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Fisho’s Weekly Fishing Report – 12th January, 2024

Doing the miles on the highway instead of the bay paid off big time for Clayton Beer and his mate. Nice reds lads.


Monsoon Up North – Trade Winds Down Here


The weather over the past few days has been terrific. Sure, it’s been warm and muggy, and the odd passing shower was annoying, but the light winds and good run in the tide out-weighed the negatives. The monsoon is developing up north, somewhat belatedly, so we can expect an increase in onshore trade winds for the immediate future.

The humidity will be much more bearable thanks to the cooling effect of the south-easterly breeze. However, boaties will be a little frustrated if it maintains the forecast intensity all week. At the moment, it looks like today’s 20 knot south-eastermight continue unabated for the duration of the weekend. 15-20 knots is theofficial call. Early risers may benefit from lighter winds inshore early, but no-one in a trailer boat will be heading out too far (not Saturday anyway). Keep an eye on Sunday though, as a window may open for a few hours to enable you to get out on the bay, albeit briefly.

The working week looks like being quite breezy. The south-east trade wind will likely crank up beyond 20 knots some days, potentially bringing a stream of showers onshore. Quite a typical summer scenario really, and one that very often kicks in well before this. We’ve had all the heat and dominating northerlies (more than usual), and now the monsoon to our north combines with highs in the bight to trigger onshore trades that cool our waters just enough to keep us “safe” from southbound cyclones. Our waters are a solid 28-29C right now, and warmer in the creeks. A cyclone needs 27C+ to “stay alive”, so don’t wish away the cooling breeze too quickly.

Yesterday’s new moon completed yet another cycle and the moon begins waxing now as the tidal flow diminishes daily. The tides are still quite big, and will remain so throughout the weekend. Highs bettering the 4m mark from lows below 0.5m really get the tide moving, which just might suit some folks planning to fish our sheltered inshore waters.

Tom hauled this solid Iron Jaw up from the depths recently. Just one of many jobfish species you can find out there.

Jason Lund scored a solid red emperor in glassed-out conditions. Gotta love that.

Reef fish don't come much prettier than the coronation trout. Zac Sadler was very happy with this one.

It Will be Lonely Out in Open Waters this Week

It is probably a good thing that so many crews smashed the reefies and scored such a good feed last week, as no-one is really going to get a crack at them for a while. Some might chance a quick trip semi-wide Sunday if the window opens, but very few would consider that option viable. Staying inshore, tallying up some brownie points, or maybe slipping the boat in for a local bay trip is more on the cards.

Going on reports from the past week or so, the offshore scene was both productive and frustrating, depending upon which day you went and where. Those that ventured north and departed from ports north of Bundy did exceptionally well. Some scored well offshore either end of Fraser too, but not everyone. The sharks are too hard to beat over vast stretches of the shoal country east of Breaksea Spit at present, so resorting to the deep drop gear and heading wider was the smart call in the esky-filling stakes.

A week of trade wind might take a little sting out of the south-bound EAC, but strong current flow is still a factor this time of year. The larger multi-day charter boats that plied the rich grounds north of Fraser years ago used to take a spell this time of year; partly due to the incessant trade winds that could blow for weeks on end, but also due to the stiff current over manageable depths of water. Electric-driven deep dropping gear was lacking back in the good old days, so today’s offshore fisho has somewhat of an edge. 

Jacko joined the bosses for a day offshore last week. He was the star over the shoal country, but the sharks made them retreat to the depths beyond the shelf

Jacko with a plump red throat from the 50-metre shoal country. Prime fish, but magnets for sharks too unfortunately.

Solid pearlies are regular captures along and over the shelf. The sharks are bad in 100 metres, but Dane snuck this one in before they wised up.

Flamies and squire were thick in 200 metres or so last week. Here's staffer Scotty with a brace on the deep drop gear.

Dane was extra-stoked with this solid ruby on the deep drop gear. It's a who's who of the jobfish clans out over our continental shelf.


Using Fraser as a Buffer Against the Wind


Some days will be just too windy and wet this week, but others may be tempting. High speed boats capable of making quick time up the island can tear up that way looking to mix it with the tuna and spotted mackerel when the wind eases somewhat. It can be a rough trip over to the island though, and your band of comfortable water will get narrower the further north you travel. Remember that it can be a real chore trying to chase after surface-feeding fish in 20 knots of breeze, even in sheltered waters.

If you are indeed keen enough, then latest reports suggest you will need to travel north of Arch Cliffs to find the best schools of spotties. Being inclined to feed into the wind, they may well push closer back inshore and re-appear off Coongul Point, where they have been found so frequently until last weekend. Considering how much more challenging it is to find surface-feeding fish in rainy conditions, picking a break in both the showers and the wind would be advisable.

Tuna schools have been highly mobile and flighty, but also well scattered across the bay. Their movements during a prolonged spell of south-east trade wind should be somewhat eastwards, making Platypus Bay most appealing once again. The diminishing tidal flow is unlikely to see a vast migration close inshore, though that scenario can do an about-face when the tides start to make again.

In the meantime, if you are up to it, then perhaps you can get your sports fishing fix by mixing it with the big inshore pelagics that are terrorising the small fish and squid in close. Think GTs, big queenies and even bigger spaniards. There are waters protected from the prevailing breeze that are hosting these beasties right now, and the tides are well and truly big enough. 

Interestingly, a local father and son team were recounting the story of their day out up the island last week, when they mentioned spotting some big pelagic fish cruising in the shallows. As they approached these fish, just off the coffee rock beneath Arch Cliffs, they realised the fish were indeed small black marlin. A handful of little blacks was milling around in bugger all water totally blasé to their onlookers, and in no way keen to look at any lure they threw at them. 

The lads’ exciting session sight-fishing to the little blacks came to a premature and all-too-abrupt end when someone else came along and proceeded to drive straight into the fish and scatter them. An opportunity lost perhaps, but an exciting moment for father and son nonetheless. Such an encounter should be duly noted, as we are still technically within our inshore baby black marlin season for these parts – regardless of how poor this season has been.

Young Quinn was chuffed with his best spotty mackerel to date. Spotties are great fun for the kids and in abundance right now.

It was an arm-stretching of the cobia-kind for Tim recently. They are more abundant offshore than inshore, but strays are possible anywhere.

It was coral trout for dinner for Dylan Cawley and his family. Well done young fella.

Matt Cawley contributed to the coral trout banquet as well. Happy days and full bellies.

There are some solid sweeties on offer inshore at present, and even bigger ones out wider.


Sheltering from the Trade Winds Inshore

Gatakers Bay boat ramp will be somewhat hectic this weekend. It offers the best launching point for the smallest of vessels, or for the family fisho that doesn’t want to expose his/her family to the elements. You may not avoid the rains, but the close fringing reefs offer a chance of a feed out of the wind on barely a cup of fuel.

Coral trout are the number one target for many, as can be seen when you witness the number of boats trolling back and forth. The early bird will get that worm, though there is still the chance of a trout on trolled lures throughout the day. A little bycatch in the form of various perch species, estuary cod and mackerel can keep things interesting, particularly if the kids are holding the rods as you troll.

A feed of grassy sweetlip is quite possible for those that anchor and deploy baits behind the boat on the bottom. Minimising sinker sizes to suit the shallow waters will help lessen the snag-ups, as will casting down-current instead of sideways. You could try a little berley, but the prevalence of so many sharks recently suggests otherwise.

In fact, if you have bigger kids full of pent-up energy, then take them to Point Vernon via Gatakers Bay and rig them to catch the very sharks everyone else is trying so hard to avoid. You don’t need massive tackle to fight and subdue the average sharks that are so prolific there right now (but you will for the bigger beasts of course). You can catch and keep only one shark each by the way, and it must be no longer than 1.5m. Hence the issues we have these days with an over-abundance of mega sharks!

Grunter are worth pursuing along the same fringes of the reef where you would expect to find your sweetlip. Large prawn baits, fresh squid, herring or hardy heads will all temp a hungry grunter, but so too will a range of soft plastics. An evening session could be quite fruitful, yet most won’t risk it with frequent showers on the radar.

Pelagic activity in those sheltered waters is somewhat sporadic, and very much dependant on baitfish movements. When the baitfish seek shelter from the win and waves, the pelagics follow. There were spotted mackerel caught just off there last week, and schoolies and queenfish haven’t been far to the north either. Ensure you have some metal slugs, spoons, and perhaps a few topwater lures on hand just in case.

Our other shallow reefs that surround the bay islands and elsewhere have been under immense pressure lately, so a period of windy weather will do those grounds the world of good. Some terrific hauls of quality sweetlip, some big blackall and a few coral trout and cod have been extracted recently. Once again, shark depredation has been very frustrating, particularly given that these shallow reefs were largely shark-free until last year. More sign that the sharks are over-running our waters, and in many cases, taking vastly more fish than we do.

It is devastating to see that the sharks have moved into the shallows. That one is undersized Luke, so we trust you threw it back.

Ben picked up a handy feed of sweetlip and coral trout from inshore.

Big blackall have been regular captures this summer. Here is Darrin with a 74cm model that went 10lb.

Pete with a typical estuary cod from inshore waters. They are hyperactive this time of year.


Big Critters Lurking in Deeper Inshore Waters


Larger vessels “stranded” inshore can make the most of the reef fishing opportunities in the local shipping channels. Wind-against-tide periods will be annoying and uncomfortable, but at other times fishable in up to 20 knots in the right boat. Anchoring will be necessary, as spot-locking devices will struggle in the wind. This can mean ringing the dinner bell to the sharks, so don’t get complacent and keep shifting if they find you.

The run of pencil squid continues, and with that the sweeties, blackall, cod and scarlets are on the chew. There is the chance of a coral trout from deeper inshore waters too, and maybe even the odd squire or a freak snapper. Fraser’s close western ledges will offer the best conditions for anyone keen to take on the wind and showers at anchor.

The threat of contact with the bay’s big summertime giant trevally has been mentioned in recent reports, and you can take it for granted that they are out there. The shipwrecks of the Roy Rufus and the concrete structures of the Hardy and Simpson are playing host to packs of these brutal fish-stealing thugs right now. If you want to mix it with them, then go ahead – drop a live bait to mid-water or deeper and see if you can extract them. An average GT is probably a 25kg fish, but there are vastly bigger monsters just waiting for you to dare.

The wind isn’t real kind at present, but if the opportunity arises whilst the tides are still roaring, you can try your hand at popping or stick baiting for GTs around the current lines spinning off the bay islands. Deploy the same tactics over along Fraser anywhere there is a deep ledge, strong current, and plenty of “life”, or give the beacons a cast or two as you drift past. 

Some folks will get “lucky” and hook a mega spaniard or two inshore this month. It is that time of year when the biggest of the big turn up around the very same shipwrecks as the GTs (and elsewhere). Spaniards to 30kg have been caught plenty of times in the past, but shark depredation these days rarely sees them landed.

When the weather improves, the mackerel fans will be out and about looking for schoolies once again. Word this week was that the Fairway and the Burrum 8 Mile produced a feed. Sharks took their toll (of course), and a big old groper or cod was making those that were too slow pay a tax at the 8 Mile.

You might find the odd horse spanish mackerel in our inshore waters this time of year. Steve gave the spin gear a workout on this model.

There were plenty of reds caught last week. Most came from up north, and there were solid ones in the mix.

The grounds off Southern Fraser Island and the Wide Bay Bar offer some of the best red emperor fishing on our coast.


This Hervey Bay goldie got a cuddle from nearly the whole family. Happy days and memories to cherish.

A Subtle Taste of Fresh in the Mary

The big tides right now will make the Mary run dirty brown at the best of times, but adding to the present colour is the run-off from recent rains in the river’s headwaters. It took a while for the water to make its way down from Gympie, joined along the way by minor outflows from smaller creek systems. There is no actual flooding, just a very minor rise and plenty of dirty water heading downstream. Having said this though, you will notice a little extra oomph in the ebb tide at present.

This is great news in so many ways. Crabbers will be most excited, if they aren’t already satiated from the fat muddies they have been munching on recently. Crabs flushed out of the creeks and gullies are now at large in the main flow of the river, and they typically pot quite well as they migrate. There may be some crabs that swim beyond the confines of the river, but many will hold station and feed ravenously in the nutrient-rich semi-brackish waters. There will be a comfortable salinity level that they will seek, yet such waters will not be static. It is a bountiful time for mud crabbers!

Many fish are on the move too. As intimated last week, the threadies have already been mobile, and many are now feeding along the verges in the lower reaches as well as beyond the river proper. That stain in the water that might look so unappealing to a sightseer is a bonus to a thready fisho. The grunter have also moved well downstream, and good numbers can be found in the lower reaches.  More freshwater will see them exit the river en-masse, but for now, you can seek them within or outside of the river.

Jewies are making the most of the dirty water and are feeding around the river mouth. They can be lazy buggers, so timing your assaults on the jewies when the tide is slack is advisable. Don’t go silly though, and only keep one if you need it. Excessive catches from past events quickly impacted the local populations, and denied what might have been a longer-lasting fishery if some folks limited their efforts to catching just a feed, or considered catch and release.

We haven’t had any specific reports from the Burrum system, but would hazard a guess and say that the mangrove jacks have still been on the chew. A bit of colour in the water does wonders this time of year and aggregates mobile schools of fish that are migrating downstream. Intercept them with baits or lures and you can potentially enjoy champagne jack fishing this time of year. Grunter should be on the chew and on the move downstream. Burrum Heads itself might even see a few as they swim by.

Fraser’s western creek jack populations have certainly been active. Some of the better fish have been handing out a licking too, just as well as the sand flies have. These spring tides will flood those creeks a little too hard for most regulars, so waiting for less flow and better winds to get over there is worth considering. So much cloud cover recently has made for an all-day-long jack fishery for those keen to keep at it. An opportunity that will soon be lost if the real rains of our impending wet season arrive.

Erica caught this magnificent queenfish out from River Heads.

Brodie caught this thumping big flathead this week. Recent rains have them turning up all over the place.

You can catch a few grunter as they move down our rivers, as Carl did last week.


Packs of Sharks at Urangan Pier


The GTs have made their way back to Urangan Pier waters, but they are not alone. Tagging along this time are packs of whaler sharks, all intent on eating every live bait lowered for a GT. Quite heavy tackle and sunset drag settings are often required to beat and extract a pier GT from between its pylons. Tangling with 4-7 foot of angry whaler on the same gear can be quite jolting, and bound to throw more than a little spray.

Avoiding the deeper waters out the end is one way of avoiding the sharks (for the most part), and live baiting the bottom for a sneaky flathead or two paid dividends over the past week. The tides just got a little too big for the best of that caper, but the neaps will return in a week. 

In the meantime, entertaining the kids has been just a matter of wandering out a little from the beach end of the pier and deploying floats trailing small hooks and pieces of worm or yabby. Garfish have been in good numbers, and good size too. This scene won’t last forever, so enjoy it while you can. Try the nearby rock groynes if the garfish don’t return one day, or venture down to south beach below the harbour.

Evening sessions chasing pencil squid have been incredibly popular. The deep end of the pier has been crowded virtually every night (when the weather has been decent anyway). Again, this squid run won’t last forever, but for now it continues to provide a swag of fun for many families. These spring tides will make squidding that bit harder, so maintain your sanity and take the kids when the tides ease. Check the radar before venturing out and hope the evening breeze abates as it should.

There are good opportunities at present for anyone keen to try their hand at grunter fishing from our beaches or rocky shores. The spring tides have them on the move and feeding, and a bit of colour flushing from our creeks and rivers adds to this cause. Go soak a prawn bait or bunch of yabbies during the evening, or better still, learn how to track them down with small plastics and a light spin rod in hand. Good fun and a mighty fine feed in the making.

So many sharks at the pier and so many at Pt Vernon suggest our town beaches in between should be interesting too. An alarmist would be on watch constantly with so many kids in the water, and there is nothing wrong with a little extra care and attention right now. For those keen to do so, you could arm your bigger kids with a decent rod and reel and pit them against a passing noah’s ark from the sand. Doing so during the evening is the go, as this is when the noahs will actively hunt along the beach. Do not berley! These are not huge sharks you are targeting, and you only want to catch passers-by, not draw others to the beach.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

How's this for a solid 'dart' from the surf. Fraser's snud-nosed dart (permit) grow big and are without par in the pulling stakes from the island's beaches.

Reegan spent a day in the fresh and scored this nice bass on fly.

Double Island Point Fishing Charters managed to put clients onto some nice reds recently.

Ollie Pearce with a Gold Spot Wrasse he caught whilst out fishing with his dad on Double Island Point Fishing Charters.


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