Staff member Jacko with a nice island lizard, easily fooled with a hopped soft plastic.
This Weekend Looking Good
Well, after a tumultuous week of weather, including persistent trade winds, squalls and way more rain than forecast, we can all look forward to a vastly better week ahead. In fact, the wind is dropping right out this afternoon and its looking sensational for the next couple of days.
A light offshore breeze will greet the sunrise tomorrow, and the day will only get better from there on. Barely a 5-knot zephyr Friday evening into Saturday will mean more waves from boats than the wind for the first half of the weekend. Expect light southerlies in the morning and a lovely light northeaster in the afternoon.
Sunday will dawn a little chillier as a subtle southwester kicks in. There is potential for up to 15 knots max, so inshore will appeal to most boaties that day. Supposedly this southwester will sustain at around 10 knots all day, but you can live in hope that it eases as the temperature variation between land and sea equalises.
The breeze will increase as it turns back onshore again during the day Monday. A building southeaster should peak around the 15-20 knot mark Monday through Wednesday. Showers are possible, but not likely until Tuesday at this stage.
The tides are building under a waning moon at present. The new moon on Saturday will see another peak in the tide cycle before the moon begins waxing once again. Great tides for so many fisheries, both inshore and out wide. Make the most of the better weather if you can and share your proud moments with us next week if you wish.
Jackson with a bay grunter he caught whilst hopping a soft plastic.
Local Creeks Entertaining the Landlubbers
Shore-based forays have been the go over the past week due to weather restrictions. Some wandered out along the Urangan Pier to prospect, but only few were rewarded for their efforts. A random school mackerel or two made a fatal mistake, but otherwise it was only a few modest bream and the odd flathead on offer.
Bream fishos should be considering pier sessions over coming days and nights. The new moon tides and cooling waters are prime for the first of the season’s bream to arrive – right now! Bait fishos might score best until the hordes arrive, yet those prospecting with Cranka Crabs, small blades or appropriately-weighted softies are still in the game. Expect to hear plenty about the pier bream fishery in coming weeks.
Now that the wind has eased, the flatties will move back into shallow waters. The bigger tides will appeal to the growing number of flatties lurking around our creek mouths, and beach-goers might even pick up the odd fish around the groynes or near-shore reefs in town. Hopping small plastics or twitching and rolling Daiwa Double Clutches is deadly on flatties, though you can also try a humble prawn, hardyhead or pillie if you prefer.
This past week, there were plenty of decent bream caught along with the flatties from our creeks. Beelbi offers some of the easiest and occasionally the better fishing, though Eli, O’Reagans, Pulgul and the Burrum at the heads are all worthy of a visit at the right stages of tide. Think mid run out and early flood for your flatties and the higher stages of the tide for the bream.
Passing schools of queenfish and tarpon can add further excitement to these creek wandering sessions, as can sight-fishing to barramundi spotted sunning themselves amongst the snags. Making your way upstream will see small estuary cod swiping at baits and lures and potentially a feed of prawns for those carrying a cast net.
The Booral Flats warrant a visit or two from landlubbers over coming days. Once the wind drops or turns offshore, then these flats offer lure and bait fishing options for several species. The most commonly targeted are whiting and flathead, though bream, blue salmon, grunter and even threadfin salmon are possible. You will need decent footwear and a degree of wanderlust to succeed along these flats.
If you prefer sand between your toes than mud, then head west out of town and try the beaches along the coastline from Dundowran to Burrum Heads. Toogoom fishos have been enjoying a few meals of fresh whiting this week during the making tides. The whiting have been peaking around the 30cm mark, but the average size has been good.
It’s Whiting Time on Fraser Island
Famous for its incredible annual springtime tailor migration, Fraser Island has plenty more to offer “out of season”. Right now is prime time for Fraser’s big whiting for example, and already, the locals over there have been getting stuck into them.
Soaking beach worm or pippy baits in the shallow low tide gutters and melon holes is the go for whiting. They can show up all along the surf beach, starting with good numbers initially along the stretch north of Hook Point, then appearing anywhere from there north where the right gutters are formed.
At present, there are excellent low tide gutters scattered along the central beach section, and schools of quality whiting are on the chew. Fish to 40cm have been caught this week. Dart have also been getting in on the act for anyone tempted to throw the same abovementioned baits into the rips or draining gutters, offering great sport and a handy feed if eaten fresh.
High tide sessions have been best around Waddy Point for those in the area. Again, it is the whiting and dart that are the standouts, but flathead, bream and tarwhine are all possible. As winter unfolds, we will hear more about bream and tarwhine around the rocky outcrops along the beach, and a few tailor will turn up sporadically.
For those keen to gather their own bait, we are told that pippy numbers are very good. We haven’t heard about the worming, but might assume that it is fine, as we have had no significant rains or violent weather to put them down.
Like a jew, only smaller. This time of year in our rivers, creeks and island ledges fish this size and larger can be expected.
Winter Whiting Fishing Set to Improve
The start to our local winter whiting season has been very slow. To date, the weather hasn’t always been favourable when the tides are, but that won’t be an excuse this week. The new moon tides this time of year are well worth a session or two chasing winteries.
A couple of sneaky locals have scored a feed of reasonable whiting after launching at Gatakers Bay. Inclined to keep it to themselves for obvious reasons, they won’t have this fishery to themselves for very long. The cold snap coming this weekend should see the arrival of whiting off Gatakers Bay, or somewhere along the strip from Dundowran to Toogoom.
In case you struggle to find them, going on land-based captures along that strip, there is every chance you could score a feed of “summer” whiting by heading closer inshore if you wish, or you might even find the same summeries out wider. Ensure you can tell the difference, as only winter whiting (also known as trumpeter or diver whiting) are unregulated when it comes to size. All other whiting species must be a minimum of 23cm to be kept.
Don’t rely on the blotched nature of the winteries as your sole identifier, as quite often, winteries will not show their blotches until they are in the esky. The best and most reliable identifier is that all regulated species have a concaved dorsal fin, whilst the winteries’ dorsal fin is convex.
As mentioned recently, there are good schools of winteries on offer for those that wish to venture down the Great Sandy Straits. Launching from any of the little hamlets from Maroom to Tin Can Bay will soon see you onto the whiting. Alternatively, those out at Burrum Heads might prospect off Woodgate Beach as very often there has been schools amassed in that area this time of year. Unfortunately, a lot of this is just speculation until the local whiting fleet hits its groove. Until then, we will throw you some hints and the rest is up to you.
Know the difference.
Switching from Tuna and Mackerel to Trevally and Cobia
Perhaps the very best of our autumn topwater tuna fishing is behind us, but this being Hervey Bay, you can still expect to encounter plenty of tuna if you are willing to modify your approach. From now into winter, many of the tuna schools that were balling up tiny baitfish on the surface will shift their focus to the amassing schools of larger baitfish sub-surface.
Many schools ride the making tides down into the Great Sandy Straits too, harassing the hell out of any roaming herring or hardyheads they come across. Quite often, the larger surface bust-ups within the straits or the southern bay this time of year are mack tuna. Occasionally though, and yet still quite reliably, smaller pods of large longtails wander the same paths terrorising all manner of baitfish. This is not to say that you won’t find longtails and macks out in the bay proper – as you still will – just not as often.
So, arm yourself with plenty of small metal slugs as usual, along with the standard jerk-shads rigged to heavy jig heads and a few stickbaits, but be prepared to sink your offerings deeper around baitfish schools spotted on your sounder. Accidental encounters with tuna will become more and more common for fishos plying the reefs and bait schools for snapper and trevally in coming months. Even trollers will score occasional longtails when trolling deep divers for snapper etc.
Mac Tuna can be found throughout our inshore bays waters this time of year only being tempted with small profile metals, soft plastics and fly.
Mackerel numbers are dwindling too as their southern migration sees school after school depart our waters. For the time being, we still have plenty of schoolies wandering the bay. Small, undersized fish are certainly an issue in some areas, but quality schoolies are still possible, particularly in the central bay. Look for schools of herring and yakkas and hunt them down on the troll, by spinning spoons or dropping live baits or gang-rigged pillies their way.
Spanish mackerel will soon disappear altogether, but for now, you still might chance a few from the Gutters, the Rooneys reefs or offshore around the Sandy Cape Shoals. Heading south and crossing the Wide Bay Bar would otherwise increase your chances.
As one species move on, another moves in. As our baitfish grow out, and our cooling waters draw aggregations of other larger baitfish, their pursuing predators vary. From now on into winter, increasing numbers of trevally will call Hervey Bay their temporary home. Many species will arrive in winter - seemingly every other trevally you can think of eventually.
Until then though, it is the somewhat resident golden trevally schools that are the main drawcard for sportsfishos. Goldies have been prevalent around reefs and baitfish schools in the southern bay for several weeks now. The Fairway, the Outer Banks, the Arch Cliffs 6 Mile and artificial reefs further south all attract hungry goldies. Dropping jigs and plastics their way soon gets a reaction, though so does a live bait or even a well-presented dead baitfish.
Some golden trevally also make their way into our larger creek systems at times, livening things up for grunter hunters and the like flicking lures on the light gear. Similarly so, sessions up on our local flats can see you teased by cruising goldies, large and small. Nowhere near the numbers we were once famous for, yet still worth pursuing for those willing to seek them out on sunny, windless days over the bigger tides.
Jeff Hirning with a solid lump of a golden trevally caught whilst out in the bay.
Queenfish can also surprise creek fishos at times, yet they are more at home wandering the meandering channels and gutters of the straits, the nearby flats and Fraser’s western ledges. Queenies soon give themselves away with the feeding tactics, and being so fond of hardyheads, herring and garfish, can be fairly easy to track down at times.
The bigger tides should see more queenies feeding around the current lines off the bay islands, and potentially around bait schools inshore. Often they turn up at sites such as the Bait Grounds or along the fringing reefs of Woody Island this time of year – pike being the drawcard for them in those waters.
Already this autumn, we have heard of a few bragging-class cobia caught from the northern bay. Cobes should be a regular feature of the reef fishery out at the Gutters and at a few other sites such as The Althea, Red Neds, Rooneys Hole and elsewhere. Gatherings of yakkas or other similar-sized baitfish, along with masses of juvenile demersals are typically what draws cobia to a given ground.
Cobes can be found offshore as well, often haunting shipwrecks, large pinnacles on the shoal country and rocky outcrops close inshore east of Fraser. Night sessions can be exhausting if you happen to park the boat on a cobia hangout, as these guys get even more ravenous when the sun goes down. Huge fish too, some up to a massive 50kg visit our waters each year, and indeed many 30kg models are caught annually by all and sundry.
Sharks are still going to be a major hassle, no matter what fish species you are chasing out in the bay. Be shark savvy and put some distance between you and them when they find you, particularly if they are poaching quality reef fish. When once we might have suspended a large live bait (legal reefy or mackerel etc) above a given reef hoping for a tussle with a mighty cobia or GT, these days sadly, that same bait would be shark fodder in no time.
Heading Wide for Reef Fish
Such awesome weather tomorrow into the weekend will see a veritable flotilla of vessels heading far and wide in the hunt for a feed of reef fish. Pent up energy during the frustrating week just gone can be unleashed on virtually any species you can think of this week. There will be a bit of residual swell to our south, so only those familiar and confident with the Wide Bay Bar are likely to head that way, though the scene is set for exciting times north of Fraser this weekend.
A lack of traffic east of Breaksea Spit will hopefully mean the sharks have dispersed, or at least scattered. The riskier grounds remain the 100m line along the shelf, though there will be pockets of country even there that you can hopefully avoid the bities. Looking for smaller aggregations of quality fish along the edge, away from the vast masses elsewhere that draw the noahs could be worthwhile.
It’s a general who’s who of the continental shelf scene out there with snapper, pearl perch and rosy jobfish probably the main standouts. Other jobbies, such as iron jaw, filthy big amberjack and some thumping big venus tuskfish all feed in this depth, whilst out wider and deeper, more jobbies such as rubies, flamies and goldbands offer variety amongst the bar cod and other ooglies for the deep droppers.
Current-wise, it is hard to call. The EAC has certainly slowed in that area by the looks of BOM’s SST Charts, and there is bound to be slower-moving waters out there somewhere. The big ebb tide from Hervey Bay will impact shallower waters to the shelf line where these waters spew around the top end of the bar. Eddies left in the wake of this flow, or preceding such events offer excellent conditions for bottom bashers.
Chasing reefies over the shoal country either side of 50 metres deep should be productive. Species such as red emperor, red throat sweetlip, tuskies, maori cod and coronation trout are all possible, so long as your baits can withstand the onslaught of the hussar when necessary. As the water cools out there, pearlies and snapper will become regular captures along some reef systems, whilst cobia and green jobfish pounce on baits and lures fished up off the bottom.
The big tides will make fishing the country up towards Lady Elliot Island quite challenging. Your ability to contend with excessive tidal flow will determine your likelihood of success if heading up that way. Periods of less water movement around tide turns should be focussed upon, with reds, scarlets, trout, cod, sweeties and tuskies on the hit list.
If you have mastered the art of dropping heavily-weighted softies such as prawn imitations to our reef fish, then perhaps the next step is to get into jigging with slow pitch jigs. These lures stay in the strike zone better again when required and all of the above species are suckers for them. If you managed to get your hands on some Nomad Squidtrex recently then these new lures would be dynamite in that same territory too.
Slow pitch jigging this time of year can be a very successful technique. To save you time looking, we stock a massive range of all of the best jigs in the business.
Many crews will rush for the Southern and Northern Gutters once again this weekend. How well they will do will be determined by the sharks. The reef fish numbers out that way have never recovered from shark attrition and increased effort in recent years, but if you are willing to chance it over the darks, then hopefully you score a decent feed.
Coral trout are the number one target out there, as always. You might find them more active on the later tide turn of the day if it is a bit chilly in the morning. Some savvy locals won’t rush early, favouring a later launch to secure live baits with the intent to fish on into the evening. Chances are there will be plenty of grassy sweetlip amongst your esky of mixed reef fish, along with a few tuskies and perhaps some red fish from the emperor or nannygai clans if you get lucky – sharks permitting of course.
Fishing the fringes of the reefs could enhance your chances of a few squire out that way, and even a decent snapper around dawn, dusk or during the evening. Night sessions this time of year are great. There are no whales to worry about like there will be in two months’ time. The arrival of the southwest wind Sunday morning will unsettle the unfamiliar in smaller vessels though, so keep that in mind. Big cobes, reef jacks, spangled emperor, reds and scarlets all join the snapper for an enhanced bite at night. Hopefully there won’t be any “phosphorous” in the water over this set of darks.
Snapper the Main Target Inshore
Many will be out to score their first snapper of the season this weekend. The new moon tides are great and the weather, for Saturday at least, looks great. Sunday’s southwester won’t excite experienced local snapper fishos, as such a wind inshore is rarely conducive to a good snapper bite.
Popular inshore sites will be the Outer Banks, Arch Cliffs, Simpson arti, Moon Ledge and Roy Rufus arti. A lot of traffic can be expected at any and all of these areas this weekend. There will be snapper caught, sharks permitting, and a few decent squire as well.
Bait fishos should probably time their efforts for after dark as the presence of lure fishos and trollers trying to fish popular grounds could get a tad frustrating. Evening is always best for bait fishos anyway, and is the proven method of overcoming the inshore southwester issue.
Hopping softies is the numero uno snapper hunting technique locally these days. Many softies can work, but some stand out as proven performers. Prawn imitations are certainly hard to beat, and not necessarily the larger ones. Rig light enough, leader-wise, to tempt the snapper, but re-think the really light tackle. Four kilo gear was once more than adequate to battle big knobbies inshore, but with the sharks nowadays, ten kilo gear is much more appropriate.
Turn of tide sessions dropping live baits or tea bagging lures on some reefs could see you hooking a trout or cod. The odd scarlet (nannygai) can be found inshore this time of year, but better numbers prevail further north up the bay. Sweeties will take a liking to many baits in the deeper waters inshore. Where they lack the numbers from now on, they will make up for with size.
Snapper numbers will increase as we head into winter. Your chances just improved dramatically with this latest cold snap.
Great Sandy Straits Over the Darks
The big tides in coming days will favour the estuary fishos planning to fish the creeks, flats and channels of the Great Sandy Straits. Blue salmon will be active, as will plenty of grunter and the odd flathead or two. Threadfin salmon are also possible from some creek systems, as are late season barra. Mangrove jacks are likely to be quite challenging from now on, so resort to baits if you still wish to tangle with them.
The mud crabbing down the straits is still better than elsewhere. The full moon crabbing was awesome down in the central and southern straits, and the big tides again now should have them on the move again. Sand crabs are also possible from the northern end of the straits at present. Larger tides see them moving through the channels in a few metres of water.
Prawning-wise, it is still very much hit and miss - mostly miss apparently. Putting the rose-coloured glasses on, one might view last week’s wet and windy weather as a potential prawning positive. The dark moon is most certainly a trigger for mass prawn migration, so many factors align.
The Woodgate option once again springs forth, with cooler weather and water temperatures, and an offshore breeze over the peak of the darks. Burnett River prawners are saying that the masses of bananas have moved on, and reports of major aggregations in the lower reaches of that river a couple of weeks ago, might let one think their prawn is headed our way. Who will know for sure? Only those that head on up to Woodgate for a look.