connors Creek. The Ramsay Crossing boat ramp offers some protection and is a shorter distance by boat but it can be hard to get back to if you leave your run too late during the out going tide.
The Fitzroy River has a fair sized delta system with a number of islands and large creeks making for easily fishable country.
The beaches on the north side often have netters working them in season catching mullet, whiting, salmon or barramundi. Walking the beach with a whiting rod and a handful of yabbies can result in a great feed of whiting most of the year.
The locals just drop their crab pots on the bank at low tide and pull them out on the next low tide usually taking some fine crabs.
Coming into the river from the north is Mackenzie Island. It pays to stick to the middle of the channel here if you are not familiar with the area because there is a rock bar that goes right across from the mainland and it’s deep in the middle.
This rock bar is a favourite for large fingermark particularly when the run slows down. Black jew and grunter have also been caught in the pressure wave side and the eddy side out of the strong run.
Connors Creek is probably the standout as far as the average fisher goes because of the access and the rock structures which hold plenty of fish.
When the estuary grunter are on, Connors is the place to get the bigger ones. Deep drop-offs, mud and rubble bottom seem to attract them while other places are quiet. Some of the biggest barramundi caught locally come from Connors too and this is an area where trolling works well.
Port Alma is the boat ramp that services this end of the river and before the regulations changed some time ago the wharf was a great spot for huge black jew and barra. The harbour board advises there can be a jail term for trespassers inside the wharf exclusion zone, but there is still so much country around that it doesn’t matter this spot is off limits.
The features and structures are too many to name individually and most are visible as you are motoring anyway. Port Alma is home of the biggest local bream. In the last few years there has been quite a few bream caught over the 2kg mark and regular 1kg+ fish all the time.
From here on up the Fitzroy there are numerous rock walls that have collapsed into the river in part or washed around providing loads of fish holding spots. Between these and the many trees that have fallen in, you can spend days casting to each one and still not cover them all.
One standout wall is where Casuarina Creek hits the main river again. It has everything from shallow mud banks to deep holes, mangroves and deep rocks. I prefer to fish for barra when the water starts to run over the lower sections and foaming up the eddy. It is a great ambush spot with easy access anchoring and heaps of live bait at your feet.
Heading upstream is much the same, rock bars and big mud banks with large fallen trees; it’s great barra country. Prawns are easily found along the mud banks and there are acres of golf ball size dints in the mud from feeding king salmon smashing the mud stirring up the prawns.
Last trip we saw a big king coming half out of the water hitting crabs at the waters edge as the tide came in. The grunter fishers look in the main channel for the rolling undulating bottom where the grunter sit below the strong current waiting for an opportunist feed.
Pirates Point is probably the favourite but watch your fish finder as there are plenty of other spots very similar that all have grunter in season. Serpentine, Nankin and Gavial creeks are on the way up and are worth a look anytime going past for big king salmon and barramundi.
Once in the middle of Rockhampton there are so many rocks that even the local guys hit them occasionally. The two bridges, the barrage, the rocks and deep water are why this is a very fishy area.
King salmon and barramundi love this whole stretch and they can be caught from the banks or by boat on any given day, but night is generally the best time to fish. Night is when the jetty rats get most of their fish and the big barras cruise right up over the shallow ledges taking lures or live baits in water barely covering their backs.
It’s only one month til barra season opens again (February 1) and it could be a beauty. At the close of last season there was an unusual amount of just under sized fish in the system that have now had the chance to feed up and grow that extra bit.Reads: 5779