Time to get the winter chase on
The end of the cool weather has kicked in but the fishing is still red-hot, with the light inshore breeze offering plenty of fishing opportunities. The light westerly allows you to fish the coastline most mornings throughout winter, making for beautiful glassed out days fishing the harbour.
Once again, everyone is talking about mackerel. This month we can expect not just Spaniards, but school mackerel as well. There have been reports of decent schools coming in from around Gatcombe Heads and the One Mile Patch on the Northern end of Facing Island. These fish are great for families to catch, as you often find them in large numbers and they can be targeted in many different ways. The simplest technique would be with a pilly rigged on gang hooks either floated or under a balloon. Then there is spinning, which is very effective with the use of a high-speed spin reel and metal slug type lures, such as the Arma Radico and Flasha.
Spanish are showing up almost everywhere, with the usual hotspots being Rundle Island, Rock Cod Shoals and Seal Rocks. Trolled hardbodies are dominating at the moment but with so many different options, it is crucial to select the right lure for the job. There is no use going out with a 3m diver when all the fish are sitting deep in the water column, as it can be hard to draw the fish out of the depth they are sitting in. Standout lures so far this season have been faithful Samaki Pacemaker and the new kid on the block, the Rapala X-Rap Magnum Xtreme.
It's great to see everyone getting offshore, and from what I can see the fish are biting their heads off. This has to be some of the best coral trout fishing the Gladstone region has seen for years.
If you're looking at doing some close inshore trips, Twelve Mile Creek and Rock Cod Shoals are definitely worth a try. They are producing some excellent fish including red emperor, grassy sweetlip, red-throat, monster tuskfish and coral trout. It always pay to have a squid jig rigged up because there are also plenty of quality squid about.
Douglas Shoals is continuing to produce some beautiful big trout and red emperor along with the usual reef suspects. Sykes Reef gets a fair bit of traffic and I can understand why, with some of the best red-throat fishing, not to mention the huge variety of other species. Plus, it's only a short trip east to the shelf. Those venturing to the shelf have been rewarded with the tasty treats from the deep such as beautiful snapper, pearl perch, gold bands and comet cod.
The Gladstone Harbour has seen it's typical run of quality blue salmon come through, so be sure to catch them while they are still around. Winter is great for chasing flathead on the shallow sand bars and gravel flats. Shallow diving hardbodied lures are perfect for chasing this species, with a nice subtle action for flatties and super erratic action for salmon. Other ways to chase these fish are soft plastics and vibes down the edge of the bank as the tide falls, as there are often baitfish fleeing the shallows as the tide drops and the fish are waiting to ambush.
Black jewfish are getting around in good numbers throughout the harbour, but dont forget that the new catch limits apply with this species. They are quite a versatile fish that can be found in a host of different areas, from up in the shallows around 1m of water right out to the rubble ground in 30m of water. In the harbour they are typically found on isolated rocks, drop-offs and artificial structures.
Quality golden snapper have been caught from the rock walls and outcrops on live baits and lures, with plenty of cod and the odd barramundi coming as by-catch.
Winter bream have well and truly made their way into the estuaries now, along with blue salmon. If it's bream you're after, get yourself some fresh herring, mullet strips or prawns and you will be in with a shot. Big bream like structure, so rocks, gravel, mangroves and timber can all hold fish. To give yourself an even better shot, fish the making tide when fish are pushing up into and over the desired structure.
Blue Salmon are in good numbers throughout the Calliope River and the Narrows, and can be targeted with lures and fresh baits. If you're pursuing them, your best bet is making tide over gravel and sand bars of night using gar fillets and herring as bait.
Grunter continue to show up all over the place, especially throughout the South Trees and the Narrows systems. Whiting and flathead are fishing really well around Lilleys Beach with yabbies and prawns. They make for perfect target while fishing with the kids.
The traffic at Awoonga has definitely slowed down but the barramundi are still biting. Slow rolled plastics rigged weedless has been the undoing of most of these beasts. If thats not working, use your sounder and head out to the points to find the fish in the deeper water around that 8-10m mark, where a vertical style jigging is your best method. The best lures for this technique are soft vibes along with rattle traps and even prawn style lures such as the Ecooda and Zerek Live Shrimp.