By Darryl Branthwaite
Living in the Gladstone region certainly has its benefits, with having rich off-shore and in-shore systems especially when its blowing hard enough to blow a dog off its chain, like recently, and the start of this week was in complete contrast.
Alas, many of us had to work.
This weekend we have the approaching first quarter of the lunar phase, with the tidal run reducing but unfortunately the wind isn’t playing the same favourable game with it still sitting around the 15 to 20 knots from the ESE.
This will certainly prevent many from venturing too far from shore, but on Saturday, at the time of writing, the prediction was that the wind might drop off in the morning until about lunch time.
It’s ideal for fishing that incoming tide.
The inshore fisheries of Pancake, Rodds Harbour, Collo, the Boyne River, the harbour and all the creeks and feeders to that system will be fishing well.
As you all know, targeting barra in the salt water system is forbidden and if you are deemed to be doing that the authorities will prosecute.
But at present there are plenty of other species to chase, like mangrove jack, finger mark, king and blue nose salmon, whiting, bream, and – if you are fortunate enough to find some reef to wet a line – the inner harbour spots of Manning Reef, Rat Island and the Oaks are producing some excellent pelagics along with solid grassy emperor and other reef species.
The poor old parrot gets a hammering as there are plenty of them caught right across the region, but they play such a crucial role in the reef’s ecology.
Often referred to as cockies or gravel trucks, these fish eat the dead coral or clean up the coral and shoot it out their “you know what”, which in-turn makes sand and turning that into our coral sandy beaches.
They are also a very versatile table fish, with brilliant white flesh which can be pan fried, deep fried or cooked in the oven. Not all species are good for everything.
At the end of the day, however, we need to treat the gravel trucks with a wee bit of respect and only take what we need, looking after the rest.
There are many charter boats operating out of the Gladstone region, from hourly guides through to full day fishing charter to extended charters to the Southern Great Barrier Reef and beyond.
Pictured here is Chris Trevor, affectionately known as CT, holding up what is arguably a 40 kilogram-plus GT on the back of one of those charter boats.
He was telling me he struggled to lift it for the photo, and young mate the decky was helping cradle the fish’s head so that it wasn’t harmed in any way.
They had gone to great lengths to look after this monster with irrigating its gills as soon as it was brought aboard, then carefully lifting it for the photo before returning it to the water – forgetting to weigh it. Pfft! If they didn’t have the photo it’d be just another fishy tail.
Cracker fish, CT!
With only another four or so weeks until Christmas, it’s time you all started to plan what the Christmas Day feast would look like in your house.
Seafood in this region is still the favourite, with whole baked trout lined with seared scallops, shucked oysters, topped with bugs and surrounded by red spot prawns.
Makes your mouth water doesn’t it? We’ll, it’s time to plan that and go hunting and collecting.
Collect your own scallops and oysters, go and pick up a couple of crays, slip out and catch that four to five kilogram coral trout or red emperor, and put your order in for five kilograms of locally-caught prawns or a box of red spot off your favourite seafood supplier.
Have a cracker weekend, and flick me some photos.