New Moon & Northerly Winds
Light winds right now are forecast to increase and turn more northerly for this weekend. This may limit smaller vessels venturing out onto the bay and beyond but the inshore scene will be readily accessible as will our local estuaries and impoundments. The weather boffins seem quite conflicted as to what might happen next week at this stage so best you check the latest forecast as the week rolls on.
The building tides leading to Monday’s new moon will see an increase in activity for a range of pelagics, reefies and estuarine species, with the increased air temperature likely to stir up the estuary dwellers and shallow reef inhabitants in particular.
Coral Reef Fin Fish Closure
The first of this season’s Coral Reef Fin Fish Closures is set for 25th – 29th October (from midnight tonight till midnight on the 29th). This means that species listed under the Coral Reef Fish plan cannot be taken during this period. The southern boundary of the area affected by this closure is latitude 24°50’S, so if you stay south of that line then you can legally take coral reef fin fish species. Venture above that line with the same species on board and you may end up regretting that decision.
Local Billfish Scene Hotting Up
There has been small numbers of juvenile black marlin caught in the northern parts of Platypus Bay recently, mainly from the Rooneys area and a little further south. We have not heard of any significant numbers from within bay waters at this stage, but those scouting for billies and finding them typically keep their catches fairly quiet, and rightly so.
Out over the Breaksea Spit in the vicinity of the 13 Mile Crossing there has been numbers of sailfish and small blacks on a much more regular basis. Towing a spread of smaller 5-6 inch skirts behind a string of teasers has been attracting plenty of action. You may prefer to troll swimming and skipping gar instead which are also deadly effective, but you still rely on the teasers and the boat’s engine/s to draw the billies to your baits.
Bait and switch techniques work really well for the better-tuned crews that know how to withdraw the hookless baits with precision timing to slip a fly on the billie’s nose. An even simpler version of this technique is to carry a few live yakka in your live bait tank and to toss one in front of a lit up billie on your spin gear.
There are so many ways to catch a marlin (or sailfish), and one should not be deterred from trying because it seems too complicated. It can seem so for the pros, but for us average Joes it is just another fish (albeit a high speed, handsome version) that eats smaller fish and if you keep this in mind and get yourself in front of one in a feeding mood then you are in for a serious adrenalin rush.
Bay Pelagics On The Move
There have been reports of quite large longtail tuna from off the Wathumba Creek area of late. Schools of baitfish are drawn to that area by the algal blooms this time of year and the tuna and other pelagics are right onto them. Big spanish mackerel have also frequented the same areas, though just like the bigger longtails they are often swimming solo. Do not be tempted to keep a spanish from that area, as not only is it illegal, they are an incredibly high risk of ciguatera from the very algal blooms drawing them and their prey to the area.
Big longtails are showing up in small pods throughout much of the northern central bay. They can tend to spend a lot more time subsurface than up on top, so they can be a little hard to track down this time of year. Golden trevally schools are turning up on the southern Platypus Bay reefs at times, though only around those reefs holding yakkas and herring. Various trevally species are still in abundance over many of the larger reef systems of the Gutters but they will start to move on soon.
School mackerel are now scattered across much of Hervey Bay. You may find them on the reefs wide of the Burrum and over isolated reef patches out wider towards the Fathom Hole. Small numbers of quality schoolies are on offer just wide of Gatakers Bay - their numbers somewhat depleted from fishing effort in recent weeks. Look for them over any reef system within our local shipping channels, around the isolated beacons, shipwrecks and along any ledge holding a reasonable quantity of baitfish. In essence, find the bait to find the macks, and if unsure as to where to start then tie on a couple of high speed divers and troll from spot to spot till you track them down.
Shallow Reefs Prime For Coral Trout
The aforementioned closures up north to protect coral reef fish is due to the tendency of groupers (trout and cod), lutjanids (reds, scarlets etc) and sweetlips to gather over the dark of the moon to spawn. This makes them an easy target for fishos and the closures have protected these fish from over-exploitation. Interestingly, the same fish south of the closure also gather with the same intent and are eagerly sought after locally.
Troll diving lures over the shallow fringing reefs of Gatakers Bay, Pt Vernon, Round Island or Woody Island and you should find trout quite willing to take your offering. Early starts are a must, with the best of this style of fishing done and dusted by 8am most days. If you wish to persist thereafter, then either anchor up and fish baits of pilchard, herring or hardihead or drift the same reefs hopping plastics.
Speed can be a bite trigger for the coral trout when it comes to trolling and also plastics. Trolling at around 4-6 knots seems most effective for trout (depending on the lure) whilst a slower 2 knot pace will score you more estuary cod. Expect a bit of bycatch with the likes of squire, moses perch, stripies and mackerel getting in on the act at times.
Flats Fishos In Their Element
This time of year, and over tides like those right now will see a few keen flats fishos sneaking about up on the local flats chasing golden and diamond trevally, queenfish, permit and any other shallow-water predator that might venture into the skinny water looking for a feed. The flats south of Moon Point and around the bay islands are popular and proven locations, though the many flats further down the straits can be equally productive.
Avoid the green zones down the straits and look for flats with more dominant entry and exit channels to better pinpoint the likely feeding areas. Look for baitfish hiding up in the shallows and mimic these fodder species as best you can. Fly fishos in particular have the edge when it comes to this fishery, with a stealthy approach and lightly weighted presentation less likely to spook the wary fish cruising the flats.
Do not be surprised to find threadfin salmon, barra, blue salmon and numbers of flathead up on the flats down the straits over the bigger tides. Grunter too can be found anywhere there is a little stirred up water or along the mangrove line over the top of the tide. Obviously whiting are another target species that respond exceptionally well to micro surface lures whipped along at a steady pace.
Big River Predators On The Chew
The big tides will make the upper reaches of our rivers quite challenging but will also see the lower reaches come to life. Threadfin salmon, barra, jew, blue salmon and grunter are the main targets, though flathead, bream and whiting are also likely from the broader waters nearer the river mouths.
The Mary/Susan system will see the better catches of the above species, with threadies in particular worthy of a session or two hopping vibes through the holes and along the river banks. The latter stages of the ebb tide are best in the main system, whereas the higher tides will often see these fish venture up the feeder creeks.
There has been some great barra action of late for those twitching hardbodies around snags and rock bars or working vibes along the nearby banks. Scanning these fish up on the latest sonar technology makes it all just a little too easy at times, though you need to find fish that are active and hunting and not simply hanging out waiting for the tide to trigger their next move.
Night sessions can be crazy on the river and the sounds of barra and threadies feeding can really get the casting arm twitching. Spend some time on the rivers at night and you will soon learn just how mobile these fish can be. Kicking back with a live bait soaking is an obvious option, but the more active fishos might consider surface walkers, fizzers and poppers for a ton more fun.
Increasing water temperatures have stirred the local mangrove jack populations into action. If you can handle the sandflies and mozzies up the creeks over on Fraser then these are your best areas to target jacks at present. Bait fishos will do well with strips of fresh mullet or livies and can expect a bit of bycatch in the form of cod, bream and grunter.
The Burrum system is home to great numbers of jacks and offers a wide variety of terrain in which to seek them out. The sandflies and mozzies aren’t too bad up that way either, but don’t venture out without the Bushmans regardless. Barra will be worth chasing up in the Burrum too, though those switched on to that scene will likely be aware of their tendency to move on the bigger tides and will seek them out downstream amongst the islands and eddied waters around rock bars and snags in the vicinity.
A Little Bit Of Everything And A Whole Lot Of Nothing At The Pier
The new moon could see another run of mackerel at the Urangan Pier this week, though the northerly winds may also keep them at bay. Reports lately suggest there has been a smattering of species but very few in numbers. Golden trevally have come a little too close for their own good at times and the odd school of mack tuna has swum close enough to be tangled with, but the mackerel have been a bit absent during spells of northerly weather.
Flathead have been active along the pier recently, taking a liking to live baits deployed near the pylons. The odd jewfish has taken a livie after dark out the end, and a few barra have met their demise. There has even been a few decent grunter taking baits meant for whiting at the pier and along adjacent beaches after dark.
This new moon should see another good run of summer whiting from the first section of the pier, with the better fish still likely at night. Surprises are many however, with some nights on recent moons being less productive than mornings and visa versa. The local beaches should also produce plenty of plump whiting during the making tide and first of the ebb.
Impoundment Barra Getting Bigger And Badder
Pick a dam, any dam, and it will be a great place to head this weekend. Locally, Lenthalls has been firing with plenty of mid-sized barra in the 60-80cm range on the chew. Suspending hardbodies are doing the most damage out there, but if you love your topwater then few dams offer a better crack at barra on poppers, fizzers and walkers. Access restrictions (gates open at 6am and close at 8pm) mean your topwater opportunities are a little limited but the early evening sessions can be dynamic. Oh, and the bass have also continued to bite, with the dropping water levels making the task of finding them easier by the week.
Lake Monduran has been more popular than ever this season and rightly so with great numbers of barra turning it on when the conditions are right. This weekend looks just about perfect for Mondy, with light northerlies and plenty of sunshine. Suspending hardbodies, paddle-tailed plastics and vibes all have their moments on this lake, as do medium sized swimbaits, poppers and walkers.
The Golden Barra competition will draw even more fishos to Mondy during the impending barra closure. Great prizes are on offer for anyone lucky enough to catch a specially tagged golden barra worth an epic $150K. Last year’s golden barra evaded capture and is still roaming the lake with a big price on its head and a number of other tagged barra are out there with great prizes on offer for their capture. Register online and look for the tags before letting your fish go.
A bit further up the Bruce, Lake Awoonga is the lake holding the big numbers of barra. Like all impoundment barra these fish can be fickle when the weather is not to their liking and recent weeks have seen periods of cooler weather and strong winds that have made the fishing somewhat challenging. Sensational clarity in Awoonga means you need to crank or sink your lures deeper in the water during bankers’ hours, with natural colours dominating during the daytime.
Suspending hardbodies perform exceptionally well in this lake, but big paddle-tailed plastics get a lot more action at times with their slow thumping retrieve. Bring out the big guns tackle-wise if fishing the timber as those 90+ models sure know how to stitch you up in the furniture when they decide to party.
Those using sonar scanners need to be prepared to drive away from fish that won’t eat as many schooled up fish in this, or any barra lake, will feed only sporadically and you need to find the fish that are feeding. When conditions are perfect this means nearly all fish that haven’t been recently stung, but when they decide to have a spell virtually nothing will turn them on. Keep chasing the wind, keep casting and keep trying different spots, but be on the fish when the moon is directly above or setting.
Much-loved by the locals, but rarely visited by others, Lake Callide just out of Biloela is only a 4.5 hour trip from the bay and offers a sensational barra fishery. Callide is home to big numbers of barra for its size and there are stacks of metre+ models in there that appear to be peaking around the 120cm mark at present.
It is a reasonably easy lake to fish if the weather plays the game and by following the wind you will find big numbers of barra in bays and off points throughout the lake. Having no weed present in the lake means you can very easily offer sinking lures without fouling, so vibes and plastics hopped off the bottom are very effective.
A feature of Lake Callide that you will not find anywhere else in this area is that due to its lack of water-borne weed you can fish from its banks. Furthermore, you can drive your vehicle around much of the lake via numerous access tracks. Stacks of barra are caught by locals from wind-blown shores in the early evening on a regular basis.
Callide has been a big producer of red claw in the past, but at the time of writing there appears to be none on the move – perhaps the barra ate them all (?) This weekend will see the running of the local Callide Fishing Competition which is well-patronised by locals and visitors from the district.
Good luck out there y’all.