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Fisho’s Weekly Fishing Report – 10th May, 2024

What a gun crew of tuna slayers. A repeat of this pic in 10 or 20 years time would be very interesting indeed.

Perfect Weather for Mother’s Day

After a couple of weeks of mostly blustery winds and regular showers, it is great to finally look ahead and see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is still windy today; up to 20 knots from the south-east, but this is the tail of a string of windy days that we are all happy to see the end of. This weekend looks great – particularly Mother’s Day.

Saturday will kick off a spell of great weather, with around 10 knots of light easterly. Sunday is spectacular! Light, variable winds below 10 knots and mostly sunny. The perfect day to take mum for a leisurely cruise on our waterways, or maybe just get out of her hair and go fishing while she relaxes in peace. Some weather sites suggest showers are possible over the weekend, so let’s hope they are wrong.

Monday looks just as good as Sunday, and then the wind strength starts to creep up gradually Tuesday. The south-easter is set to return mid-week, with a 20 knot south-easter Wednesday that might ease slightly thereafter. The online weather sites have been changing their forecasts every few hours (as usual), so monitor daily and make your plans based on the latest. At this stage, offshore is on the cards until Tuesday and the bay should be downright glamorous.

The new moon emerged on Wednesday and it will be waxing for the next week or so. Our tides are getting smaller daily, meaning diminishing tidal flow until the start of the ‘makes” around the first quarter next Wednesday. Neap tides such as those coming can be challenging for some species and just the trigger for others. Read on for a few tips on what to expect this week.

Make mum even happier this Mother's Day with something from the spanky new range of Tropical Pink Yetis.

Action Aplenty at the Pier

It was quite obliging of a whole heap of pelagic and estuarine species to make an appearance around the Urangan Pier during the recent bout of bad weather. Frustrated boaties had the option to join the pier regulars both day and night in the hunt for a range of species, either large or small.

Visits by passing schools of mac tuna caused plenty of excitement, particularly when they were observed smashing into the herring packed tightly around the pylons when the tide was low. A free-swimming herring tossed in their path, or a lure spun past at just the right moment were eagerly intercepted and the fight was on. Just how brief that fight might be was dictated by the tackle used. 

Schools of the even more exciting longtail tuna ravaged any baitfish schools that dared leave the shelter of the pier and were either spun-up on lures or tempted by live herring drifted out wider with the aid of a balloon. Golden trevally made an appearance and ate live baits too; be it by design or accident. There were also enough mackerel from day to day to keep the Flasha Spoons spinning and to ensure many regulars opted for gang-hook rigs in lieu of singles for their livies.

Pier-based bream fans have had a dabble to see what the early season run is like. So far, it has been mostly smaller fish, but just enough numbers of legal models to keep the super-keen interested. No sign of the large ‘pilot’ males as yet, with anticipation high for the start of the annual spawning run in weeks to come. Our waters are still relatively warm, though cooling weekly. Cloud cover and onshore weather can be ‘blamed’, but don’t wish the winter chill on us prematurely, as rain and wind aside, it is a very pleasant time of year right now.

You might expect a bit of flathead action along the slope out towards the deep end or in the first channel over the coming neaps. Securing pike will aid you in this endeavour, though live herring will do in a pinch. The appearance of a few blue salmon has been interesting this week. Something a little different for pier-goers, being equally as easy to tempt with the usual Flashas or live baits as any mackerel, and even more inclined to eat a dead bait day or night.

Those willing to risk getting wet after dark have enjoyed a little success on the jewfish front. Jewies are rarely caught from the pier during daylight, but it does happen. Evening sessions focussing on certain stages of the tide offer your best chances of a jew. Either securing live baits or learning to dance large prawn or squid imitation plastics in likely hangouts is the main game, though well-presented dead baits of squid or large banana prawn can work.

Sharks can be a real nuisance at night from the pier. Or, they may be your very target and source of a little fun. Small sharks of various kinds pass through pier waters at times, as do some truly large specimens. If you are a shark-fishing fan, then make the most of the last of our warmer nights, as once the chill of winter sets in, your chances of encounters with noahs from the pier is severely diminished.

Big broadies are eagerly pursued when they front up at the pier. Lukas Taranto caught this one just recently.
You are still a chance of catching large grunter from our local foreshores, and blue salmon too it seems.

Rock Fishing Exploits Highlight Wind-Blown Alternatives

Prevailing trade winds such as those experienced recently, tend to see numbers of fish aggregate along certain sections of local rocky foreshore. Some seeking shelter from the wind, and indeed the baitfish that are seeking the same shelter; others more intent on cruising the wash looking for morsels dislodged in the constant wave action.

Over the past week or so, there has been a number of solid blue salmon taking lures from the rocks fringing Point Vernon. They are determined fighters, blues, but quite clean and therefore easily landed from such terrain if your leader and hooks are up to the task. Terrific fun on light tackle and a real hoot for the youngsters out there just learning the ropes.

At just the right stage of tide, with bait in the area, and good casting tackle, a local rock fisho could well be hooking into some fairly solid giant trevally from the rocks of Point Vernon too. Fish caught recently topped-out around the 5-kilo mark, which certainly aren’t in the class of the summer run of GTs caught elsewhere, but great fish and a fair handful on light-medium spin tackle all the same. 

GTs love chasing down poppers and stickbaits and are just as keen to smash plastics or shallow-diving hardbodies meant for other quarry too. Pick the pace up if you see one chase your lure, and be prepared to fight the fish with your rod held high to keep your line from the coral-encrusted rocks. Should queenies decide to join the fray, then you can relax a bit more and enjoy their aerial antics as they dance all over the paddock.

A couple of plump coral trout have also been landed from the rocks this week. These fish were caught from waters basically too skinny for boaties to venture. Extracting solid trout from such terrain is incredibly challenging, and such captures are more meritorious than a simple happy snap might portray. 

Whiting fishos secured a handy feed over the recent darks, and from the neap tides preceding too. Whiting cruising our local beaches and mudflats are prime targets for tiny topwater offerings at this time of year. Some fishos favour yabbies or worms for the more relaxing approach of course, but is typically those working tiny prawn/yabby imitation topwater lures that get the most action over the neaps.

If you are a bream fan, then you could consider some shore-based scouting forays around our local creeks or rocky foreshores. The winter spawn is yet to kick off, but the bream are certainly on the move and will be moving out of the creeks in favour of the open rocky and gravelly areas week by week. Places such as River Heads and the Urangan Harbour are in the path of migrating bream, just to name a couple of potential hotspots. Just when they fire this season is yet to be seen. 

Soaking a crab pot walked out from our shoreline might be productive over coming weeks. Many have been harvesting the great run of muddies from our local creeks and mudflats, yet it is the chance of a few sandies that might tempt the occasional crabber to sling their pots out from our beaches. The flatter gradient and easier access at low tide in the Urangan strip has been favoured in the past. The next sand crab caught from Urangan Pier during the month of May won’t be the first, or the last.

Renowned local lure-maker, Nashy has just released these finely-crafted sinking stickbaits. The stout profile and smaller size will be a reef flat go-to
Yet another deadly lure for flats fishos. The Fish Craft Dr Flex is a soft bent minnow with a crazy action that will entice many flats predators.
Tri Ton from Fraser Guided Fishing is the guru when it comes to jigging local reefs for goldies. This client had a battle to remember.

Go Find the Tuna this Week

There were opportunities to head up the island chasing tuna this week, but they were limited. Your chance is coming if you are a tuna fan, so get the boat ready for the weekend and it’s all systems go. Hervey Bay is alive with masses of tuna right now. Baitfish are abundant, right through Platypus Bay, the central bay and over in the west, and the tuna are in hot pursuit.

We don’t need to tell you what to do – you should all know by now. Mix it up to keep things interesting and see how many different lures you can use to tempt a tuna on a given day. Count on 5-inch jerkshads and metal slugs to take their toll, as usual, but see what else you can get them to eat. So many plastics from prawn imitations to minnow profiles will work, so long as they swim straight with added speed. Soft vibes will also tempt tuna but are hard work compared to alternatives.

It is most definitely time to bust out the stickbaits and seek larger longtails feeding in smaller pods. Dancing many various stickies across or just below the surface is an addictive form of fishing for many folks, all eager to witness that explosive strike time and time again. Avoiding the dreaded noahs arks is of course mandatory when stick baiting unless you have unlimited funds. Have several rods rigged and at the ready, so you can react to the latest scenario, be it concerns over the presence of sharks, or the appearance of interesting alternative targets on your sounder screen.

Sinking lures deeper into the water column beneath feeding tuna can often result in some surprising hook-ups. It might just be larger versions of the same tuna busting up on the surface, whilst it could be a golden trevally, a queenfish, or a mackerel that takes the next swipe at your lure. Later in the season, you might even be lucky enough to connect to a migrating knobby snapper picking up the scraps as tuna feed overhead.

Lack of effort constricts our observations this week, yet we can say that there were plenty of longtails and mac tuna in Platypus Bay a few days ago. The west coast has been too blown out mostly, but is likely to produce for those that head that way. Acres of ‘tuna bait’ - that fine echo return of tiny baitfish that seemingly fill the water column but are too small to catch on jigs – are abundant over in the west and up the centre of the bay (or at least they were before this recent blow). Less tuna reported from the straits last week suggests the bay is the go, but that could change.

Can you imagine how happy young Rico was catching a tuna such as this. Ripper tuna young fella.
Jaydee handled this longtail with ease, and was keen for another and another ....
Kade has no trouble catching fish such as this fine longtail. Tuna are such a blast for the kids.
The mac tuna are getting bigger. Peter Rutten with a solid specimen.

Hang Inshore for an Easy Feed

The wind has kept boaties from many inshore reef sites this week (and the week before). This can only mean more fish for your next visit, right? There is only one way to find out. Try the fringes of the deeper inshore reefs for a feed of sweetlip, then have a go for a coral trout when the tide is slack. You are more than likely going to hook a couple of estuary cod whilst trying to catch that trout, unless your chosen spot is totally flogged out.

Better tides for catching snapper might be in the rear vision mirror right now, but better tides will return. Not that you can’t catch them over the neaps; just that it is less likely. Try deep trolling during these neaps if you wish. If you cannot snare a snapper, then you are bound to catch a cod or some other form of bycatch.

Fishing the shallow reefs would be best considered a dawn, dusk or evening affair over the neaps. Better to head deeper. If you persist, then a feed might be forthcoming, and even more likely if you make the effort to berley. You will have to put up with some unwanted attention in your berley trail, but with any luck, the rewards will outweigh the pitfalls.

Reports of winter whiting from off Gatakers Bay have been limited. The numbers may not be there yet, but apparently the size is quite acceptable. There was talk of couples getting their 40-50 whiting without too much trouble, but bagging out was achieved by a mere few. Perhaps those getting the better numbers were using baits too hard to resist, or maybe they were tuned in to the Whiting Slayers we sell expressly to catch winteries. See the pic hereabouts and give them a try if you haven’t already discovered their advantage.

These bait jigs are possibly the best rig you could use to catch your winter whiting. They cannot be used in yellow zones if baited though.
Don't head out onto the bay or down the straits without larger squid jigs this time of year.
A large cobia for a Hot Reels Fishing Charter client.

Stained Waters of the Straits Offer Much Variety

Flats fishos have opportunities to chase large estuarine predators and pelagics alike down the straits at present. Diminishing tides heading for the neaps won’t excite everyone, yet recent results suggest there are ample fish on offer in water just clear enough to see the odd target and just stained enough to keep them from being too wary.

We speak of large blue salmon and queenfish in particular, but also other ghosts of the flats such as grunter and golden trevally. Solid flatties can also be encountered, particularly near creek mouths hosting aggregations of baitfish. Even more flatties can be found by venturing into the smaller creeks, and spending time hopping lures out of drains that might be ejecting prawns with the ebb tide.

Barramundi fans (and who isn’t these days) can get sneaky on some of the flats down the straits, and can actually sight-fish to larger individuals if they get super-lucky. The maze of creeks and interconnecting waterways offer even more chances yet again, and are the focal point of many fishos avoiding the dirty waters in our major rivers. Those same creeks offer you a crack at large threadies in some cases, and along Fraser’s western shores, mangrove jacks too. 

The sting might have been removed from the tail of the jack season due to this inclement weather of late, but the fish are still there and quite willing to feed-up prior to their impending winter ‘hibernation’. Chase big jacks now! Chase average-sized ones if you like and see how you go when a donkey comes along, but now is the time to gear-up and go bigger in the jack hunting stakes. Catch those larger fish threatening or bettering the 60cm mark as they depart or prepare to depart our estuaries in favour of a life on our reefs out wide.

The dirty waters of the Mary and Susan rivers still don’t appeal to many fishos. There hasn’t been any local run-off from the showers and light rain of late, but the constant flow over moist ground in the hinterland is maintaining a freshwater flow in the upper reaches that could maintain the status quo for quite a while yet. There are ample barra and threadies to be pursued though, you just have to modify your approach.

Head upstream and go snag-bashing or focus on rock bars and it might be the rats that you find initially. Shift focus to the flats and stretches of water where the prawns run and it could be a different story. Particularly large barra are often encountered in skinny water when the tide is up as they cruise those shallows knocking off their prey. Similarly so, those same XOS barra must traverse open river waters to get to and fro and can be tracked by fishos sporting livescope technology these days.

If that isn’t you, then the simple art of flicking lures to active threadies feasting on prawns flushed from the drains might appeal. This pastime is more productive after the tides make for a few days and the drain-off is more dramatic, but pick the right drains over the neaps and it is still worth a shot. This form of fishing can be very visual, yet potentially very frustrating if the threadies are fixated on jelly prawn and you are lacking the right offerings.

Go bream fishing if you would rather. Keep an ear out for numbers turning up at river heads. That rocky peninsula and the rocky shores of South Head are highly productive bream grounds that are enroute to the spawning grounds for many bream schools. In the meantime, try rocky or gravelly terrain further upstream, but stick to the lower reaches. As these bream vacate the creeks and rivers and gather to spawn it is a true bonanza for bream fans, so get ready, they are on their way.

Staff member, Jacko, with a thumper flatty that went 82cm, caught on a pimped-up Rapala Crush City Imposter.
Tony Midson was happy catching school longtails recently. Better weather this week will see many folks out there chasing them again.

A Few Hazards Worth Avoiding

Cast netting for prawns is a wonderful pastime and very rewarding this time of year. It can have its hazards though, and few are worse than the one that one of our regulars experienced a couple of weeks ago. Garry was chasing bananas in a local creek when he got his cast net snagged. Reaching down underwater to release it from the rocks, he unfortunately came into contact with a stonefish. Needless to say, the pain was most excruciating and first aid was sought immediately.

Piping hot water is the only remedy for the sting of a stonefish, and not much of a relief at that. The hotter the water, the more relief the victim feels, so severe burning can occur in one’s attempt to relieve the pain. Indeed, the lack of burning sensation, voided by the intense pain of the sting, can see the wound treated with water so hot that the longer-lasting issue thereafter can actually be the burn.

We have a surprising number of stonefish in our waters. They are prone to hold station amongst or alongside rocks, over gravely terrain and reef, and occasionally near man-made structures such as pylons. There have been large models caught from the Urangan Pier and also within Urangan Harbour. They must not be handled. Being cautious when wading over the abovementioned terrain is suggested, particularly in our estuaries and when the water is discoloured. 

There are also other ugly little nightmares such as ghouls (false stonefish) to avoid in similar country. Cast-netters take on the highest risk, yet should never be alarmed as such. Monitor what bycatch is contained within your net and always be extra cautious with kids handling the contents. It might be a happy moment or a scat that stings you or them, or maybe even a stingray, a cattie or a flattie. Neither are pleasant and all demand respect when being removed from a net.

Garry reached down to unsnag his cast net in Eli Creek and was spiked by a stonefish. Hot water is the only treatment, so burnt skin is a side effect.

One other major hazard worth avoiding and I believe worth mentioning in this report, is the recent sighting of a crocodile in the Burrum River. Two neighbouring landowners witnessed what is likely the same croc on different days recently, up near Guernsey Island in the river. The croc was said to be better than 2.5 metres long, but less than 3 metres. One of those that saw the croc has many years of experience in the far north, yet felt concerned about raising the alarm as he though folks would think he was telling porkies. Rest assured, he won’t be letting his dog or his grandkids venture into those waters any time soon.

Take it from someone who has personally witnessed two crocodiles in local waters over many years – one in the Burrum and one in the Mary - their presence is thankfully incredibly limited in these parts, but we are not devoid of all crocs altogether. There are warning signs at our ramps for good reason. Take extra care in and around the dirty waters of our rivers and nearby flats. 

Anyone else who has mentioned past encounters has agreed that the crocs are very shy and nearly impossible to track once spooked. Strangely-enough, we have all been too slow to get a happy snap of the culprits, but maybe that will change with the proliferation of you-tubers and film-makers on our waters these days. In any case, be aware of the latest sighting, and if you are the next to see a croc in our waters, then immediately inform Qld Parks & Wildlife Service.

Another issue worth raising, whilst not necessarily a hazard, is the apparent disregard of the rules when it comes to fishing within our local man-made lakes and canal systems. Many have discovered these waterways and the often-impressive fish that they contain over the years, but it is the frequency of inappropriate waterway use lately that is raising concerns.

You are permitted to fish around many of these waters, so long as you are not encroaching on private land or annoying the local landowners. You are NOT allowed to use any form of watercraft on ANY of the lakes however. No boats, no kayaks, no canoes, no stand-up paddle boards, no bathtubs. If authorities have to continually react to those doing the wrong thing, then those doing the right thing may lose access to these waters too. Play by the rules folks!

Beware of a croc sighted in the Burrum recently. It wasn't this one, but if you see this one, be extra wary.

Crustaceans Feature in the Family Feast

All of the above aside, there is some great crabbing and very good prawning on offer in our rivers at present. The run of muddies simply has to slow sometime soon, but to date, it has been a bumper season. The sand crab fishery out in the bay took a backseat to mud crabbing briefly due to weather constraints, but many will be eyeing off the better days ahead and getting their pots ready for another assault. Reports of bag limit hauls of sandies from up Arch Cliffs way that took mere hours to achieve are impressive; the magic depth being 14 metres for one crew.

Those favouring a sand crabbing session in the western bay will like the look of the weather Sunday onwards. The grounds off the Burrum coast and wide of the Woodgate green zone are worth a soak, as are shallower waters closer to Toogoom and Gatakers Bay. The numbers may not always be as good in close, but so far, the quality (size) has been very good pretty much everywhere.

Woodgate may see another emergence of banana prawn over the few days of gentle offshore breeze coming this week. You don’t get much better prawning than Woodgate when it fires, and rarely are the bananas as appealing to look at. Glossy open water prawn just looks so colourful, shiny and tasty; their visual appeal only diminishing somewhat after their demise on ice. 

River prawners are doing okay right now and will do even better in coming weeks. The run of smaller medium-sized prawn in the Burrum system is quite accessible, and in some stretches of river there are larger prawns in decent numbers now too. The Mary and Susan will give up a good feed with enough effort; mostly from the lower reaches. Our local creeks continue to feed a few families, and the creeks of the straits and the western side of Fraser are due to come online soon.

Leon has been feasting on some of Qld's finest of late. The muddies are still on the march, but for how long.
John Cassar headed to the Cook Islands for his 60th and celebrated with 3 amazing 70kg yellowfin in one morning.


Great Sandy Marine Park Rezoning Imminent

The much-vaunted review of our Great Sandy Marine Park is complete, and a host of new regulations will come into effect as of the 21st of this month. There are many changes that will impact just about all of us in one form or another. You can familiarise yourself with the new regulations via the appropriate government website. Click on the linkhttps://www.qld.gov.au/environment/coasts-waterways/marine-parks/zoning/great-sandy-marine-park or scan the QR Code presented here with.

New green zones will deny access to local waters that have been the happy hunting grounds of many local and visiting fishos for eons. These grounds can never be fished again, so you might want to have a last crack for old times sake before the 21st. There are many components of the new regime to look forward to, and no doubt plenty that will raise the ire of some of us. We will all just have to trust that the trade-offs for our losses will be compensated by gains in other ways. All will be revealed as you investigate.

Our state government is also reviewing a range of recreational fishing regulations at the moment too, and are offering the public their chance to comment on the proposed changes. Issues being considered include changes to bag limits on large and small mouthed nannygai (scarlets), crab pot apparatus, potential banning of opera house pots, black jewfish regs and more. Google the DAF website and find your way to the Discussion Paper and have your say if you are so inclined.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

Time to become familiar with the many changes to our Great Sandy Marine Park. Scan the QR Code or look it up online for all the new regs - there are many
There will be oodles of longtails such as this to catch out in the bay this week.
Just in time for Mother's Day.
More fine gift options for mum.
The new tropical pink range of Yeti will appeal to many mums (and many daughters too).

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