Back into the Action
  |  First Published: April 2010

It has been dismal fishing in Gladstone last month so I am looking forward to cleaning the dust from my boat and heading out.

Last month big seas and strong winds had boats restricted to the harbour, rivers and creeks but now, with the fresh water moving out, I expect to see action on the reef and around the mouths of the creeks.

There have been a few windows of opportunity, if you had enough power behind you, for a quick trip out to the closest reefs. While most boat ramps were fairly quiet, some bigger boats did venture out for a while and were rewarded with decent catches. Mine, however, stayed undercover.

Beach Fishing

We were lucky to have a ‘Mates Weekend’ at Facing Island recently and between the rain showers we fished along the harbour-side beaches chasing whiting. They have been a bit elusive of late but we hoped we would improve on this situation.

While bags weren’t bulging like we had hoped, the whiting that found their way into our bags were fat little blighters and they provided a nice supply of fillets. The most productive areas were Oaks beach, Farmers beach and The Caves. We didn’t do so well on the exposed points right under the lighthouse and beaches around Castle Rock where weed interfered with fishing.

Live yabbies outfished prawns this weekend but were elusive. There were a few extra pumps between each yabby so for lazy fishers, like myself, prawn was the bait of choice.

Now that the sun is shining and the wind and rain have abated, likely spots for whiting will be along the Facing Island harbour side mangrove beaches. They have proven worthwhile spots in the past with whiting cruising the sand banks and bream, grunter and fingermark coaxed from the mangrove roots by fresh yabbies. Even the occasional parrot found itself on the sharp end of the hook.

On the Reef

Those who were able to head out to the reef were rewarded. Cape Capricorn is one of the nearest reef areas to Gladstone and has the advantage of being close to the coast of Curtis areas just in case the weather blows up. There is also the advantage of having Rundle Island close by and this offers good protection from strong south easterly winds.

There are also plenty of big coral bommies in the area. This is Martin Davis’ hunting ground and he knows this area well and outfishes most. His bait of choice is soft plastics and jigs. I have been out on Cape Cap in my boat watching him drag fish after fish into his boat. It’s a bit of a morale killer when you only have bait on board and bait doesn’t do the trick. Still, his expertise is famous and he has the pictures to prove it.

The area directly under the lighthouse is a good location to troll for mackerel. There are plenty of rocky outcrops easily identified on sounders, which hold good fish. Solid grunter, jew and cod can be brought to the surface here.

Further east of Cape Capricorn is a ribbon of coral which runs along the Capricorn channel. You can bring trout and red throat into the boat from this reef structure. Tuskers will also come from the bottom and if you keep your squid jig handy, you could add calamari to the menu.

In the Marina

The reduction in boat traffic inside the marina gave fish a chance to be more active and proved a great opportunity for anglers to line the rocks walls. My family was having a quiet barbecue at the marina while Troy was fishing nearby with light gear. His light rod went into overdrive so we put a hold on watching the steak on the bbq and turned to watch him pull in quite a respectable sicklefish. He was using prawn for bait and it proved to be just the shot.

It is a picturesque spot to laze away the hours and soak some bait. The usual boating traffic frightens most fish to the depths but on miserable days when few boats venture out, it can be a winner. You can throw a line towards any number of pontoons in the marina.

From the area near Spinnaker Park you can access the harbour and the marina. The rocks from this vantage point are quiet safe to fish from and you can hook onto some passable grunter. The rock areas hold some decent fingermark and Moses perch but you have to be prepared for some tackle loss.

You can also fish the marina where, if you fish close to the rocks, you will hook up to some bream. The best tackle here includes a long trace that can move more actively around the rocks and entice active bream. With the hook waving around you may be able to reduce tackle loss caused by hooking up on the rocks.

In the Estuaries

This is the peak time to hit all rivers and creeks as day temperatures are less oppressive and the evening temperatures are still quite comfortable.

You have to go a long way to beat Graham Creek as a picturesque and productive location. This is Gladstone’s crabbing hotspot as there are a number of mud drains that leak into the main creek. If you can get in early and throw your pot into any of the drains, you will usually come up trumps. However, it is a popular spot for crabbers so first in, first served but expect that others may throw their pots on top of yours.

The mangrove edges of Graham Creek make it ideal to fish for bream, jack, grunter and perch. I like to fish the deeper holes at the mouth of the bigger drains, particularly on the top of the tide. I figure anything that goes in must at some time come out. I try to keep my bait moving to make it just that little bit more appealing.

It has been a while since we have had the usual salmon run through the Narrows. I still like to hunt them around Middle Creek and Ramsays Crossing so, while it’s still a little early, I plan to check for salmon during May. You have to be in it to win it!

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