Gladstone Dreamin’ – Scotty Hillier June 16

Our Creek to Coast adventures saw the team arrive in Gladstone last month for the week to catch up with local guide and without a doubt one of the best in the business Johnny Mitchell charters, along for the ride was young Andrew McGrath from BCF, our mission was to film a BCF half hour that would include a bit of offshore, bit of inshore and a bit of in between. The only downfall was the 20-30 knots of Southeast wind OOhhh and a bit of rain thrown in……..But if anyone could deliver it was Johnny Mitchell.

Day 1 was our only opportunity to head offshore with the wind to increase later in the week, so we headed out through the Gladstone harbor in Johnny’s 6.6m boat aptly named Queenslander, as per Johnny style he was dressed to go with the theme in his Qld Maroon footy shorts and his Queensland long sleeve fishing shirt, exactly the same get up her wore when I fished with him 6 years ago, gotta love this bloke.

One thing that I really admire about Johnny is his attention to detail when it comes to fishing, he had a plan for every minute of every tide for the whole week, where we needed to be and what we needed to be fishing for, along with what style of fishing was needed and I can say he was bloody spot on every time.

We had to be anchored and baits in the water for what he said will be opportunity of a good bite for approximately 45mins. I sent a big flesh bait down to a depth of 35m while Andrew had a crack with a soft plastic, within 30 seconds I was hooked up to an absolute monster after mammoth battle I wrestled to the surface an approx. 18kg Gold Spot Cod, few quick piccys and back into the water he goes, next minute Andrew’s reel is screaming on the placcy, up pops a Spanish Mackerel in the 7kg range a first for Andrew. Then I couldn’t wait to get back down to the bottom, and again I am locked in battle with another big brut and what a pleasure to see a bit of pink as it made its way to the surface, in the net and there I was showing off a 9kg large mouth nannygai, my biggest I had caught for many years, it reminded me just how hard they pull in the shallow water, a few more fish and Johnny screams that’s it boys the bite is over, what a great 40 mins of fishing.

Next on the Agenda casting a few poppers for the next 2 hours of the run out tide around a few of the local Islands, hoping for a big GT. Andrew and I shared the casting duties on the big dumbbell poppers as our arms were still hurting from our offshore session, after a few strikes with no hookups, Andrew sets the hooks into a good fish, the first few runs were electric and Johnny called it straight away for a big Spaniard and he was spot on, there being cradled by Andrew a 15kg Spanish Mackerel another first for him. My turn on the rod when my popper is monstered by a big GT, we all saw the strike it was just awesome, we estimated it to be around the 30kg mark, bloody big, with a fish of this caliber everything needs to be done right, after a few minutes and all the hard work done perfectly, the fish away from the reef edges and in the deep water I was thinking we have got this in the bag…………… then my rod butt got caught in my shirt and as I dropped the rod tip to get it out, with that split second of slack line I had dropped him, I couldn’t believe it, either could the rest of the crew, anyway that’s fishing after a short outburst that involved a few colorful words our opportunity here had now finished with the tide now slack another hot little session.

Barramundi and mudcrabs were now on the hit list for the next few days. With a live bait tank full of live mullet, herring and gar we set off to find an area holding fish, I must say watching Johnny interpret his sounder and show us all the barra he was marking up and why they were sitting where they were was a lesson in itself, he was happy with a particular area and said to Andrew and myself that the bite time will be for 1 hour and again the bite lasted for 55mins (he is a freak) fishing the livies on a small running ball sinker rig he cast right to where he marked the barra up, handed me the rod gave us both a quick run down on what to do and what not to do, then during the chat my rod loads up and out of the water comes a nice barra around the 70cm mark, with a few more jumps much to the delight of our cameraman Arron, we had nailed our first barra, the bite was red hot for the whole time and we managed another 3 barra in the boat all ranging between 65cm and 75cm with another few not staying connected, a perfect addition to what we already had. It was now time to go and check the crabpots we had set early that morning, we pulled all 4 pots catching 3 of the biggest crabs I had ever seen, so we set sail to a secluded beach found a nice spot in the shade cooked up the muddies, washed them down with a refreshing cold drink, what a way to end and amazing day. After eating my body weight in crabs, Johnny said on the way home we might drop a plastic or jig on a local wreck for a school mackerel or two……….you guessed it, within a matter of minutes Andrew and I had nailed a handful of mackerel just to top off an amazing half hour of TV, and you can catch all the action of our BCF Creek to Coast special on Saturday the 11th June 5pm on channel 7, plus if you want to do what we did give Johhny Mitchell Charters a call on 0429723757, plus check out his website I thoroughly recommend checking out his brand new Fishing Master-Classes where Johnny is giving away all of his secrets on how to catch that fish of a life time. You can keep up to date on what I’m up to with Creek to Coast on Instagram @scottyhillier1