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Lighten Up for Winter
  |  First Published: May 2010



The cool weather in Central Queensland is a bit of a misnomer. I haven’t owned a jumper for 20 years, so I am in my element this time the year.

Now is just the right time to get into the estuaries and hammer the smaller species with your light gear. You have to go a long way to beat camping, fishing and/or boating in CQ during June.

On the Reef

Cape Capricorn is still producing the goods with grunter, jew, cod, trout and sweetlip featuring in catch reports. Numbers haven’t been great but quality more than makes up for the lack in quantity. Lives baits and soft plastics are the ammunition of choice. The Capricorn channel, which will appear on most plotters, is a good place to start exploring.

If you enjoy working structure, the area around Rundle Island is a top spot. Both sides offer very different fishing environments. The southern side of the island is considerably deeper with large structures sometimes separated from the island proper. The northern side of the island is more of a shallower shelf, still with heaps of structure but often on a gravel floor. But be prepared to lose some tackle.

The Rock Cod Shoals have been a little hit and miss of late. I am hoping that with the more stable weather of June, I will be able to prove that things have turned around.

Camping and Fishing

Just 90 minutes south from Gladstone are the sister townships of 1770 and Agnes Waters. These are idyllic locations with plenty of camping opportunities. Both camping grounds are right on the beach, you have to go a long way to beat that. Agnes is a great swimming and surfing beach while 1770 is right on the river mouth and the perfect jump off point for reef or estuary trips.

For this family camping trip we decided to pitch our tents right on the beach at Agnes Waters. The camping ground is very family friendly. Swimming, beach walking, playgrounds and great night ghost crab hunting make it an ideal location for our family, which included two adventurous grandsons. Agnes Beach is patrolled and little boys just love paddling in the water while their Dad surfs the break on the point.

Fishing from the rocks is possible at Agnes and there seemed to be plenty of sand gutters, which would make this a viable fishing venue, however for this holiday we headed to 1770 to fish.

I wanted to introduce my grandsons to the joys of fishing so I rigged up a few small rods with egg beater reels. The area directly in front of the camp ground at the mouth of the river abounds in whiting, flathead and bream. They are generally easy to catch, making it prefect for beginners.

We managed to hook up with all the usual small fish and even amazed the boys with a sole.

When the boys lost interest in fishing, they would paddle safely in the shallow waters or play on the beach while we kept on hunting for a big one. The fish were generally the smaller specimens but on really light gear, it was all good fun. We demonstrated the catch and release theme of the modern angler to the boys.

Estuaries

Calliope River is one of the most scenic rivers in the Gladstone area, with a great variety and range of fishing options. The deeper reaches of the river send you past all the anabranches, under the railways bridges, past the sand bars of Beecher and onto the rock framed areas of Devils Elbow (see map).

My wife, Bev, and I headed out while the winds were raging 20-25 knots on the reef. We launched the boat at Armstrong’s ramp, which is always tricky in a southeasterly as it blows the boats back onto a rock wall. You really have to keep your wits during the launching process as I have seen some come to grief pushing off and assuming the boat would start.

We ventured past Devils Elbow to the first drain on the northern bank of the river (refer to spot 1 on the map). It is quite deep here and we were casting into the drains and the mangrove edges. It was high water on an ebbing tide so our baits were being carried into the mangroves, which suited us. We picked up a couple of grunter and bream.

We moved into the rock face area of Devils Elbow (refer to spot 2 on the map). The depth here ranges from 8-12m with several holes. The largest rock reaches into the river and on an ebbing tide the rock creates a still water area (refer to spot 4 on the map) on the eastern bank. On a big tide when water flow is strong, there is a distinct line separating the still water and the main flow of the river. It offers a different fishing opportunity to flick into the still water and drag into the main river. We picked up cod after cod, and were hit and dragged into snags where we were busted off – A typical cod ploy. So the strategy is to keep your rod high and wind in quickly after the initial strike to keep the cod off the bottom.

The area on the northern bank (refer to spot 3 on the map) is a large sand bank from which, on a good day, you can pick up whiting. Bev and I moved onto the eastern bank (refer to spot 5 on the map) that was heavy with mangroves. It was nearing midday and I have found that dappled light and shadow areas formed by mangroves are ideal locations for bream and grunter.

Sure enough, we managed to hook onto heaps of bream, grunter and fingermark as we flicked into the variegated sunlight. You have to love that!

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