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Fisho’s Weekly Fishing Report – 15th March, 2024

A mighty fine wahoo from a recent Double Island Point Fishing Charter.

Trade Wind Continues to Blow

If you are feeling frustrated at the lack of fishing opportunities over the past week, then you are certainly not alone. The only ones loving the past week’s weather were sail boarders and kite flyers. It was even too damp to mow the lawn most of the time.

The south-east trade wind that dominated the past week is set to continue its dominance. There is a strong wind warning issued for Hervey Bay waters today, that could see the breeze peak at 30 knots this afternoon. Saturday is potentially a bit better, but only just. 15-25 knots is the official call, with that breeze easing slightly to 15-20 knots for Sunday. Showers are just as likely as they were last week, so if nothing else, the lawn will continue to grow.

As you can imagine, the weather offshore is even worse. 20-30 knots from the south-east, forming 2 metre seas on a swell of around 2 metres. Dangerous surf warnings were issued last week for Fraser Island’s eastern beach, and there is every likelihood the same warnings will be repeated this weekend. This weather is certainly nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, it is quite typical for late summer and early autumn in these parts.

The working week doesn’t look much better than the weekend at this stage. 15-20 knots of onshore trade wind until at least Wednesday. We might get lucky thereafter perhaps, but even then, looks doubtful. At least the week day forecast is better than the past week, offering ample opportunity for keen fishos to sample the conditions in our rivers or seek shelter from the wind close inshore or in the straits.

There won’t be much run in the tide in coming days as we enter another neap tide phase. Certainly, a lot less tidal flow than the new moon period last week. The half-moon of Sunday’s first quarter is a comforting moon for those that like to fish the afternoon into the evening, and the minimal tidal flow makes for easy lure-fishing conditions (even if the wind doesn’t).

With next to nothing to write about regarding the fishing last week, let’s take a look at a few options to get your fix this week.

It will be a while before we get weather such as this, but we can still drool over past catches such as this fine red from 1770 that Trent caught.

It’s a red! It’s a red! No .... it’s a bl%#@y chinaman! These things pull harder than red emperor, but your excitement deflates as soon as the true ID is revealed.

Even Landlubbers Need to Fish Sheltered Waters

There are exceptions, but for the most part, landlubbers will need to seek sheltered waters just like boaties will this week – if they wish to fish comfortably. Luckily, the Hervey Bay district offers many such locations where someone on foot can cast a line out of the wind.

The town beaches offer some reprieve, and might offer the odd tasty delight, but the neap tides are less appealing than the springs. All the same, a late afternoon session chasing grunter might turn into a serious evening sesh if there are a few schools of small baitfish seeking the same shelter as you. Otherwise, a few flicks of an appropriate softie around the fringes of any rocky outcrops or man-made structure might produce a flathead perhaps.

The local creeks offer respite from the prevailing breeze, and the neap tides suggest a wander upstream would be worth considering. Mangrove jacks are still biting very well, and even our hammered little creeks are home to some impressive sized fish. You won’t be able to avoid the baby estuary cod, whether using bait or lure in the mid-upper reaches, but persist, and keep on the move and you will get your chance at a jack (and you might even score a barra or two).

Flathead may be lurking in the lower reaches of our local creeks, perhaps somewhere out of the wind knocking off a feed of baitfish seeking shelter from the wind and waves. The neaps won’t drain the flats much, yet the wave action over exposed flats is likely to see flatties retreat for deeper waters nearby. Target these deeper drains and your next “flattie” may even turn out to be a grunter, a salmon or a barra.

Although cooling slightly, our waters are still very warm. Large sharks remain very active and have been cruising just off our local shoreline after dark. Shark fishos can kick back soaking baits out of the wind and expect to get several runs in a single evening. Smaller sharks are easily managed, yet tales of unstoppables are unnervingly common.

Freshwater barra are an option in windy weather. Solid fish like this are readily available in many waterways in our area.

Pack a Rod and Take a Sunday Drive

Getting out of town altogether is a great idea for frustrated fishos. Heading for Burrum Heads is simple enough, but you will need to join the locals at the popular and easily accessible spots. There have been some interesting captures from the Burrum Heads shores in recent weeks, including some solid barramundi. Queenies, flathead, grunter and sharks are all possible at times, but is can be very tough.

Heading through Maryborough and veering left is a potentially more interesting option. The Cooloola Coast offers its own land-based fishing opportunities, as the Tin Can Bay and Rainbow Beach locals will all know. Between here and there though, the small hamlets that are nestled on the major mainland creeks of the Great Sandy Straits offer a fisho on foot a crack at some interesting fishing.

Mangrove jacks can be found in the mid-upper reaches of these creeks, and access points in some cases put you right in the midst of their terrain. Kayakers are fond of these creeks and have been known to retell many a yarn of jacks blowing them away with ridiculous consistency.

Google Earth etc will help you locate and navigate to any potential fishing sites along the straits’ mainland. Flatties, whiting (on bigger tides), queenies, grunter and bream can all be found potentially, and you should not be surprised to encounter barra or salmon from some stretches.

Perhaps you might jump on a Fraser Island barge for a day out at Kingfisher Bay Resort. It will be totally out of the wind over there and quite pleasant. We are unaware what is on the chew at present, but given the time of year, it could be anything from whiting, flathead, blackall and squid, to barra, jewfish or a host of pelagics. If the baitfish are packed beneath the jetty seeking shelter, then some form of predator won’t be far away. 

Offshore charter clients are always hoping to catch red emperor. Heading out with Double Island Point Fishing Charters improves your chances.

Boaties’ Options are Limited Once Again

Boaties can find shelter in the usual spots such as Gatakers Bay, the straits or our rivers. Putting up with the wind is one thing, but the frequency and consistency of the showers of late has been something else, and makes evening sessions in particular, less appealing. Hopefully less showers this week. 

Of course, its hard to get excited about neap tides over shallow reef country, but with so few alternatives, some folks will give it a try anyway. Target species are still coral trout, grunter and sweetlip, with tuskfish, blackall and cod also being possible. Baitfish might even be gathering out of the wind and could draw in the queenies etc, so if you give the shallow fringing reefs a try, go early (or late) and be ready for anything.

Wind strengths peaking at 20 knots leaves the door open for those in more capable vessels to venture out into the southern bay. Timing your run right might see you fishing for reefies or GTs on the Roy Rufus arti, or similar things over along Fraser’s protected western side. Once through the rough stuff, the day out could be quite pleasant and productive, and you won’t have to deal with the usual inshore crowds.

Tuna fans will be monitoring the weather as this week rolls on. Once it looks like 15 knots rather than 20, some will take a run up the island. As mentioned plenty of times in the past, sustained onshore blows such as this one often see baitfish amass in Platypus Bay escaping the rough seas elsewhere. Protected from the wild wave action they may be, but not from the tuna that pursue them so relentlessly.

It hasn’t been a near miss from an east coast low this time around, just a decent blow, but the result could be the same. Potentially masses of longtail tuna gathered in serious numbers tearing around Platypus Bay as well as along its beach flats. There was already lots of tuna in the central bay prior to this blow, so chances are the schools have moved east (into the wind). If you are an avid tuna fan, then get your gear ready if the wind eases, as you could be in for a fat time up the island.

Double Island Point Fishing Charters has been amongst the snapper recently. Jump aboard when the weather improves and this can be you.

Local lad, Les, knows a good charter operation when he sees one. He was very happy with this fine snapper from a Double Island Point Fishing Charter.

Launching from River Heads Offers More Options

Whilst it can certainly be wild and woolly at River Heads in a stiff south-easter, keen enough boaties with local knowledge and good timing can make their way over to Fraser or down the straits without too much hassle. Not today – it’s too windy and getting worse. Sunday maybe.

Kingfisher Bay Resort’s jetty can be quite interesting. Ex-river predators can hold station there for periods, as can pelagics and a variety of reef fish. A session from the jetty itself can be quite exciting, yet boaties have the option to fish those waters altogether differently. There is a surprising mix of quality reef fish to be caught within sight of the jetty, in various depths of water. Pelagics such as GTs, queenies and mackerel also abound if the baitfish are gathered, and tuna are frequently seen traversing the shipping channel.

Heading south and scoping out one or several of the straits’ creeks will appeal to some fishos. Barra are the main target for a few, though being prepared for the diversity the straits offer can mean your barra session quickly turns into a jack/grunter/salmon session. The neap tides may not make the salmon as visible as they will be on the springs, but you’ve all got fancy sounders nowadays so that isn’t an issue.

The Mary and Susan Rivers continue to run dirty. That doesn’t mean you can’t fish those rivers – far from it – it just means your fishing will need to be more selective and your timing spot on. Ebb tide sessions can be less productive over vast stretches of river, whilst the at-other-times-less-popular flood tide enhances the bite. Bait fishos will continue to have the edge when the waters run muddiest, but you can back a good lure fisho to come up with the goods when conditions improve.

Soft and hard vibes are wonderful tools in dirty water. Vigorous jerks on the softies and less-so on the hard models will ensure you attract fish and don’t spook them. Target species such as barra, salmon and grunter are suckers for these handy little lures all year round, but even more-so at times like these. 

When conditions are favourable, many folks will resort to prawn imitation plastics, large and small. The biggest prawn lures are very tempting (to us and the fish), but never discount the effectiveness of a small prawn-shaped artificial when times get tough. The GULP shrimp has been proven time and time again over the years and will once again beat all alternatives in coming weeks. Some of us will even exchange the usual 3” version for the smaller 2” model just to trick those frustrating big jelly-prawn-fixated threadfin salmon.

Fraser’s western creeks are interesting right now. Local rainfall has maintained a stain in some, pure fresh upstream and salty at the mouth. The resident mangrove jacks revel in such conditions, but are also highly mobile. You can pretty safely assume they will be found well upstream in dry times, and can be very spooky in the gin clear water too. Right now though, they are widely spread and not as easily spooked in the coloured waters. 

Make the most of coming weeks if you wish to get amongst the jacks. It won’t be long and further cooling of our waters will see their enthusiasm to crash tackle your lures wane. During this period of cooling waters though, a creek’s bigger jacks will be hyperactive and keen to fatten up for leaner times. Many will migrate beyond the creeks and move out to the reefs. You have the chance to intercept them. These will be stonker jacks and worth the extra effort.

Richard Boully has commenced charter fishing in the Great Sandy Straits. Look him up online or on social media - Epic Sportfishing Australia.

Richard's charter vessel is especially suited to the flats so prevalent throughout the straits. A quick and comfy ride for a great day out on the water.

The Burrum System Will Be Popular

There is nearly always traffic on the Burrum, and this week won’t be any different. Locals will continue to track the barra as they move with the tides and varying water quality. Mangrove jack fans will gather fresh bait and park upstream of their favourite rock bars or snags, hanging on intently for that savage bite.

The run of barra is what is drawing the Hervey Bay ‘tourists’ to the Burrum system. Quality barra have been widespread throughout the four rivers and very active. Those with scanners won’t have too much trouble tracking down some likely targets, but they might find it hard to escape prying eyes. If the showers disappear, then an evening session is one such way, and potentially mind-blowing this time of year. Topwater rules when the barra are on the move after dark.

Some river folks have been getting their gear stretched on a seemingly endless run of bull sharks in the rivers. Bait fishing with mullet or eel is popular, and the bites can come pretty quickly. This caper isn’t for everyone, yet offers an adrenalin rush for some, and even a feed for those that aren’t too fussy.

There is still water spilling over Lenthalls Dam wall. Not much, as can be seen from the picture hereabouts, but enough to maintain a stretch of freshwater in the upper reaches of the Burrum itself. Most fishing effort will continue to be focussed well downstream, and the closer to the mouth you go, the more diverse your target species and options can be. You might find a few grunter or flathead, but it is till about the jacks and barra for most folks.

Lake Lenthalls continues to overflow, albeit only minimally, maintaining a distinct fresh in the upper reaches of the Burrum River.

Matty always does well on the muddies. This fat buck was worth a happy snap for posterity.

Enhance Your Diet with Crustacea

I mentioned the excellent mud crabbing many locals recently enjoyed in last week’s report. Weather restrictions have kept many off the water, whilst others went crabbing for want of a better alternative. The muddies just keep on coming in some streams it seems, though effort shift is worth monitoring by those on the water regularly. 

More wind and more showers this week will make crabbing a popular option again. Upstream movements of crab returning to the drains etc is likely to only be interrupted by significant flooding at this time. That seems unlikely for the immediate future, so there will be happy crabbers intercepting the muddies’ march again this week.

There is a whole community of banana prawn fans out there monitoring whatever social media pages are dedicated to the ‘sport’, yet very few willing to be the scouts that find the prawn first. This hasn’t really changed much over the years, just the medium by which word is spread along the grapevine. 

Any prawner that braved the high winds and massive tides last week deserved the prawns they got, and can be respected for keeping their catches under wraps. Needless to say though, it won’t be long and the local grapevine will be alive with chatter about bananas, and at that time, you might even read about it here too.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

A crew of veterans get together annually under the banner of King Linger Fishing Adventures. Hervey Bay was their chosen destination this year.

Braving the windy weather was challenging for the King Lingers Fishing Adventures crew. The tuna fishing was tough, as it is when it’s too windy.

Solid flatties can be caught from our rivers, as this member of King Lingers Fishing Adventures found out recently.

The weather forced the boys from King Linger Fishing Adventures to seek sheltered waters. This barra was a worthy capture on a windy day.

Trolling a deep diver in howling winds was a last resort for the King Lingers Fishing Adventures crew. This cod was their best result in tough conditions.

Winners are grinners. The boys from King Lingers Fishing Adventures compete for a perpetual trophy, just to spice up the comradery.

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