This average size fingermark hit a Prawnstar jigged around a bait school on a rock ledge in the Calliope River.

Gladstone barra and jacks active

WINTER in Gladstone year has been very mild until recently, with temperatures rarely dropping below 12C on the central coast. This has seen the water temperature staying higher over winter and fish such as barra and jacks remaining a common capture. As the temperature begins to rise towards the end of August, these fish will start to bite for longer periods.

The Calliope River has given up some good barra to 1.3m and most are falling to live mullet around the hot water outlet. Smaller fish are coming from around timber and rock bars in the Boyne River, Toolooa Bends and upper Calliope River. Slowly worked soft plastics and suspending lures are still getting a few fish, and slowing your retrieve will be the key to getting consistent hits.

Blue salmon started to turn up in good numbers, with the Calliope River and Gladstone Harbour the pick of the locations. Live mullet from 50-100mm are the best bait for salmon but it’s worth having pilchards on board in case the salmon are only playing with the live baits.

The oily flesh of a pilchard can induce a stronger bite instead of the fish just mouthing your live bait. Shad and prawn-style soft plastics are enticing fish but hard-bodies around the 75mm size are receiving the most attention. Lures such as Mann’s, Tilsan Bass and Lucky Craft hard-bodies are just a few that are working, but anything with a good action will get fish.

Flicking along the edges of the mangroves with either lures or baits will see you in with the best chance. Flathead have been in good numbers, with plenty of school-sized fish in most likely spots. Their size hasn’t been great, with a 65cm fish being at the larger end of the scale.

However I have heard of the odd 90cm flathead being caught. They are hitting anything that moves near them, with most soft plastics and hard-bodies grabbing their attention. Live bait is another good way to get a feed of fish, and live mullet and herring are decent options.

Some good fingermark are coming from the Calliope River, and a jerk shad or paddle tail soft plastic worked around bridges or rocky drop-offs will soon be smacked by these fish. Bream have put their bulk back on after the spawning run and are feeding well on the prawns and small fish hanging around.

Prawn-style soft plastics and Prawnstar shrimp will be hit at will when fished around mangrove edges and rock bars. When bait fishing, live or fresh prawns and herring fished as lightly as possible will do the job. The relatively mild winter has meant mud crabs haven’t really slowed down and everyone I have spoken to has managed a few for a feed or two.

Lots of tarpon schools have been moving through both the Calliope and Boyne rivers, and most of the deeper sections will hold fish at some stage. Fish in the mid to high-60cm range have been common captures, and fish of this size put up a great fight on light gear.
A blade between 35mm and 55mm will do the trick.

BCF occasionally has Savage blades on special for the very reasonable price of $25 for five lures. While these aren’t the absolute best lures, they work fine and you won’t mind too much when you lose one to a fish. Estuary cod are keeping people entertained when fishing around snags and rock bars for barra and jacks.

Trolling the rock walls around the mouth of the Calliope River will produce plenty of fish, with the odd model going roughly 50cm. By the end of August the water temperature will hopefully be on the rise and we’ll have a few months of excellent barra action before the closed season.

The second half of August is also a great time to start actively targeting the red terrors as they become more active as the temperature rises. Cheers and happy fishing from Gladdy.

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About Gary Churchward

Gary Churchward

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