Cooler Onshore Breeze Next Week
It was the Fraser Coast’s turn to score the top numbers in the rainfall stakes this week, with Hervey Bay township receiving a solid 160mm Tuesday afternoon and overnight. Localised storm activity dumped heavy rain throughout the district, causing immediate run-off and stream rises.
Hail stones were a feature of storms late last week as well, impacting areas such as River Heads, Maryborough and Rainbow Beach. We were lucky to avoid the hail in town and barely even registered a drop of rain. The week ahead should be devoid of such drama, with quite mild conditions to look forward to.
Tomorrow is looking sensational for anyone lucky enough to hit the water. You can expect light winds early, with a gradually-increasing easterly breeze in the afternoon. A 15-20 knot southeaster will then take hold and prevail throughout the weekend. Saturday is a little less windy that Sunday. Dawn sessions will likely see the best possible conditions wind-wise.
The southeaster will average 15-20 knots for the majority of the working week. The days will be cloudy at times, but showers should only be brief and minimal. It will be quite cool, which many will enjoy as a reprieve from the standard summer heat this time of year.
The moon continues to wane, and tomorrow’s last quarter phase means we are once again in the midst of the latest set of neap tides. Minimal tidal flow will increase as the week wears on and reach its peak just before Xmas.
We mentioned that damage had been done to the River Heads boat ramp pontoon last week, but were unable to confirm any details. It has since come to light that the section of pontoon at the end that laid parallel to the current has been removed altogether.
The ramp is open and the pontoon is open for use. We can only speculate as to what happened to cause the damage. We are unaware of any plans to rebuild the removed section, but will keep you posted if we get word.
Access for fishos fishing from the pontoon has now been drastically reduced. We would encourage anyone planning to wet a line from this boating facility to think twice during busy periods, or at the very least show appropriate courtesies and avoid restricting access to boaties.
Fishing the stones at the heads was a highly productive activity many years ago, and saw some very impressive fish landed. Big estuarine predators such as barra, threadies and jewies, and others such as flathead, grunter, cod, blues and bream have all fallen victim to lures or baits tossed from terra firma. Mackerel, tuna, tailor, queenfish and GTs have all featured at different times too, but don’t expect any such encounters with pelagics with the floodwaters spewing past at the moment.
It will be an interesting holiday period out at the heads due to the diminished pontoon size. Boaties need to streamline their launch and retrieve actions and make way quickly for fellow boaties. If you see someone that needs a hand, then lend them one and frustrations will be lessened.
Massive Deluge a Game Changer for Xmas
Tuesday’s big deluge has created some quite dramatic local run-off and dirtied our rivers and creeks once again. This is a bit of a tragedy in many ways, as our rivers were just starting to recover from previous rains and the fish were moving back in. Estuary fans will now need to rethink their strategies for these Xmas holidays.
The Burrum system’s catchments copped some of the heaviest rains and the run-off swelled the rivers in quick time. Lenthalls Dam was over-topped yet again. At the time of writing, the Burrum is still rising, the Cherwell and Isis are steady and the Gregory is either steady or falling depending upon where the measurements are taken.
Fishos were catching quality grunter in the lower reaches of the Burrum recently. That has all changed. A few fish might still be tempted from the Burrum Heads area, but those seeking the grunter should turn their attention to the drop-offs out beyond the river, or the reefs offshore from there.
Our summer species are starting to fire up, Jason with a nice mangrove jack.
The Burrum system’s healthy mangrove jack population is likely to move from shallower waters to the deeper stuff. Many fish will head downstream and some might venture out of the river proper. Populations of jacks will still prevail in the river and will be worthy targets in the future. Lure fishing will probably have to take a back seat to bait fishing for many jack fans, whilst those that persist with artificials will need to rethink their presentations (consider vibes and topwater for example).
A nice spangled emperor caught with Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters
Many barra will flow with the floodwaters and be transient visitors to the heads area. These fish must be left to spawn in peace, and spawn they will with such perfectly-timed freshwater outflows.
The Mary system received reasonable rainfall as well, but the bigger falls were recorded in the Susan River catchment. At present, the Mary River Barrage has 35cm of water flowing over it, and Tinana Weir is overtopped as well. The Mary is a better version of “dirty” than the Susan at present though, with serious local run-off turning the Susan to mud.
Bengstons Creek is filthy and pure fresh. The Little Susan can be an escape for fish looking to avoid the Mary River floodwaters, but Susan River floodwaters impact it directly. Basically, any riverine hunting expeditions down on the Mary will be best spent outside the heads area or better still, out in the Great Sandy Straits.
There were grunter and threadfin salmon being caught in the lower reaches of the Mary and Susan prior to this deluge. These fish won’t be far away. The vast array of flats and channels out from River Heads is a good area to begin your search, though initially, even these waters will be challenging.
A better bet would be to seek such fish, along with others such as jewies, blue salmon and cod, out in the channels of the straits and along the deep ledges fringing the western side of Fraser Island.
These rains will have pushed our flathead population out into saltier waters too. Flathead fans can seek them out around creeks away from the influence of floodwaters, such as those that meander amongst the many islands of the straits. Otherwise, the drop-offs along Fraser where the run-off meets the salt will be worth a look.
Similar waters could produce queenfish, small (or large) GTs and schools of blue or threadfin salmon. Hordes of baby salmon can be found already, working the current lines and/or holing up in deeper waters off rock bars and the like. These fish are the progeny spawned last wet season and are the future of their fisheries so release them with care.
The reef fish of the straits, and indeed many other estuarine predators such as jacks, fingermark and jewfish, will be best sought from deeper reefs, gravelly areas or ledges in coming weeks. This latest rain event should not be earmarked as a bad thing, just a gamechanger that creates alternative opportunities. Many fishos will applaud the protection the dirty waters offer many fish in certain areas.
Shallow Reefs Impacted by Run-Off
Dirty waters will again impact our shallow reefs such as those fringing Pt Vernon and the bay islands. This is likely a boon for reef fish fans or those seeking grunter again this summer. As you may recall from last summer, the dirtier waters enabled the fish to gather unhindered and fishos reaped the benefits. The next set of big tides just before Xmas should see quality grunter feature amongst catches locally.
The reefs out from the Burrum Coast will be grunter-central in coming weeks. There are mackerel out there on some sites too, which can be a tad frustrating if you are using vibes or softies, so be prepared to try alternative spots if necessary. The Fairway will be super popular these holidays, and is likely to produce well at times for those that can stand fishing amongst a crowd.
How cool are the colours on juvenile red emperor. Pic: Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters
The wind won’t be overly conducive to fishing such exposed areas in smaller vessels (unless you go tomorrow), so many will opt to try the deeper reefs within the local shipping channels this weekend. Urangan Channel itself will be interesting, as surplus waters from the Mary/Susan creep across the Booral Flats and into the channel. Grassy sweetlip, cod, trout and grunter should feed voraciously on the first hint of forage washed their way.
Hot Reels providing the smiles
The local artificial reef sites are fishing okay for trout, cod, grassy sweetlip and blackall – but only if you can beat the sharks. This is nigh on impossible some days, but with the crowds expected after Xmas these areas will be popular all the same. We do our best to educate fishos on avoiding sharks, so politely let others know to move on if you see them sitting there feeding the terrors in grey suits.
The reefs from Moon Point to the Outer Banks are producing a mixed bag of reefies, along with mackerel and the odd passing school of queenies. Again, the sharks are a flaming joke, so do the right thing and keep mobile. Further up Platypus Bay or out into the central bay, you could find a feed of scarlets, grunter and even a few late season squire lurking around rubble or reef structure.
It is hard to mention the wider reefs and stay positive this time of year, as the sharks have moved in big time and it is a tragic scene. The Gutters and Rooneys reefs are certainly fishy, but trying to land anything other than the smaller reefies that you can skull-drag up without much resistance is ending badly. Once again, seek out smaller isolated spots and pick off a feed away from the big ledges and common grounds, or head even wider and further.
Bay’s Pelagic Scene Ever-Changing
Recent run-off won’t impact the open bay waters too much, at least not up the island anyway. There will be a major plume of dirty water in the western bay and locally in the straits, but head north and it will be clear. Some pelagics such as mackerel, trevally and queenfish will respond to enhanced feeding opportunities at the forefront of any dirty water plumes, so scan likely areas in future travels and you may well be rewarded.
The northern bay’s baby black marlin population is largely unaffected. The tides are hardly ideal for flats fishos seeking billfish in coming days, so time spent over the drop-offs or out wider in the bay trolling would be deemed a better alternative. There are still decent numbers of little blacks in the bay and they are quite widespread.
Cobus with a Rooney’s juvenile black marlin caught whilst trolling.
A marlin is probably on the Xmas wish list for many visiting junior fishos and this year is a particularly good year for you to put them onto one. Whilst their numbers are certainly less than in recent months, there will be enough fish lingering up the bay to excite many hopefuls, and a few captures are likely to be accidental.
Chasing tuna is a prime summer time activity to wear the kids out. There are schools of long tails scattered throughout the central and northern bay, and mack tuna schools galore. An array of small slugs and a few heavily-weighted jerkshads attached to spinning gear capable of a fair wick of speed and you are in the game.
Spotted mackerel made an early appearance a few weeks ago and have largely disappeared for the time being. There is already spotties down south in Moreton Bay, so some are asking if we have “missed the run”. Unlikely. It is just a climatic thing, and further schools of spotties will find their way into the bay. This could happen any day, so don’t make the run up north without plenty of slugs on board (if you like a feed of spotties).
School mackerel are a fairly reliable alternative catch for mackerel fans. Seek them out over any reef system up the island with a resident population of baitfish. Troll them up by wandering around such areas or throughout the local shipping channels if you like, and once a school is found, drop spoons to the bottom and crank them back at speed.
Cobus with a beautiful Hervey Bay golden trevally.
Just when the bay’s big bad bruiser GTs turned up, we get local run-off. This event will not move them on, but they may well exit the dirtier shallows in preference for the deeper reefs and drop-offs. Pending the arrival of the plume of dirty water ex-Mary system, the bay islands and the ledges along the inside of Fraser are good hunting grounds for fans of big GTs.
The deeper waters of the Roy Rufus Arti, the Simpson or Hardy arti, are all likely hangouts for nasty big GTs for the remainder of summer. These critters will often be the true culprit when some curse a shark for stealing a prize reef fish.
If anyone wants a tussle, then we dare you to suspend a large live bait above a local shipwreck on heavy tackle and see how many of the brutes you can stop. They soon cotton on to what’s going on and will get a little gun shy, so get in before the crowds and have a crack. Of course, potential shark bycatch is very high and counter-productive, particularly when using a legal mackerel or reef fish as live bait.
Pier Waters Fire Ahead of Dirty Water Plume
The waters beneath the Urangan Pier came alive a few days ago with schools of sizeable broad-barred mackerel, schoolies and another run of spotties. Locals and visitors alike were on hand to take advantage of the pelagic influx and many fish were either spun-up on spoons or caught on gang-rigged live baits.
Young Toby with a nice broad barred mackerel
This is a great fishery for the kids and gets them tangled-up with decent fish without needing a boat. Unfortunately, it is very likely that the plume of dirty water ex-Mary River is on its way and will impact that area in coming days. So, make the most of the current situation and take the kids out the end for a look. If you arrive and it looks dirty, then a change of tactic is warranted.
Toby with another broady from the pier
Big GTs also arrived out the end and have been terrorising the baitfish and mackerel alike. Locals, well-versed in targeting pier GTs, have favoured methods of capture that are proven. One is to deploy “throw downs”; being a steady stream of dead or nearly dead herring tossed one after another into the water as berley for a period, then dropping one with a heavy-gauge hook attached. It is a game of trickery to tempt wary GTs that have had a few recent encounters with alternatives.
Riley got into the broady action at the pier too. The Flasha spoon has been the standout lure as usual.
The other is to swim a larger live bait such as a live mackerel either between or out from the pylons attached to the heaviest tackle you can muster. Sinking such a temptation deep will often get an unseen bite and end in a serious trashing, unless luck is on your side. Swimming a live or fresh mackerel barely beneath the surface and tempting a GT to eat it without letting it get its head down can occasionally end better. You will need your weeties and more than a little luck either way, as those beasts take some wrangling from a platform with pylons 12 feet apart.
Atti with a nice queenfish from the Urangan Pier
GTs of 30 kilos or more turn up at the pier every year. Dozens or fish can be caught in a season, but hundreds are lost. Most landed are more modest fish in the 15-25 kilo bracket, but even fish of this size are a challenge rarely offered from a land-based platform in these parts. Don’t be tempted to use undersized mackerel or other fish as live bait. That would be illegal and could see you cop a fine (particularly with filming via mobile phone so prolific these days).
Normally we would be suggesting a night session chasing pencil squid at the pier this time of year, but apparently the water has been a little too dirty. That situation isn’t about to improve. If you want your pencillies this summer, you will have to get in a boat and head out onto the bay.
You can entertain the kids with a high tide session in the first channel of the pier in coming days. For now, you might tempt a flathead, or just mix it with the array of juvenile fish and the like that lurk in those shallow waters. Once the plume of dirty waters arrives, then your chances of tangling with a few quality grunter is greatly enhanced. Night sessions are better for grunter, but you never know your luck in dirty water, particularly if using prawns or live yabbies.
The same scenario applies to the town beaches. Once a bit of “colour” appears in the water, and the tides build later next week, you can seek grunter with greater confidence. In the meantime, you can let the kids play with small whiting, dart and bream along Torquay Beach or head up along the Pialba stretch and seek out better whiting, the odd flathead or grunter. Stingrays, shovellies and small sharks can be extra entertaining for the kids too, so throw out a bigger bait instead if you so desire.
Impoundment Barra Activity Increasing
We mentioned the option to head to Lake Callide to avoid the crowds at Lake Monduran, then found there to be very few folks at Mondy post-moon. It must be a Xmas shopping related thing, as the lake has been hectic until now.
Anyway, Mondy fished well for brief spells after the full moon, primarily due to the exceptionally warm weather. The barra in the commonly fished waters continue to frustrate for long periods between “bites”. Images of schools of barra, or even typically more responsive individuals, on side scan etc that simply refuse all offerings are commonplace. There is no denying that Mondy’s barra are way more fickle this season than last.
However, persistence is key when the fish won’t bite, as is a willingness to drive away from inactive fish. Return, or find fish at the right time (dawn, dusk, or a key position of the moon) and they will be tempted. This week, the lake’s barra ate a mixture of smaller suspending hardbodies, paddle-tailed plastics and surface presentations. Frogs worked when it was super muggy and cloudy, but were otherwise ignored when the sun shone bright. Poppers worked after dark and triggered bites from fish ignoring all other offerings.
The barra appear to be exiting the backwaters of the big bays in favour of more open waters. This could be a response to a slight drop in water level, or could also be them responding to their seasonal urge to spawn. Either way, time spent seeking them out in deeper channels amongst the flats or off prominent points in the open lake is producing fish at present. Fishing tree tops along river and creek courses is also highly productive this time of year, so don’t fall for the trap of fishing edges and ignoring alternatives.
Word from Lake Callide is that the big barra out there are starting to bite much more consistently. Some have found quality fish either side of a metre along the fringing weed beds and have tempted them with paddle-tailed plastics. Others have twitched hardbodies amongst the timber or along the tops of ridges and scored a few as well.
Trollers are catching barra slow-trolling swimbaits and rattly hardbodies around the open waters whilst looking for schools of suspended barra. Apparently, there is a lot of short-striking going on for trollers, suggesting a lack of commitment from the odd fish. Once they decide to chew properly, they never really miss.
Yellowbelly bycatch is common, and sometimes on large lures that would surprise. Target them in earnest and you can have some A-grade yellowbelly fishing. Hard vibes hopped and wound through suspended fish spotted on the sounder is a great technique to tempt the yellas, as is trolling small deep divers if that is your preference. The yellas are all well-fed and quite fat, and with fish up to 55cm on offer, they are a great alternative for the family fisho looking to entertain the kids.
For those keen on a feed of tasty red claw, Callide is producing good numbers once again. Word is that buckets of good-sized red claw are possible, with some stretching the tape to 35cm. The vast majority are in the 20-30cm range, so a good feed is secured fairly quickly.
Good luck out there y’all …… Jase
Hot Reels Pro Fish Charters
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Trout for dinner on a recent charter with Hot Reels