Big Gains on Small Targets
  |  First Published: February 2010

Small target fishing is the top action this month.

Bream are active in the Calliope River around the power station. Fishing from the edge at dusk has produced the most success.

The bridge at Auckland Creek is giving up small fingermark. Target them by throwing your gear as close as you can to the leeside of the bridge pylons.

Prawns are also abundant, and night fishing is producing the most.

On the Shoals

I took my own advice from last month and headed to Rock Cod Shoals with my fishing mate, Al. Rain had continued to fall unabated during the previous month but a brief break in the summer wet gave us a small window of opportunity. The BOM website and BOUYWEATHER showed the winds would die down to 5-10 knots and the swell would be between 1-1.2m. Pretty near perfect – on paper!

Gladstone was also having the biggest tides in history. Highs were over 4.5m and lows were less than 0.5m. We expected a lot of water movement but it was still worth a trip out.

We left on the low, which is not my preferred time as the northern channel is silting up and you can bottom out on low water, even in the channel itself.

Nevertheless, we found ourselves at the main ramp, backing the boat into the water until one of the trailer wheels came to the end of the ramp and rolled straight into the mud. This was one of the lowest tides I had seen for a while. The ramp only just reached the water’s edge but it is unforgiving once you go off the end. So we sat, tilting 30º to starboard as the left wheel was firmly held by mud and, even in 4WD, wouldn’t budge with the weight of the boat.

Things continued to get worse. As we let the boat into the water the hull also hit the mud and would go no further. We had no choice but to stand at the ramp being chewed alive by sandflies as boat after boat joined us, saw the situation we had got ourselves into and waited for the tide to come in. This is marginally more exciting than watching grass grow.

It probably wasn’t that long before I was able to launch the boat, retrieve the trailer relatively unscathed and get underway.

The harbour was glassed out as we expected. As soon as we reached Rat Island and passed Facing Island, large swells changed the profile. What was to be a quick trip to the shoals, proved to be a spleen-removing ride, during which I was twice thrown from the driver’s wheel as my foot slipped on the wet floor. When you haven’t been fishing for a while, you will do anything to get your line into the water!

We eventually reached the shoals and brought in several sweetlip and tusker, and every 36cm red emperor on the eastern sea board. Those extra 2cm must take a long time to grow!

We also caught a squid when it wandered up with one of our catches so we added calamari to the menu. Luckily, I keep a squid jig permanently attached to a small telescopic rod and reel that is always on hand. On these shoals squid will often follow your catch to the boat so don’t miss an opportunity to hook up.

We motored home with enough in the esky for a good couple of feeds. As we expected, the northern entrance at Rat Island was awash as a huge volume of water tried to escape the harbour while the offshore winds tried to keep it there. It can be a little tricky here at times so I stayed on the back of the waves and slowly surfed the boat into the harbour.

In the Harbour

Tuna have been very active in the harbour this month. Plenty of boats have been getting onto active schools while trolling along the ocean side of Facing Island around Sable Chief and Eastern Ledge.

Scott and Libby were doing some bottom bashing around Facing Island near Castle Rocks and picked up a good share of sweetlip. While they noticed surface action with feeding birds, Scott was happy with bottom bouncing rather than chasing surface movements. However, his reel screamed out and line was being stripped faster than he could retrieve. Suspecting a shark, Scott was almost going to cut his line but like all fishers, he just have to see colour before giving up the fight. His was surprised to see a decent tuna on the sharp end.

There have been good hits near Tide Island. Fingermark and grunter are hitting baits around the rocks but big cod are being pulled into boats from the deep holes near the boat ramp.

In the Estuaries

There are good reports for crabbers from Graham Creek but the large water movements mean you have to either weigh your pots down or tie pots to a nearby tree. Macca and I went crabbing in Targinnie and couldn’t find three of our pots. Giving them up for lost, we headed home but came across the three pots in a line floating with the tide down the channel heading to Gladstone.

Whiting are plentiful on the beaches especially around the Lillies and Tannum Creek. Live yabbies are true whiting magnets. Luckily both locations have nearby yabby banks so you can pump them as you need them. Remember to only take what you need.

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