FOR all varieties of angler, Central Queensland covers most of your fishing options, goals and needs. Central Queensland runs from Gladstone in the south to Mackay in the north and covers about 500km of coastline. With many locations reachable only via sea, many locations are virtually untapped. Here’s a breakdown of what CQ has to offer in fish species and where you are most likely to find them. CQ fishing
The iconic barramundi is likely the most sought-after estuary species in the region. Central Queensland has a great natural population of barra, which is only getting better with the introduction of net-free zones in Rockhampton and Mackay. While barramundi can be caught throughout most of the region, Rockhampton’s Fitzroy River into Port Alma has become a fantastic fishery and one of the best for a consistent chase of larger fish.CQ fishing
Hard to believe, I recently read an article by John Boon who caught metre long barra as by-catch when targeting threadfin salmon. This was awesome news and – the fact that many of the best fish come from rocks in the middle of town on a consistent basis – is a great indication that the area has so much going for it. It doesn’t matter if you like trolling lures, soaking a bait, flicking at shallow timber or fishing the many deeper drop-offs and rock piles, the Fitzroy has something to suit everyone’s fishing style.
The Pioneer River running through Mackay also has a fantastic barra fishery and consistently produces good numbers and size. Gladstone also holds good barramundi in its rivers, creeks and into the harbour. The many creeks and headlands covering the coastline up and down the region, will all hold barramundi. There are a few stocked impoundments that regularly produce great fish and as a bonus you can score the odd saratoga or sooty grunter.CQ fishing
Impoundments are a good option during the closed season – which starts November 1 – or when the weather isn’t quite right for hitting the salt. Personally, it would be hard to go past Rockhampton and the Fitzroy River system to target barra. Threadfin salmon are another option in Central Queensland, and while they can be caught along the entire coast, the Fitzroy River and Port Alma region is the standout. The sheer volume of schools that move through this system is mind-blowing, and the sizes these fish reach are incredible.
Gladstone does hold a few threadfin but they are typically found as single fish or small, however towards Mackay they become a more common capture. Black jewfish are quite common along the coastline and the further north you go, the more common they become. Typically, black jew will be found around local reefs and isolated rocky outcrops, which litter the coastline. The odd fish have been caught in deeper sections of rivers, though usually smaller models.CQ fishing
Gladstone Harbour can at times hold good schools of this fish, specifically around the rocky headlands that fall into deep water off the islands. Remember, black jewfish are a no-take species until next year and they do not release well when caught from deep water, so if you start pulling these fish from deeper water it’s a good idea to move elsewhere. Queenfish, trevally, mackerel and tuna can also be targeted along the coastline. To find these species, target pressure points where tidal flow is pushing bait up against structure.
Many of the islands off the coast have at least one spot around them where this occurs during a tidal cycle. If they don’t, it’s still worth a crack before moving on because these locations are regularly frequented by a variety of large predators. The shipping channel and markers through Gladstone Harbour can hold decent queenfish schools at any time. These fish are one of many trophy or bucket list species readily available in the Central Queensland region.CQ fishing
Most of the prime locations can be accessed by your average trailer boat, depending on weather conditions. When you add species like mangrove jack, fingermark, blue salmon and grunter, along with reef and bread and butter species, it’s obvious CQ has it all. Plenty of smaller towns along the coast make good spots for spending a few days, to hit the water and explore this wonderful region. If you don’t want to drag the boat around or spend time searching for fish, a number of extremely good charters operate along the coast.
Now we’re almost into October, I’ll be heading to the Fitzroy River and Port Alma to chase a few barra before they’re off limits until next year.