Clear skies with a chance of barramundi
Calm seas and clear water has been the norm lately, and with winter now behind us we can look forwards to the weather warming and a change in species to target.
With the recent weather there have been plenty of people getting offshore, reaping the rewards and enjoying this beautiful weather we have had. While there is still some quality Spanish being caught, a lot of the focus has been around the bottom fish. As the weather warms, you will find the fish will start to move out of the deeper areas and up to the shallow reefs and shoals.
Coral trout and red throat emperor would be up there as far as quality reef fish go, and through winter they were a common capture in the 30-40m depths, however if we get some better weather as it warms up then you will find them up around the reef edges and even up on top of shoals. Shoals such as Rock Cod and Douglas, Innamincka and Habberfield are worth a look.
The latest trend in the Gladstone region that is proving very effective is dropping soft vibes and prawn imitations around the 10-30m depth range, varying your weight to suit the tidal flow. It seems that more and more people are getting into deep dropping off the shelf on the eastern side of the reefs.
The closest area in 100m off Gladstone is east of Sykes Reef where pearl perch, goldbands, snapper and comet groper are common captures. While most people head out there to target the bottom fish, there is also some excellent jigging opportunities for species like amberjack and yellowtail kingfish, its also not uncommon to see large mahimahi in this area.
Around the reefs it’s also definitely worth packing your GT gear, as there are some quality trevally being caught on both stickbaits and poppers, with my tip on those glassy calm days being floating stickbaits worked with a slow sweeping action. Don’t be surprised if a big old Spanish shows up as you do this.
The harbour has produced some spectacular fishing over the past month and is expected to continue with the warming weather. The harbour would have to be the most consistent area to chase barramundi in the Gladstone region, when fish over a metre are common captures. Its not only barra on the chew, there is seemingly more and more golden snapper (fingermark) showing up around the rocky outcrops, gravel bars and artificial structure, with many quality fish over the 500mm mark.
With golden snapper, it’s often the case that they like clean water with plenty of tidal flow, where they can ambush baits from the safety of some sort of structure, and they can be found all throughout the harbour in depths ranging from 1m all the way down to 18m and sometimes beyond.
There are also a few salmon getting around the flats on the bigger tides, and as the bait starts to push up over the shallows the salmon wont be far behind. Fresh gar fillets and herring have been dominating, however topwater lures like stickbaits and poppers along with shallow diving hard bodies have produced results.
Just a little tip for the upcoming months: head over around Rat Island and South End, as the coral trout will be in good numbers in these areas. Coral trout can be quite easily targeted in amongst the structure with soft plastics and vibes, as well as by trolling up over the reefy structure with shallow diving lures. When trolling you can get a head start on the fish to get it away from its home.
In the estuaries bread and butter species are a great option at the moment, with good numbers of flatties coming in from South Trees and Wild Cattle. Whiting are often an overlooked species in our area because of all the other species to target, however it’s very hard to beat pumping some fresh yabbies and going to sit on your favourite sand bar with a nibble tip rod and some 6lb line. Areas like Lillies Beach and the mouth of South Trees Inlet are producing good fish, and the best part is its even accessible by 4x4. These areas have some big gutters running along the front beach, and it’s not hard to find the fish, especially on the making tide.
Warming waters have seen an increase in mangrove jack captures around the Boyne River, Turkey Beach and the upper reaches of the Calliope. Surface lures would have to be the most exhilarating way to target these fish, and I suggest if you haven’t got your hands on some fizzers, then they’re well worth adding to the tackle box. I have personally found that the hook up rate on fizzers is up there with the best of the surface lures, as they get the jack extremely fired up, especially around sunrise and sunset.
Barra are well worth putting on the target list, with some great catches coming in from the local river systems on both lures and live baits. The technology in recent years has made it a lot easier to pinpoint these fish, therefore more often than not you are fishing schools that have already been targeted by another angler. This is where matching the hatch and dropping lure size can often result in barramundi hitting the deck of your boat.
Lake Awoonga is already firing right up, with many predictions saying that this will be the best season Awoonga has ever seen. Typical size class of fish is in the 800-950mm range, and these fish are running riot out there at the moment. Barra this size are size are said to be the best fighting fish, spending equal time in the air as in the water, with powerful bursts of energy. The build up to the moon has been the best time to target these fish, with many anglers spending nights fishing the moonlit dam where large schools of fish have been found moving into the bays. Early morning fishing with surface lures is so much fun, and watching a bow wave moving towards your lure while you are anticipating the explosion is hard to beat.
For all the latest info on what’s biting and where, head in store at Pat’s Tackleworld Gladstone. The team have their finger on the pulse to what is happening in the area and are sure to point you in the right direction.