The winter species are coming on
  |  First Published: July 2017

With the cooler weather moving in, the winter species have followed. This is an exciting time of year in the Gladstone region. There are still plenty of summer species floating around while the winter species are beginning to show up in good numbers.

Blue salmon are becoming more prolific throughout the harbour narrows and Calliope River. With the better weather and clean water there are good numbers of doggy and spotted mackerel around in the right places. Most of the shipping leads in the southern channel hold schools of mackerel as well as the Goat Rocks and Seal Rocks to the south. Cape Capricorn and North Entrance to the north generally hold good schools when conditions are right.

Spanish mackerel are likely to show up in good numbers. Bustard Head and Rundle Island are the most likely haunts. The best baits have been trolled whole doggy mackerel, hairtail or big fresh gar if you can get a hold of them. Most good tackle stores should have good gar and hairtail throughout winter as they become more available.

Turkey Beach and its surrounds have been fishing really well for flathead and whiting throughout May and June. Working the incoming tide and fishing over exposed yabby beds seems to be working for the bigger whiting. On a recent trip, we managed a good feed all on small poppers and stickbaits.

When fishing for whiting like this, we always take the back treble off and rig it with assist hooks. This seems to increase the hook-up rate dramatically. The flathead that have been landed have all been a good size with the average fish going 50cm. They certainly aren’t monsters, but they’re plenty of fun on light gear.

Those who have put the effort in have still been coming up with the rewards when it comes to barra. Although we lost a lot of the fish that came over the wall to netters, there are still a few schools throughout the salt reaches of the Boyne.

The fish are still holding on the deeper rock bars in that 6-8m depth. Slow worked vibes over these bars seem to be producing the most fish. The upper reaches of the Boyne round Pikes Crossing still have plenty of fish. As temperatures drop, expect the bites to slow dramatically. For your best chance, fish the last of sundown as the water temperature is at its peak.

The harbour is fishing really well, as it always does at this time of year. Schools of salmon are moving through and so far the average size has been a little bigger than in previous years. There are still reports of nice golden snapper being taken around the deeper structures.

A technique that has been successful over the past month is live baiting with big live mullet or herring, when anglers can find the bigger ones. Black jewfish are still popping up throughout most of the holes and are mainly being taken on fresh local squid. Try to get your hands on some squid or cuttlefish heads, which should be available at most good tackle stores.

The crabs have been very hit and miss over the past two months. One week you will get your limit, the next will be a donut. We were lucky enough to score a good feed down Turkey Beach way, despite finding all our pots on the second day had the doors left open and the bait cages emptied. I guess if they’re going to rob you, there’s no point trying to cover it up. It might be time to invest in a game camera!

Those that have had the time to get out front in the rare good weather windows have been rewarded with great catches. Red emperor, coral trout and massive redthroat have been there for anglers heading east. Anglers that headed north all did really well on the nannygai and grassy sweetlip.

Nannygai would have to be up there with one of my favourite fish to catch. The fact that they school, they’re aggressive and also fight hard and clean make them exciting to catch, especially when fishing light with artificial baits. Use a 4000 sized reel, 20lb braid and PE1.5-3 jig sticks – it doesn’t get more fun. Using micro-jigs is an easy way to fish for nannygai, as they often sit at different levels of the water column.

The use of a good sounder and colour incremented braid makes finding and catching these fish a lot easier. Some of the best jigs to use are Palms Slow Blatts, Storm Koikas and Yakamito Spirits. I’ve found colour isn’t much of an issue; it’s more about the action. There are so many different ways to jig, so either jump on YouTube and have a look or call into your local tackle store and have a chat to the staff members who know what they’re doing.

July should see some more consistent weather and cooler temperatures. With that, hopefully more people will end up heading out and making the most of this amazing area. If you do happen to get out, please send your photos through to our Facebook page at LJ’s Compleat Angler.

• For more information on what’s biting, or to stock up with all the tackle and bait you need, drop into LJ’s Compleat Angler Gladstone at the Gladstone Marina on Bryan Jordan Drive. You can also check out the latest news, photos and specials at Facebook Compleat Angler Gladstone.

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