Something you don't see every day. Mother nature doing her bit for the shark proliferation. Sensational photo!
A Wild Weekend Ahead
It's hot right now, and muggy. Storms are brewing in the west, and surely it is our turn for a drenching some time soon. We’ve just enjoyed a great week, weatherwise, but the north wind has been ramping up and mother nature is due to unleash some storms over our district this weekend.
It is blowing around 15-20 knots from the north-northwest right now, and we might as well get used to it for the next couple of days. This is storm weather, so all boating will be restricted to rivers and lakes until this blow passes. Saturday looks pretty wild potentially, as remnants of any storms that make it to us tonight clear through the day and the wind cranks up to 25 knots, prior to spawning another round of storms that afternoon.
Sunday probably won’t be as wild, but it will still be blowing around 15 knots from the north-west, and more storms or at least a shower or two is likely. Monday looks like the calmafter the storm, with very light winds early prior to a refreshening 15 knot south-east change that kicks in late in the day. Thereafter, it looks like moderate south-easters and clear skies, with the wind easing further mid-week.
The moon is waning as we creep closer to the third quarter phase next Tuesday. Diminishing tidal flow and repressive heat will likely see many folks rest the fishing gear and take to the water or air con for relief. Those that make the effort on our estuaries or lakes should be rewarded.
Josh Mcguire headed wide and scored well. This is 1 of 4 reds from that trip.
Tom jigged up a plump brown Maori cod offshore last weekend. The fish bit well for any crews that made the effort.
Tom enjoyed a day out with Kyle across Breaksea Spit. The pearlies bit well in glamourous conditions.
Red Hot Offshore Fishing Last Week
There was a great opportunity to head offshore last week, particularly Sunday-Monday. Flat calm seas greeted those that made the effort, as did plenty of ravenous fish. Deep-dropping was highly productive. Pearlies lead the charge for the esky in depths around 150m, and were joined by flame snapper and other deep water ooglies from deeper waters.
The shoal country east of Breaksea Spit fished well too. Staying shallow early in the day paid dividends for some, with quality reefies such as reds, large tuskies and various cod making it over the gunwales intact. Fish were found in good numbers in as little as 40m, but the usual 50-55m line was also productive. Many avoided the sharks, for the most part, whilst the odd crew lamented their losses and had to keep on the move constantly.
Game fishing crews put in some effort further north, up around Lady Musgrave Island. Heavy tackle was the order of the day, and putting in the extra miles was worth it. Marlin, dollies and yellowfin are possible along the shelf line up that way, but the distinct lack of juvenile blacks is still notable.
There won’t be too many crews crazy enough to take on the storm weather out wide this weekend. Mid-week looks much better. Still a little breeze, but only 10 knots or so, with minimal swell. Offshore charter boats will eat it up, as will the game crews on their big flash floating palaces.
The sort of show that gets your crew excited offshore. Isolated bombies in this depth can be a haven for reds and other reefies.
A beautiful venus tusk fish from offshore waters. They are prolific east of Breaksea Spit and Fraser Island.
Kyle Leaver with a triple hook up of tasty pearl perch on the deep drop gear.
The Leaver kids will be eating well for some time to come.
Northern Bay Comes Alive
If light tackle sports fishing or spinning for a feed of mackerel lights your fire, then you can get excited about your future prospects. Sure, the wind will deny access to the open bay this weekend, but when it abates, it will be on for young and old. The spotted mackerel run has kicked off, and catches are increasing daily.
Bag limits of decent-sized spotties have been reported from the waters just off Wathumba Creek in Platypus Bay. To the north thereof, the smaller spotties are arriving in larger numbers too. Settle for the small fish if you cannot find the better ones, but going on how many folks have found the better class of fish and how easily, settling shouldn’t be necessary just yet.
Chasing a feed of spotted mackerel couldn’t be any simpler. Tie small metal slugs onto the end of a mono leader of around 40lb and toss into the melee you just drove or drifted up on. Crank that lure back flat chat and it will soon be intercepted. Winch that spotty in quick smart if your gear is up to the task, as the dreaded noahs are likely to be hot on its tail.
Probably the only things getting in the way of a quick and easy feed of mackerel is those darn sharks, (and the time wasted when mistaken identity sees your lure land in the path of tuna). The bay is absolutely alive with both mack and longtail tuna and they are busting up all over the place. Platypus Bay and Rooneys Point have received the most attention from both spotty and tuna fans this week.
For those unfamiliar with identifying tuna versus spotted mackerel, there are a few things to look out for. Firstly, watch the birds. Big birds eat larger baitfish, so ignore them if seeking spotties (which predate on the smallest of the bay’s baitfish). Look for the smaller terns, hovering and dipping over a given area. Spotties are surface feeders, so if they are feeding, the little birds will be very close to the water’s surface. A bird’s height above water is said to mirror the depth of its prey after all.
Spotties rarely if ever launch clear of the water’s surface either, unlike tuna. The spotties will be seen “sipping” at the baitfish and slashing their way through the bait balls with only their tails and fins clearing the surface film. Tuna though, are inclined to charge head-long into the baitfish and often porpoise out of the water with regularity. The colour and shape of the varying species is also very obvious, so if you are close enough and the sun is at the right angle, you should be able to avoid any contact with the tuna.
On the other hand, those that seek tuna for fun or a possible feed (longtails that is, not mack tuna of course), need only apply the opposite principles to the above. The same lures, leader and tackle with catch both. If you happen to find tuna in pursuit of small flying fish, then perhaps a stickbait or 5in jerkshad will tempt them. However, this early in the summer season, they will be balling-up the tiniest baitfish, so small slugs and/or tiny jerkshads are the go.
Happy clients with fists full of spotty mackerel from the northern bay. Jump aboard a Hot Reels Charter and this could be you.
Jeff Hirning's other half was happy to get amongst the school mackerel recently.
Tuna, tuna and more tuna. A day on a Hot Reels Charter will wear you out this time of year.
The sharks may be even worse than they already are by the time you get another crack at the bay’s pelagic scene. Do what you can to avoid them altogether if you can, or perhaps consider an alternative option if you hook a tuna you simply cannot muscle in.
That is, to flip your bail open and let them strip line freely if you know there is a shark on their tail. Without the resistance of your drag and rod work, the tuna can out-run its pursuer quite easily, and the sharkmay give up and seek alternative quarry.
You will need to manage the line pouring from your reel initially (whilst avoiding being pooled). Then, once you believe you are sufficiently clear of the menace, re-engage your bail whilst your skipper or you drive up along your “slack” line getting closer to the fish. The tuna will fight back any time the lines comes tight, so repeat the exercise if you have to, before hopefully, getting close enough to subdue the fish away from the sharks. A hell of a lot of trouble to go to admittedly, but some guys claim it works often enough. Probably worth more thought if that happens to be a $40 stickbait hanging from the tuna’s mouth, eh.
Without meaning to sound too optimistic (and all the while being very conscious of what a strong north-wester does to the bay’s water quality), it is worth suggesting that anyone chasing spotties in the northern bay keep an eye out for potential little black marlin in the future. Their numbers have been virtually non-existent so far this season, yet there is still a chance that some marlin may pursue the ever-increasing biomass of small spotties and other “baitfish” as they amass in the bay. At least have a heavier spin outfit and an appropriate lure or two at the ready – just in case. Our season isn’t truly over until February after all.
Longtail tuna are abundant in the bay again. There's some real barrels amongst them too.
Mack tuna are prolific across the northern bay. Hot Reels Charter clients have been spinning them up, along with longtails and spotties.
Codie Wilkins was chuffed with this Hervey Bay golden trevally. Look for them over reefs up the island or out in the bay.
Snatching a Feed from Jaws Inshore
You could manage a relatively trouble-free feed of reefies from our inshore reefs over the earlier part of spring, but tragically, the shark numbers have been growing dramatically ever since. As our air and water temperatures skyrocket, the biggest and baddest of the shark clans gather for an unrelenting and (for them) easy feast. Massive bull sharks are once again abundant inshore and menacing virtually all and sundry.
Bringing home a feed of the sweeties that are amassing inshore, or the cod and trout that get hungrier with the heat, is that bit tougher, but not impossible. With enough effort, mobility, and a willingness to seek out uncommon grounds, you can score a good feed. Sadly though, the attrition for the masses adds up and takes a hell of a toll on our fish stocks. Please don’t be the one that sits there feeding them fish after fish!
Evening sessions are worth considering – weather permitting. Often, shark numbers dwindle over certain grounds after dark as they move off into open waters seeking a feed. Be subtle and they may not be aware of your presence. The best of our inshore sweeties come out to feed after dark too, so that is a bonus for sweetlip fans. Blackall, squire and scarlets are also hyperactive compared to daylight hours, and the estuary cod tend to roam as they feed over the neaps as well.
Seeking out school mackerel appeals to many folks, and in many cases, this pastime can be enjoyed without the attention of the noahs. Find the schoolies hunting schools of small herring through the deeper open waters of our inshore shipping channels and often there won’t be a shark for miles. The schoolies will be hot on the heels of any pencil squid schools too by the way, so be prepared to lose a few jigs if the annoying buggers are about.
Mel with yet another nice trout from inshore waters. Drop in for a Fisho's cap on us Mel.
Be Selective When Fishing the Straits
This is a great time of year to be fishing the Great Sandy Straits. This wind will stir things up a bit though, so be prepared to avoid areas adversely affected by dislodged weed. There is already a weed issue within many creeks of the straits, and also around River Heads. The blue jellies are abundant. They are widespread throughout the straits and the Mary system, yet haven’t emerged in the Burrum as yet (apparently).
A few highlights from the straits this week have been the flatties caught at Kingfisher Bay, the GTs starting to menace the baitfish and smaller fish species north of there, and the grunter feeding along the verges of the channels. A feed of small reefies has been quite possible from the deeper ledges too, but you will need to fish large baits, live baits, lures or after dark to avoid the undersized models at many sites.
Green toadfish have been in plague proportions throughout some stretches of the straits. They make their way into most creeks with the tide if they are in the area, but it is the open channel waters where they really make their presence felt. Being snipped off without even feeling a nibble is a sure sign of their presence. They can be costly, so learn to avoid them if you cherish your soft vibes and other lures.
Jack fishos are really in their element this week. Jack captures are becoming more common, though it seems as though an increasing number of modern-day fishos take the vastly easier option and target king threadfin these days. Which is great for the die-hard jack fishos, left to their devices up smaller creeks bashing snags and hauling the red devils from their lairs away from the traffic.
As pointed out in recent reports, cloudy skies favour those pursuing jacks, so the past couple of weeks have been ideal (on and off). This intense heat and humidity right now will make the jacks downright hangry and their aggression levels will be peaking. Get a lure or bait close enough and they are unlikely to resist attacking. Take this opportunity to fish topwater after dark, or at least on sunset and you many witness estuary brawling at its best.
It will be mostly just the jacks that draw fishos to the Burrum system at present. There is the chance of both whiting and grunter, but they will be very lethargic over the neap tides. Leave them for a week or so’s time. Flatties are a chance, as is a threadfin salmon or jewie, but few are bragging from the Burrum district at present.
The Mary is a better bet for those hoping to connect to a big threadfin salmon or two. As pointed out recently, their overall numbers are low, but the average size is quite large. Seems there is way too much pressure on king salmon stocks in these dry times. Do your bit if you like, and release the big breeders. Do so without removing them from the water if you can. They are in spawning mode and probably a bit more precious than usual right now.
Crabbing becomes quite popular now that summer is here. Muddies are hard to come by at present, but will react to any significant rains if we get enough. Empty crabs have been reported recently too, so ensure you check them before keeping them. No word on the sand crab front out in the bay. The year to date has been disappointing, so things can only improve.
Crab pot thieves beware - the Qld government is initiating new regulations that will enable them to totally ban individuals from fishingfor life, if they are caught stealing crab pots or crabs. It made the TV news this week, and at first glance seemed applaudable, until you try to work out how such a “ban” would be enforced. A great deterrent all the same, that might just see a few “honest crooks” change their ways. No doubt there will be more on this subject in the future, so standby for updates.
A member of the River Heads Fishing Club with a big GT. Be prepared for encounters with these beasts over summer.
Luke Waters picked up this quality grunter during a recent evening session.
Night time, dawn and dusk, are the best times to tangle with mangrove jacks. Here's James with a beauty.
Big Predators Cruising Around the Pier
Giant trevally are arriving in ever-increasing numbers at the Urangan Pier. There has only been a handful until now. More have turned up this week, though the season’s biggest fish are yet to arrive - but they will. There is ample bait gathered, and this biomass of tucker won’t go unnoticed by passing predators. Herring are thick, and hardy heads are also milling around above them at times.
Whenever hardy heads linger, broad-barred mackerel are likely to track them down. There have been a few decent broadies caught in recent weeks, but they have been absent in recent days. So, scan the waters for the hardy heads and catch them if you can. Catching hardies on jigs can mean using the bait jigs with the smallest of hooks and jigging them so that the hooks plop in and out of the surface film. The hardies would rarely dive for the jig, but will take it off the surface. They are a gun bait for a passing broadie. Watch the broadies feed and you will soon notice how they ignore the masses of herring and only attack the hardies above.
With the arrival of the season’s pencil squid schools imminent, it is potentially queenfish time at the pier. A few large queenies have already been caught, and there is likely to be more to come. Few would bother eating a queenfish, so they are typically a catch and release target. Exhausted queenfish don’t handle well at the best of times, so think twice about gaffing them and hauling them over the rails if you don’t intend to eat them.
It will be interesting to see how this year’s pencil squid season shapes up. Last year’s wasn’t great. Small squid arrive at the pier initially, then their size improves over time. There is already a better class of pencil squid in the southern straits, but they had a decent run last year when we did not. If you look out towards the end of the pier and see lights suspended above the water in the near future, then chances are there are squid fans on the job.
There hasn’t been much excitement from the local beaches, apart from the run of smallish whiting along the Urangan stretch. Those dancing tiny topwater lures over the shallows are having a bit of fun and managing a modest feed at times. Better tides will make this activity more productive in a week’s time. Otherwise, grunter and sharks after dark would be the main drawcards for beachgoers at present.
Garfish are gathering at the jetties along the town strip. Pieces of prawn or yabby on tiny long shanks hooks trailing behind a pencil float are the go. It is not for everyone, but many folks enjoy a feed of garfish. Others are happy just to catch them and send them out alive for a queenie or other passing predator. Gathering them and freezing them for marlin or spanish baits is also an option.
The weed over along Fraser Island’s surf beaches has been less of an issue this week than it was previously. Apparently, there are still quality tailor being caught – somewhere, by some folks. That’s all we know, but will bring you updates if we get credible information in coming weeks.
Don caught this quality broadie from Urangan Pier this week. If the hardy heads hang about, so will the broadies.
Here's Don with a sizeable Urangan Pier queenfish. Sight-fishing for cruising queenies can be fun this time of year.
A Daiwa Infeet Slippery Dog stickbait tempted this little whiting on the local flats.
Trollers Having a Fat Time at Lake Monduran
This heat and humidity, coupled with the likelihood of storms, plays right into the hands of any hopefuls heading for Lake Monduran this weekend. The north-westerly breeze, light as it might be inland, should see a return of schools of large barra to the open waters of the main basin and its surrounds.
Trollers will be in their element once again. Things got a bit tougher for the uninitiated over the past week, as cooler weather saw the fish react and settle into the thermocline in nearby parts of the lake. They could still be tempted, but not so easily on the troll, and certainly not in anywhere near the numbers of the week before. That is likely to change once again, and by the time you read this, the bite should be back on!
Those willing to ride out upcoming storms should be aware of just how intense they can be on this lake. Have a sheltered bay to retreat to if necessary, as trying to get off the water at the same time as everyone else in the teeth of a storm would be ridiculous.
You can troll pretty much any old lure when these fish are on the chew in the main basin, yet many still have their favourites. If it isn’t heavy soft swimbaits, its old school diving lures that have been around for eons. One thing is common though, and that is the need for hardware upgrades. Sure enough, big barra can be landed on basic tackle with hooks “out of the box” but it’s the heart-breaking sensation of losing the fish of your life that will fill you with regret. Don’t risk it.
Several folks have re-thought their trolling capers and are now looking to extract barra suspending in the thermocline 5 metres below the surface. Soft vibes are an obvious solution, and in the right hands ultra effective. Over-weighting large softies and slow-rolling them will do the job too, and some overly-heavy soft swimbaits are also a no-brainer in this scenario.
Pulling barra after barra from the surface waters or shallows of the lake is one thing, but when you start hooking them in deeper and deeper waters, you risk potential issues with barotrauma. Putting enough hurt on them to keep them high in the water column is a great tactic, as is good handling practices when landing them. It is encouraging to hear that there are only sporadic carcasses scattered around the lower reaches of the lake. A sure sign that trollers today are taking better care of their barra. Well done all.
Good luck out there y’all …… Jase
Tackle World GM David getting in on the Mondy madness.
Mondy barra have been biting well and everyone is catching them. Trevor had his hands full with this one.
Ian is a member of the Hervey Bay Amateur Fishing Club. Many members have been flocking to Mondy of late.
HBAFC members have been having fun trolling for Mondy's barra. Marg was pleased as punch with this model.
Alecia was stoked to catch this ripper impoundment barra during a recent evening session.