Great estuary fishing!
March is usually one of the best months to fish in the Gladstone region and I can’t see this year being any different. The estuaries have usually had a good flush of freshwater by now and the wind normally drops, allowing people to get offshore, which has been few and far between over the past months. In recent years, we haven’t received much rain but this year we got some decent rain early, so fingers crossed it continues to roll through as the tropical lows build up north.
As a direct result of this, the estuaries have come alive with mud crabs moving around through most systems around the region as well as plenty of prawns, especially throughout South Trees, Calliope River and the Narrows. A great time to chase the prawns is around the new moon. Deep holes seem to be the standout but they can be caught in little drains and creek mouths on the low tide.
February saw the opening of the saltwater barramundi season and what a cracker it was, with plenty of good fish coming from the harbour and estuaries as well as the little treasure in the middle of town know as Lake Callemondah. The flow over of the lake and the season coincided almost perfectly, resulting in some spectacular fishing from both the salt and freshwater side of the weir. Keep this lake up your sleeve in case we see some more rain throughout the month.
Fishing the freshwater side can be effective without rain, however you will need to use a weedless jighead as the area is quite heavily weeded. The normal hot spots in the harbour produced yet another cracker start to the season with fish around and over the metre mark not uncommon at all, not to mention some of the spectacular by-catch consisting of golden snapper and even the odd larger size blue salmon.
While barramundi is a prime target, there are plenty of opportunities to target other species that are often overlooked in the Gladstone Harbour. Throughout February, we saw some great captures of grass sweetlip and coral trout, not the mention some beautiful tuskfish, commonly known as blueys.
If you want to catch tuskfish, matching the hatch is crucial as they are very fussy eaters. Tuskies are crustacean eaters and they absolutely love a freshly caught crab or prawn and some locals even chase them with freshwater yabbies. While they can be found in all sorts of areas, it’s common for them to be up foraging over shallow reef and gravel flats, making them quite an easy fish to spot once you know what you’re looking for. They are also the most iridescent blue while in the water so they’re pretty obvious. With that being the case, if they are just roaming they will often see you as well, which makes them even harder to get closer to. Stealth and presentation is they key to successfully targeting tuskies and it will be an advantage when there is a slight breeze blowing over your shoulder causing the slightest ripple on the water.
If you’re going to target this hard pulling tractor of a species, I highly recommend using a handline with upwards of 100lb monofilament line. As I said before, presentation can be the difference between getting this fish to eat your bait or just casually cruising on by, so it pays to use as little lead as possible, if any at all, to make the bait look more natural in the water. While you’re out chasing these awesome fish, it pays to have another line rigged with a pilly or even a soft plastic because you will find yourself seeing some other cool species like coral trout, cod, grunter and even big blubber lip bream. The estuaries are always great fishing at this time of year. The area seems to have produced more mangrove jack than anything else we have ever seen, which is a great sign for the region moving forward. Once upon a time it was very uncommon to see lure-caught jacks over the 50cm mark, however now they are showing up all over the region above 45cm. If you’re thinking about targeting them, there is no better time than now before the weather starts to cool off. Smaller flathead should also make an appearance this month in some of the more sandy estuaries along with the larger whiting.
Awoonga is only going to get better with the amount of fingerlings being put in there at the moment. Fish in the 50-65cm range are often caught around the tops of the trees as well as the shallow weed beds. They can quite easily be targeted on surface lures, making for unreal visual action. Afternoons into night leading into the moons are still producing the best results for the larger fish, especially on the wind blown points and timber filled bays. The water temperature may start to drop off but this doesn’t mean the fishing will. It should only have the fish spending more time in the shallows, where they can be easily sight casted. Be careful with every movement, as they can be easily spooked in this depth of water.
For all the latest info on what’s biting and where, drop into the shop or give us a call. The boys have their finger to the pulse to what is happening in the area, and are sure to point you in the right direction.