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Fisho’s Weekly Fishing Report – 14th June, 2024

There are big knobbies out in the bay in increasing numbers, and more than you can poke a stick at offshore.

Cool Clear Days and Chilly Nights

Those lucky enough to be out on the water today will be bragging about the glassy conditions to anyone willing to listen this evening. Many will stay out overnight and make the most of another fantastic spell of weather. The south-wester over the past few days meant early starts were a tad painful, and made afternoon sessions into the evening all the more appealing. For right now though, it’s all systems go for boaties heading for the horizon.

Today’s light and variable conditions will be repeated again tomorrow, with a very subtle westerly barely registering on the Beaufort Scale. A south-west change looks likely early Saturday evening, so being home or close inshore by then will be a good idea. Sunday won’t be nearly as pleasant out wider unfortunately, due to a slight increase in wind strength as it swings back to the south-west. They are saying 10-15 knots and will likely be proven right, particularly about the “15” bit.

Returning to work Monday won’t be so painful, as the south-wester stiffens to 15-20 knots. An easing trend late in the day Tuesday then leads us to another potentially brilliant spell of weather mid-week. Should the next high develop over land to our west as they are predicting, then offshore boat owners will be looking for crew to head wide once again. Look forward to clear skies day and night for the foreseeable future.

Today’s first quarter moon phase means neap tides once again. The waxing moon and making tides as we approach the full moon Saturday week will shift a lot more water as the week wears on. An array of fodder and predatory species will take advantage of these tides and continue on their migratory path into the bay. Expect good things in the lower bay and the straits late next week.

Clint's new Shimano Beastmaster MD 12000 sorted out this big bar cod with no hassle at all.

A double header of solid pearlies on the deep drop gear was welcomed aboard by Clint.

Steve and Tei headed wide and got amongst the pearlies in less than perfect weather.

This brute of a pearly of Tei's was easy work on the deep drop tackle. Bucket mouths of this size are a real chore on conventional rod and reel.

More Stories to Tell from Offshore Fishos

Many offshore crews have enjoyed A-grade fishing over the past week or so. The weather on the day had a say in which bar crossing (north or south of Fraser) was more acceptable. Heading in either direction soon saw those crews into the reef fish big-time. There will be a few suspect sickies today and tools laying idle as locals disappear over the horizon for another crack at some of the best fishing on offer in these parts.

Those armed with the latest in deep dropping tackle can once again plumb the depths and expect a repeat of recent ventures. Some won’t have to of course, having ample fillets on hand from recent trips. A few will head wide to make up for unlucky/bad decisions a week ago, particularly after having had to listen to all the success stories from others.

The 100m line on the cusp of the shelf has proven sharky along many stretches. The sheer mass of life in that depth drawing many mid-sized noahs regardless of minimal boat traffic until lately. Deeper has been the go if you have the electric reels and bent butt rods, with depths beyond 200m producing many favourable species. Snapper and pearl perch have been in abundance, along with plenty of members from the jobfish clans, some large specimens from the cod families and enough weird and wonderful ooglies to keep those new to the game reaching for the reference books.

The grounds up around the Breaksea Lightship (that we still refer to as a “lightship” even though it has been a mere buoy for nearly two decades) have been lousy with sharks unfortunately. Many crews found that out the hard way, and had to take evasive actions. Those that ventured further north and north-west fared much better, scoring excellent red emperor and quality mixed reef fish. That part of the world would be very appealing to anyone who knows those grounds with weather and neap tides such as we have right now.

How happy do you reckon young Jet was with this stonker trout. Awesome fish mate!

Jet had an absolute blinder of a trip. This chunky purple cod (sometimes mistaken for a Blue Maori) was one of his best fish.

A triple header of pearlies for Jet, as he just keeps swinging them into the ice box. Bragging rights for some time there son.

Heading south of the Sandy Cape Shoals and working various depth lines between Fraser and the shelf proved highly productive. Sharks were much less of an issue and a good mixed haul of reefies came home with some crews. Snapper featured from deeper waters, as did a few pearlies, but it was the reds, the RTEs and the big cockies that really stole the show.

Up and down the reef lines offshore, there have been plenty of amberjack. They can turn up in as little as 30 metres or so, and are quite common in 100 metres. Easy to spot on the sounder - as those bigger banana-shaped arches well above the bottom - they can be targeted or avoided at your whim. Suckers for jigs, both slow-pitch and fast, they share the same fighting tactics (and waters occasionally) as yellowtail kingfish, so demand plenty of respect. They are edible in smaller sizes but there are far better eating fish on offer out there.

The annual humpback migration has been making the TV news of late. A good enough reminder that the humpback highway is once again open offshore. They are largely still heading north of course, and our eagerly awaited Hervey Bay whale season will kick off properly in July. The upcoming festival and other events will welcome their return to bay waters, just as local boat skippers get nervous about cruising around at night again. Keep a good watch at all times, especially offshore, and don’t be complacent inshore either, as a stray mother and calf near Woody Island recently proved.

Shane helps Jet hoist a large bar cod aloft for a happy snap. Great team effort lads. Should we guess who caught this one too.

Kookie ensured Jet didn't catch ALL the quality fish. The whole family will be feasting for some time to come after this trip.

This huge chinaman fish had Jet fully stretched and very likely calling it as a big red, as we all do until it appears in the lights.

Tuna Dispersing, Trevally Gathering and Mackerel Lingering

A couple of weeks ago it was tuna galore and sports fishos tearing all over the bay chasing them. Things have changed quite dramatically since then though, as they always do, and the abundance of longtails has diminished and schools are much harder to find. Latest reports suggest there are still a few up off Rooneys, though it has been too rough for smaller boats to slog it up there in the prevailing south-wester.

There are still decent numbers of mac tuna throughout Platypus Bay. Very few in the west we are told, but quite a number close inshore and down the straits. Fish such as tuna with such high metabolic rates have to gorge themselves regularly to sustain their high-speed nomadic lifestyles. They will go where the food goes, and modify their diets to take advantage of what is on offer. 

Unseen tuna schools, both longtail and mac varieties, will feed quite regularly subsurface in winter and you won’t know they are there until you see them on the sounder or hook them. A totally different scenario to the warmer months and the prime autumn season. There will still be opportunities to chase your beloved tuna on surface if you get lucky though, so keep the spin gear handy and ensure you have stick baits tied on, ready for small pods of the biggest of the longtails when they blow up unannounced.

Chris, the maker of Grumpy's Lures, with a hefty longtail caught on one of his creations. Seems they catch more than coral trout and cod.

Fly fishos have a knack for making even the humblest of fish fun, sometimes unconventionally. They also seem to like the taste of their rod, eh Francois.

Logan Allman took a swim to assist a tiger shark on its way after capture. Keen!

Even without the abundance of tuna, Hervey Bay still offers so much for the sports fisho hell bent on bending his/her rod on pelagics. There is another run of spanish mackerel a few miles wide of Wathumba that could be caught and carefully released. Retaining those fish being prohibited in that area as you all know. Dancing stick baits across the surface or just below is an option to make catching spaniards all the more exciting, and should you happen across the right patch of bait being worked by other pelagics then it might even be a kingy or a trevor that crash-tackles your stickie.

Speaking of trevors; we can expect their numbers to swell dramatically as winter unfolds. The warmer-than-usual autumn is well behind us now, and consistent cooler weather has triggered the mass baitfish migration into the bay. The trevally follow, and almost every clan from that genus is represented in Hervey Bay waters in winter. Some will only be small, whilst some will be as big as that species attains. 

Jigging for trevors is popular amongst many sports fishos and a real hoot for the kids. Spend time monitoring your sounder as you wander around the reefs, weed patches, and bait schools in Platypus Bay. You will see mass schools of smaller fish, which will be juvies with appetites bigger than their bellies. Put the younger kids onto them if you wish and sit back and enjoy the fun.

Make an effort to avoid those smaller trevallies and seek out the larger ‘arches’ and you can get more serious with your jigging efforts. Large goldies, diamonds in large and XOS proportions, brassies and gold-spots can be common in those shallower (12-24m) parts of the bay. 

Head deeper off Rooneys and you can add large long-nosed trevally to the above list (the best eating of the clan if you favour a feed of trevally). Head for the Gutters and all of those species will share the waters with some pretty lumpy bludgers, GTs and turrum as well. All hard-pulling, all happy to scoff a jig or a softie, and all good release candidates. Yeah, okay, the diamonds are a bit soft, so get them back in asap, and remember to take steps to avoid the sharks as they won’t be far away in the northern bay.

Reports of pilchard schools in the bay are worth noting. It may come as a surprise to many folks, but we have enjoyed visits by significant biomasses of pillies at times over the years. It seems highly uncommon nowadays, for reasons we can only speculate on, but there are pillies out there again right now. 

If these pilchard schools can match the massive numbers of past decades, where they blacked the water out 100 feet deep for what seemed like acres at sites such as Moon channel and off Rooneys, then that is something to get excited about. They draw sharks, which sucks, but they also drawn many others predators too. See what comes up on your jigs in the future and let us know if they linger. Now, if only the slimies would return en-masse as they did every winter so many moons ago.

Mackerel fans still have plenty to grin about right now. There are ample schoolies getting about in the southern bay, much to the dismay of the snapper fishos trying to jig softies and the like in their presence. The grounds from west of the Fairway to Coongul (basically the ‘banks’) have been alive with schoolies. Go for a spin with a Flasha spoon and thin a few out around the bait schools and major structures in the area and you will be doing the rest of us a favour.

Broad-barred mackerel continue to terrorise the garfish and hardy heads around the bay islands and nearby flats. There are broadies to be found lurking along the deeper ledges at times too, but up in the shallower margins is where these toothy critters will be happiest this time of year. No bait, no fish though remember, so scout around and focus on areas holding bait.

One of four spaniards caught from the central bay by Chris Beddows last week.

Lachie was absolutely stoked with this fine flathead he caught on a lure.

Staff member, Jacko, spent a week on the Clarence River and proved that he can catch flathead anywhere.

Snapper are the Number One Target Once Again

Word is out that there are few snapper in the bay, finally, and many folks are gearing up to get out there and into them. To date, the last week or so has seen a few decent fish caught. Not many true knobbies in the 70cm+ status, but those numbers will improve hopefully. Squire and squirey snapper from barely legal to 60-something centimetres have made up the bulk of most catches. Bag limits have been rare to date, but should be more achievable with each passing week.

The neap tide at present might not excite old snapper fishos such as your scribe, but hey, when the weather is this good, you might as well go for a look anyway, eh. Evening sessions, or maybe a dawn-buster will pay the best dividends inshore. The Roy Rufus arti has been virtually barren of late, so give it a wide berth until the making tides draw in some bait and perhaps reconsider in the near future.

The Burrum 8 Mile doesn’t have a reputation of producing over the neaps, so the Simpson arti will be extremely popular; as will the numerous scattered little lumps and bumps further up the central bay. Avoid those new green zones, but scan the fishable areas nearby. Baitfish are amassing nicely in the central bay. For now, the larger biomass is certainly north of the banks. Moon Ledge might be worth a try for those that can get there pre-dawn or outstay all others into the evening.

Latest reports from the 25 Fathom Hole suggest there is a degree of baitfish beginning to gather, but nothing like the swarms that attract the snapper in numbers later in winter. The flaming sharks are there at the moment anyway we are told, so it might be worth leaving for another few weeks. Spaniards have been caught not far from there, and a stray scarlet or two is possible, but by all means give it a go if you are in the area.

Catches of grunter from sites within Platypus Bay and up Rooneys way have been very satisfying. Very handy bycatch for those struggling to find snapper too by the way. Again, the neaps won’t have them firing on all cylinders, so evening sessions are suggested. They are suckers for softies, vibes and jigs too don’t forget, so weight your plastics a little heavier and bounce the bottom a bit coming on dark and see if you can pick a few up. You might even score the odd scarlet if you are lucky too, but don’t waste time (or fish) by catching undersized ones one after the other.

Efforts really close inshore may be rewarded with a few solid sweetlip after dark, a feed of blackall after dark (if you eat them), or maybe a cod or two. Cod and coral trout are slowing down as the colder water impacts their metabolisms, so live baits and a bit of patience will improve your chances with them. There has been the odd trout taken from ultra-skinny water of late; indicative of a fish seeking warmth from above perhaps.

A winning line-up of snapper plastics rigged and ready to rumble. Jerkshads and curl-tailed profiles were proven on both snapper and grunter.

Dane with an 80cm snapper from a mission last weekend. Glamour conditions enabled the crew to fish on into the evening with plastics.

Not bad bycatch when out on the bay chasing snapper.

Bream are Gathering to Spawn

Bream are schooling in the far southern bay and the straits, and are also amassing in the lower reaches of our rivers. Fraser’s western flats are shimmering from the silver flanks of masses of bream as they mill about and drift across the flats. Their foraging forays in and out of nearby creeks with the tide, and within the feeder channels, are easily intercepted, and a fisho armed with appropriate finesse tackle can have a ball chasing sizable bream on tiny lures.

The bay islands will also come alive with bream schools, if they haven’t already, and similar efforts along the fringes of the rocky shores can be fish-a-cast stuff until you either spook them or need a change of scenery. Hookups to solid blue salmon in slightly-coloured waters are not uncommon either, so don’t write-off every blistering run as a broadie and get off after them if they put some distance on you on the light gear. Go easy though of course, as a blue’s lips will make short work of bream leader if your lure is down its gob.

Beaver rock is just one hotspot in the Mary that bream fishos can suss out. It is popular with bait fishos and rightly so. A little berley, and cricket scores of bream are possible. Night sessions adding even more speed to the creel-filling exercise. Every rocky outcrop from there to the open water of the straits will host numbers of bream in coming weeks. Jefferies Rock, South Head, River Heads itself, and the gravel banks of the lower Susan are just some spots worth trying. Go soak baits, work tiny lures across the rocks, throw micro-topwater, or even troll your tiniest offerings – all can work as the bream fishing bonanza is on!

Flathead fans can pursue their favourite quarry with increasing confidence week by week at this time of year too. The best times are still ahead, but even now, you can manage a few from the creek mouths, drains and gravelly flats. You might even trip over schools of blues, or queenfish, or even an easily-spooked thready if your flathead fishing draws you down the straits.

Christie showing the boys how it's done on a dusk grunter bite.

Dropping a plastic to the bottom at the right time of day was too tempting for this lovely grunter of Andrew's.

Good-eating-size squire were the order of the day, and Christie delivered the goods.

Be Ready for Bycatch When Whiting Fishing

This year’s winter whiting has been quite dismal up until now. Our most recent reports suggest Woodgate offers the best fishing, whilst Toogoom comes in a fairly solid second. Continuing cold weather, clearing water and better tides to come should see whiting numbers rise, and other grounds come online, but for now that is all we can offer.

We might suggest being prepared for some handy bycatch whilst chasing winteries though. Not the annoying, soul-destroying bycatch such as green toads and the plethora of tiddlers so attracted to grounds favoured by whiting. But better fish, worth that little extra effort to ensure a degree of variety in your next seafood banquet. 

Fish such as mackerel in particular, drawn to all the action and silvery flashes of whiting being hauled to your boats. Fish so easily caught by attaching a live whiting to a gang hook, then tossing it astern, lightly-weighted (or on a pillie similarly-rigged if you prefer). Even a few tailor might arrive and perform the same whiting-stealing tactics as the mackerel, so be prepared.

Ensuring you have a squid jig or two handy, or preferably rigged and ready, is a good idea. As you never know when a squid or whole school of them might turn up over the whiting grounds and tease you as they suss you out or try to steal your whiting. Extra buckets, or other containers will be very handy should you be so lucky as you never want to mix squid with your fish, on ice or otherwise. They are messy enough. Go chase some squid in the nearby shallow fringes if you really like calamari and make your day a little more entertaining.

Finn Welch bettered his first cod on a lure by trolling up an even bigger model. Great fish Finn, you little legend.

Ivy Welch proudly holds just one of a few flatties she caught trolling her new favourite pink lure. Lovely fish Ivy.

Rick Russell proving that winter time threadies are very much catchable.

Bigger Bream Have Pier Fishos Excited

Okay, so we aren’t all bream fans, but those that are look forward to the run of big bream at the Urangan Pier every year. The season was slow to start due to warmer autumn weather, but that is all forgotten now, as numbers beneath the pier have swelled and there are some truly large specimens amongst them.

Bream to 45cm have been caught over the past week. A fish of 42cm achieves the one kilo benchmark, so fish bigger than that are deemed stonkers amongst bream fans. Fish of that size are also very challenging to extract from amongst the pier’s pylons, so ultra-light finesse tackle has to make way for something a tad heavier if you are to stand a chance with the biggest fish.

Most quality pier bream are caught by bait fishos bouncing baits of herring (strips, butterflied or cubed) back under the pier with the tide. They spend hours bent half upside down over the rails getting their baits to the best fish. The more successful fishos frequently change their sinker sizes to match the prevailing current. Just enough to get to the bottom, but not enough to hold bottom. Then they feed a little line to enquiring fish and await that committed pull. Much akin to float-lining for snapper really, just upside down and backwards under the jetty.

Lure fishos will wander out for a crack at the bream now too. They rarely bother until the numbers arrive. Some favour the tiniest of blades; others conventional jighead-rigged prawn imitations, mini jerkshads or curly-tailed plastics. All of them curse the pike and tailor and move about to avoid them (and any further lures losses). At the same time, savvy fishos with past success get their Cranka Crabs back out for that once-a-year crack at the pier bream, wafting their tantalising little crab imitations down the pylons waiting for all hell to break loose.

While all this is happening, other pier fishos are going about their usual pelagic pursuits, sending live herring out for mackerel, tuna or trevally, and having a few random spins with a spoon. We aren’t aware of any mackerel this week just gone, but there has been mac tuna caught. Small tailor have been a real nuisance. Very few have been of legal size so far. Flathead fans should be wandering the planks looking for their quarry this week, and spending what time it takes to secure live pike to better their chances.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

Luis caught this mac tuna from Urangan Pier recently, and also managed a solid longail and school mackerel for dinner.

A big night time flatty was a bonus for Andrew Stevens.

Dressing metal slugs up with assist hooks for surf fishing puts you in the game for 'jigging' dart. A tactic worth trying when bigger dart are plentiful

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