North Wind Brings the Heat
Stiff south-easterlies hampered boaties last weekend, but better conditions mid-week saw plenty on the water. This week it will be a complete turnaround. Light to moderate northerly winds will dominate throughout the weekend, with a south-easterly change arriving early in the working week.
Today’s northerly will build in intensity before dropping out altogether overnight. Saturday morning looks great, with very light breezes initially, followed by a north-easterly sea breeze in the afternoon. Expect up to 10 knots of north-westerly Sunday morning, increasing gradually and tending more north-north-easterly during the afternoon. The weekend will be pretty much sunny, dry and quite warm.
More of the same Monday morning before the north wind really cranks it up that evening. This will be the precursor to a brisk south-easterly change Tuesday morning that will see wind strengths peaking somewhere around 25 knots or so. An easing trend will then commence from mid-week onwards, leading to good conditions again for the following weekend (potentially).
This Sunday’s new moon means there will be plenty of run in the tide for the next few days. Not massive, but enough to trigger the appropriate response from many piscatorial species. Many fishos will opt to fish our inshore waters for a range of reefies or sneak up the island chasing marlin, whilst others will pursue the heat-seeking species of our estuaries and impoundments instead. Here’s a few things to consider, and a few observations from the past week.
Aaron caught this fine queenfish recently. They are a great target species over the bigger tides this weekend.
Coral Reef Fin Fish Closure
The first of Qld’s Coral Reef Fin Fish Closures kicked in yesterday 12th October and concludes at midnight on Monday the 16th October. This closure effects all tidal waters north of latitude 24 ͦ50’, which is basically a line drawn from a point just south of Bargara on the mainland through a point just north of Station Hill on Fraser Island and further eastward from there.
Stay south of that line, and you can catch coral reef fin fish species. Travel north of that line, and not only can you not target those species or keep them, but you better not have any such species onboard at all. If you catch coral reef fin fish south of the line, and travel north of the line, then expect a fine. All our fishing regulations revolve around possession limits etc, and possessing such fish in the closed waters during the above closure period is prohibited.
Of course, you can still head north and target any other species not contained within the Qld Coral Reef Fin Fish Plan (eg; snapper, pearl perch, grass sweetlip, all pelagics or estuarine species). But you must not target or keep any coral trout, cods or groupers, tusk fishes, parrotfishes, sweetlips (other than grassies), emperors, jobfishes, tropical snappers, sea perches or wrasses. Refer to fisheries paraphernalia, their website or phone app if confused or unsure.
This closure was implemented many years ago to protect spawning reef fish over the new moon periods in spring. As I have questioned in the past - is there some sound reason that this closure only effects waters north of the above latitude, when the very same species south of that latitude also spawn at the same times?
Why are our fish, and those to our south, not afforded the same protection measures as fish to our north? Particularly given the vastly higher pressure on our fish stocks due to increased human population in the south-east of the state. Seems like an oversight to me. But hey, what would I know, I am not a scientist or a government expert.
Anyhow, you can legally target coral reef species during this closure by sticking to the southern bay or heading south. They will bite really well too, as they are quite hangry when in spawn-mode. Perhaps you might give a little consideration to the future of these species though, and limit your efforts for a couple of days. Spearos in particular should think twice about pillaging spawning aggregations of key reef species.
Keep in mind, that the second of these Coral Reef Fin Fish Closures falls over the new moon in November, from the 10th to the 14th inclusive.
This spangled emperor had a few close calls eh Narelle. At least you landed the whole fish and not just a part thereof.
Brandon has been enjoying a few meals of coral trout of late. This one isn't a bar-cheek like the local variety, which will bite well in the shallows this week.
Marlin Season Hit and Miss So Far
The weather has been quite restrictive of late, yet quite a few crews have made their way up the island looking for Hervey Bay’s little black marlin. Larger vessels have ventured well offshore as well, looking for the larger billfish on heavy tackle.
More have been unsuccessful than visa versa here in the bay so far. A run of fish brought in by the super moon a fortnight ago have reacted to less-than-ideal water quality and either scattered or swum north temporarily. Experienced locals fished the waters of central Platypus Bay mid-week for donuts. Some may have succeeded and haven’t shared their tales on the grapevine, yet observations from crews suggesting poor water quality, a lack of baitfish and billfish are notable.
It only takes a wind change to turn such fortunes around, and many will be hoping that the dominant north wind in coming days will draw in more fish on the last of the making tides of the new moon. Should you make your way north into the bay seeking marlin this weekend, then be prepared to roam wide looking for improved water quality and the baitfish that the marlin seek.
Indeed, observations shared above are of the central Platypus Bay region alone. Heading further north, to or beyond Rooneys Point might by all that is needed to find the marlin. Open waters to the west of the bar, north of Fraser, are worth investigating when waters further south are unappealing.
Offshore, it has been a mixture of light tackle forays chasing sailfish and baby blacks east of the 13 Mile crossing or back towards Sandy Cape; along with heavy tackle sessions out wider. Blue marlin are the key target species for the heavy tackle crews over the shelf this early in the season. There have been fish caught out wide already and there should be many more to come.
A tightening of the burgeoning funnel of the EAC towards the Fraser Island offshore grounds is notable. Check out the latest SST charts from BOM and you will see what I mean. Monitor these charts and it will help you to pinpoint likely billfish grounds as the EAC picks up pace in the near future.
A complete teaser set up and some small skirts rigged on our custom semi-rigid rigs and away you go. Marlin time is now.
Spooling reels is all part of the service at Fishos. Buy the reel or the line and it costs you nothing.
Keep an eye out for marlin around any surface feeding fish in the northern bay, even mack tuna such as these.
Southern Bay Offers a Feed of Reefies and Mackerel
The northerly breeze will put most boaties off hitting the bay for the next few days. Saturday morning looks quite good, and the winds will be light, (albeit blowing above a residual northerly swell from the winds this evening). All the same, the shallow reefs will be popular amongst trollers and bait fishos alike.
Coral trout will be the primary target for many; other reefies for others. As stated above, a little restraint and reduction of impact on spawning species would go a long way to improving or at least easing the decline of these fish species in our waters. Switch your focus to mackerel or snapper, or perhaps see if the first of the new season’s grassies have turned up yet.
Snapper are still lingering in the southern bay. There have been quality knobbies caught from many of the usual local hotspots. Our artificial reefs are giving up quality specimens, as are other grounds, so long as there is sufficient baitfish present to keep the snapper interested. Sadly, the sharks are once again taking a toll, but they are not overwhelming just yet, so you can still expect to land a few fish if you keep on the move.
The new moon tides offer some of the best opportunities to tangle with old man snapper, both in close and out wider in the bay. Grunter would be a chance in some areas as well, and mackerel are bound to make their presence felt if there is any herring in the area.
Schoolies are abundant in parts of the bay this time of year. Great fun fish for the family, as Tri from Fraser Guided Fishing's clients found out.
A Surge in Whiting Catches
Lack lustre results for some local whiting fishos during prime times over the past month or so were out-of-the-norm. Not everyone missed out, but many that confidently go about their thing in the same places at the same time each year, did. Encouragingly, there has been a resurgence in whiting catches in recent days and things look good for this weekend.
Some of the better catches have come from Fraser Island’s western flats and creek systems. Weed is an issue at present at locations such as Coongul Creek, so be prepared for a plan B if you arrive in your chosen spot and are greeted by unfishable weedy water. There is no weed in the lower reaches of the Mary or Susan Rivers, and waters to the east thereof should be weed free too.
You can try anywhere from the Shell Gutter or Shoulder Point east or south. Many of the shallower channels and flats south from there are worth a look for whiting fans too, as are Fraser’s western creeks and the stretches of sand/mud between. Pumping yabbies at low tide, then parking your boat in the way of fish mooching up onto a flat or into a creek is a favoured local whiting technique.
The new moon tides will trigger a response from any whiting moving along our beaches too. The north wind will stir up the shallows through wave action and dislodge their prey. At its peak, a strong northerly is unfishable from our north-facing beaches, however, the residual effect from such commotion in the shallows can have whiting feeding under cover of murkier water for days thereafter.
Of late, we have had reports of good catches of whiting from the Toogoom region, the Burrum coast and up at Theodolite Creek. Moon Point has had its moments too, as have Bridge and Christie’s Gutters. Kingfisher Bay is producing quality whiting too, delighting tourists and local workers alike.
Henry Jones regularly enjoys trips out with with Fraser Guided Fishing, along with his brother Lewis and their dad, Paul.
Here's Lewis Jones hiding behind a goldspot trevally he caught whilst on a recent Fraser Guided Fishing charter with the fam.
Another happy Fraser Guided Fishing client with an average-sized Hervey Bay longtail tuna.
Jacks Lead the Charge in the Creeks
A spike in air and water temperature and an approaching new moon just screams mangrove jacks in these parts. Those hardy souls that can withstand the sandflies and mozzies over in Fraser’s western creeks should be well-rewarded for their efforts on the jack front. Good catches have been reported already from daytime sessions, and warming nights will soon see the local insomniacs over there too.
Night time forays within the Burrum system have been fruitful. Amassing schools of small herring have been observed in the upper reaches of the Burrum itself, yet predators willing to smash lures have been scarce. A good old bait fishing session, soaking mullet fillets or whole baitfish or prawns, will soon see if the red devils are there and just hesitant to succumb to artificials.
Wandering the mid reaches of the Burrum River, or heading up one of its three feeder rivers will soon see you exhausting enough likely hotspots to mix it with the local jack and/or barra populations. Spending time where the baitfish are gathered, and doing so when the tide is slack if lures are your weapons of choice, is advisable. Get creative and daring and see if you can tempt a few jacks after dark on topwater. Succeed in that department and you will want to do very little else this summer.
Barra-wise, there have been mixed results for what has been an extraordinary number of crews out seeking them. The barra haven’t been at all hard to tempt at the right time, with the right approach, but they are scarce throughout many of the usual strongholds. Baren stretches of river are notable and disturbing, particularly at this time of year.
The Mary has given up a few, but they are scattered and in smaller schools than some regulars would like. The Susan is not overly productive at all, but you can manage the odd fish if you keep on the trot and keep working the snags as you roam. The straits can be more rewarding, and not only for those that know their way around.
Many new fishos work these waters out fairly quickly these days, spending perhaps a little too much time trolling the internet, gouging others for info or on google earth, (and maybe less on the water than they should). But there is no denying their enhanced success rate with tools such as side scanning sounders and fully-integrated chart plotters at their disposal. Respecting the waterways the locals have traversed and fished without fuss for so long, and protecting their own future hotspots by avoiding unnecessary backgrounds in their photographs might be worth considering.
Actually, that last statement was probably wasted in a society so drawn to you tube and the short cuts its devotees and gurus are so willing to divulge. Perhaps some will regret their actions later in life when they too become “local” and lament the heavy traffic on the beaut spots they exposed to the screens of the masses. Perhaps.
Anyway, back off the soapbox, and on with the fishing. Queenies are still a viable target down the straits, mainly within the channels that meander through the sandbanks and islands. Grunter can be found up the creeks and in the deeper waters along some of Fraser’s western ledges. Whiting and bream up on the flats, a few blues in the creeks and flatties around the creek mouths, pretty much rounds up the scene down the straits.
Ado hasn't forgotten how to catch salties on suspending hardbodies. This one was released, as so many are these days.
Grunter are great fish to target with the youngsters. They are scrappy fighters and taste great. Watch the anal spikes though.
Mackerel Return to Urangan Pier
A resurgence in school mackerel catches from Urangan Pier is keeping the regulars busy and visiting fishos entertained. Spinning for mackerel with Flasha spoons or other metals is ever-popular for the energetic, and certainly a quick and easy way of finding out if they are there and on the chew.
Otherwise, it’s a matter of catching herring as you need them on a lighter rod and deploying them on your medium-sized tackle attached to a set of gang hooks. Most schoolies have been of decent size lately which is good.
Many will be eagerly awaiting the return of the big giant trevally that move in under the pier when our waters warm. They could turn up early if the mackerel linger. In the meantime, there has been a few tuna coming within range during the making tides this week, and a few small straggler bream and some legal whiting have kept the light line anglers busy at times.
Happy days in an absolute glass out for one of Tri Ton's clients. Goldies are frequent captures on his Fraser Guided Fishing charters.
Charmaine caught this lovely flathead on a soft plastic. Great tides this weekend if you want to have a crack yourself.
Weed Hampers Surf Fishing on Fraser Island
This season’s tailor run hasn’t really impressed too many of Fraser Island’s regulars. There has been plenty of highlights when conditions have been right, but there has been some baren periods as well. Size-wise, it has been chopper central over there, with greenbacks quite rare for most crews.
We’ve received a few reports this week, some from fishos that have returned from extended stays, others from crews still on the island. All have reported one major issue – the dreaded weed! Beach travel has been good, and even some of the access tracks improved with showers that crossed the island last week.
A week ago, the weed was very hard to avoid up along the northern beach in the vicinity of Orange Creek or Ngkala Rocks, and it extended down to the headlands as well. Some gutters were heavily weeded and unfishable up north, others just frustrating with very little return for effort.
The low platforms of Waddy Point were unproductive for extended periods, though the part-mountain goat fishos that fished the more remote and challenging high ledges were well rewarded. Tailor catches were substantial for these younger crews, some throwing back “a hundred” fish. One crew even managed a few jewies from the same high ledges one evening.
For those that haven’t discovered it for themselves, avoiding the weed issue so frustrating in the surf is potentially quite easy – if you venture out onto rocky headlands. So long as the weed isn’t super thick, fishing the deeper waters out behind the surf break can soon have you fishing successfully without the weed gathering on your line. It is the tumbling effect of the surf break itself that gathers the weed along your line and forms those horrible clumps as you retrieve.
The weed was an issue south of the headlands for much of the past week. It started to clear mid-week, but it is still out in the “second gutter” and many fear it may be back along that stretch of beach with the building northerly winds in coming days.
High tide gutters are few and far between along much of the beach south of the headlands. Mid-tide and low tide gutters are currently more common. Just two nights ago, local lads fished a gutter near Eurong for a haul of decent choppers early in the evening.
Whiting have been quite scarce, with only a few schools of barely legal fish found amongst hordes of tiny ones. Small dart have been a pest too, whilst their larger brethren are conspicuous by their absence at present. Pippies are harder to find right now than they were a month ago, being better the further south you travel.
Chopper tailor have been the common catch on Fraser. This one came from Straddie, but even those schools are headed our way.
Barra Impoundments Busy Once Again
Warm northerly winds this week will have budding barra fishos flocking to our stocked impoundments once again. The new moon is potentially very productive, but no more-so than any other phase. Dark nights make for easy hunting for big barra. They home in on the baitfish wandering around gorging on the insane insect hatches that occur when there is no moon.
It is substantially more challenging for fishos during such dark nights however, not just due to the lack of light making casting amongst timber more hazardous, but the response of the bugs themselves when artificial light catches their eye. If you haven’t experienced the bugs on our dams on a dark night, then brace yourself. You won’t have your headlamp on for very long.
Frustratingly, the bug issue is at its worst when you are catching fish. You need to flick the light on to manage your line and land the fish, all the while coughing and spitting out more bugs than you thought possible. The hum alone is unnerving to new players. But hey, that is only a small price to pay for being attached to a rampaging big barra.
In Monduran, daytime sessions are vastly easier, but night time more productive. The north wind will concentrate a huge number of boats in the southern ends of the big bays and on every other point along the way. The fish should respond to the heat and bite well. Many will spook due to excess traffic, as has been the case in recent weeks, so be as inconspicuous as you can, or park somewhere like a point where different schools of fish will swim past.
Awoonga is going nuts at the moment; mostly at night. Many crews up that way are barely even bothering with a daytime session, preferring to save their energy for long nights on the water catching big numbers of fat metre-beaters. Awoonga is unique in this part of Qld, offering a punter the chance to sit in one spot for hours on end catching fish after fish as ridiculous numbers of barra glide past.
Even the rat barra eat big plastics in our impoundments. They can tend to tear a lot though, so think about hardbodies when fishing the rats nests.
There is barra of all sizes biting in the lakes at present. It was the ever-popular Molix Shad that tricked this one for Adrian.
Mondy rats are good fun amongst the grass and bushes as well as the lilies, as Dylan found out recently.
Dane and Christie Tie the Knot
You all know Dane, as the face of Fishos and the son of proud parents and shop owners Bane and Maina. His dream-girl Christie stole his heart some years ago and the two of them have been inseparable ever since. They are getting married today! Christie absolutely loves fishing, and is quite good at it. She has been Dane’s favourite deckie for many years now, and he knew she was a keeper from the get-go.
They will be heading off overseas to a couple of prestigious locations to enjoy some top-notch fishing on a honeymoon that I am sure many other fishos would be quite envious of. No doubt they will return with many happy snaps to share of fish from pristine waters, and they might even have a couple of romantic shots to share too.
Congratulations Dane and Christie, and good luck out there y’all …… Jase
Happy days during past adventures for Dane and Christie out wide. Such trips are always better in glamour conditions such as these.
Dane and Christie have enjoyed many great times on the water together, often chasing reef fish of all varieties.
It only takes a sunset to turn a fishing trip into a romantic getaway. No doubt Dane and Christie will cherish many more scenes such as this in their future together.