What a start to the 2019 saltwater barramundi season this has been! Over the past month there have been plenty of barramundi caught throughout the Gladstone region.
The rivers and creeks are producing good numbers but the standout has definitely been the harbour. Barramundi can be found in most areas throughout the harbour, including rock walls, islands, sand bars along with man-made structures. One of the main reasons I enjoy targeting barra in the harbour is the vast range of by-cast available, including black jewfish, golden snapper (fingermark), coral trout, grunter and plenty more.
Just because the barra season is open in the salt it hasn’t stopped people from heading out to Awoonga, and they definitely have been rewarded. Awoonga is continuing to fire, with many captures of fish in the mid 80’s through into the 90’s and even the odd fish coming in over 1m. It wont be long before Awoonga returns to its former flory of consistent captures of fish in the metre class. Constant wind over the entire summer caused the dam to fish better during the low light parts of the day. This was because there was typically a slight drop in the wind at those times, making more areas accessible to anglers.
River and estuaries
We need some rain to get the prawns and crabs moving. Although this past moth has produced many quality mud crabs, the numbers aren’t quite there. Still, as soon as we get some good rain they should really get moving.
This summer predicted some of the best grunter (barred javelinfish) fishing we have seen in the region for a very long time, with reports of fish in the 70s on the regular and even the odd fish into the 80s. Grunter are a very versatile species that can be caught on a variety of baits and lures. They tend to hang around the gravel and rock bars, however you can find them just about anywhere throughout most river systems here in Central Queensland. If you can find the prawns and herring you can guarantee the grunter wont be far behind.
Good numbers of mangrove jack are continuing to show up in the Calliope and Boyne rivers as well as Turkey beach and the Harrows around Ramseys crossing. Your best bet for targeting jacks is to fish early in the morning and late in the afternoon with lures and fresh or live baits. The Narrows is an exceptional fishery, and even when the wind is blowing it tends to be quite protected. In recent weeks we have been some large blue salmon being caught around Ramseys Crossing and Boat Creek, along with barramundi, golden snapper and grunter.
For the kids there are still some really nice bream and whiting getting around the mouth of the Boyne river, Wild Cattle Creek and the Calliope Historical Village, and the best part is that all these areas are very easily accessible. The best baits for targeting these fish are prawn and sand worms rigged with a size 2 long shank hook. If you’re feeling a little bit fancy you can even use a red bead as an extra attractant for the whiting.
There have been bugger all offshore fishing opportunities over the past few months, but those people who have managed to get out have enjoyed exceptional fishing, with everything from red emperor to coral trout. In the middle of February there was a window of opportunity with 4-5 days of weather under 10 knots, which was a welcome relief. It offered most people a chance to head out.
Rock Cod Shoals is one of the closest reefs to Gladstone, and it usually gets fished quite hard. However, with the continuous blow throughout summer it has had the chance to rest, and in the recent sessions it has been producing quality red-throat emperor (sweetlip), tusk fish, nannygai and coral trout.
For the larger boats that have been able to get to the wider reefs such as Sykes, Douglas and Fitzroy, the fish are plentiful. Catches have included large red emperor as well as coral trout, red-throat and all of your typical tasty reef species.
Fishing in March
This month I predict that the estuaries will continue to produce, providing we get some sort of rain to get the bait stirred up and mud crabs moving. If we get some good weather then you can expect the reefs to also continue to fish well, and we may even see some inshore pelagic such as long tail tuna, spotty mackerel and queenfish. So fingers crossed we see an end to this blow, and everyone can get out and enjoy some time on the water.
Michael Clarke has been getting stuck into the barra
David Hermann with a beautiful red emperor caught at Wistari Reef on a flesh bait