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Fisho’s Weekly Fishing Report – 1st March, 2024

Greavesy headed wide and was well rewarded. Jobfish of several varieties were on offer for anyone sporting deep drop tackle last weekend.

Awesome Weather Again this Weekend

Oh, what a difference a spell of light winds can make. We are flat out in the shop once again, as eager fishos gear up for another weekend on the water. Last weekend was a doozy, enabling crews to spread far and wide, and this weekend will be just as good.

Last week’s supposed storm activity and showers didn’t live up to expectations here on the coastal strip, but Maryborough and the hinterland south thereof received some nice falls. The south-easterly breeze of the past few days will soon be forgotten as skippers point their bows into abating seas from today onwards. There is a mere 10 knots or so of east to south-easterly out there today, and it will get even better.

Barely a puff of breeze will greet early risers Saturday morning, remaining ultra-light through the day until a 10 knot north-easterly sea breeze kicks in late in the afternoon. Sunday will be nearly as good, though tending light northerly and building slightly during the afternoon. The chance of showers or storms is negligible all weekend.

Come Monday, the winds will still be light initially, possibly tending more north-westerly preceding a south-easterly change that evening. It is at that time that showers or a storm might become a reality. Thereafter, the working week will be dominated by an onshore airflow of around 15-20 knots from the south-east. Showers are quite likely, but won’t register much in our rain gauges.

The moon continues to wane since last Saturday’s full. The tidal flow is diminishing daily and will do so until the ‘makes’ arrive the other side of Monday’s half moon (last quarter phase). In fact, the tides are so miniscule this weekend, you should take that into consideration when planning your fishing trips.

It wasn't only the deep water that produced the goods for Greavesy. Nice trout mate.

Our rivers are giving up decent barra. Lures or live baits, take your pick, as they are on the chew.

1770’s Popularity Creates its Own Challenges

It must be frustrating for the locals up at 1770 when the weather is primo these days. Word is that not only was the parking an issue last weekend, but the chaos at the ramp was next level at prime launch and retrieval times. The shallow bar crossing restricts all boaties to the higher phase of the tide for entry/exit from Round Hill Creek and the ramp traffic is crazy.

Once away from the ramp though, it was full steam for the reef and the fishing was great. Bag limits of quality reef fish weren’t hard to attain, so long as you were willing to do the miles and get away from the hard-trodden grounds. The sharks can be nearly as bad up there as down here these days apparently, yet the incredibly vast amount of available reef country scatters the boats and the sharks can be avoided.

Coral trout featured no 1 in most bag limits, followed by red throat emperor and tusk fish. Those that headed east beyond the islands found quality fish in deeper water, including reds, snapper, pearlies and varying jobfish. Knocking off a good feed of trout and RTEs in shallow water (15-30 metres or so), then getting serious and heading deeper is a well-proven and highly productive strategy these days - made all the easier by the use of the latest in soft plastics, jigs and vibes.

Ado did the miles up the Bruce and was rewarded with this solid bar cheeked trout.

A big red was a highlight from a day out wide for Chris Geysing.


Breaksea Spit Waters Alive with Reef Fish and Sharks

As stated last week, it doesn’t take constant boat traffic to retain the sharks over the shoal country east of Breaksea Spit. The sheer volume of reef fish and passing pelagics is drawcard enough. The current was quite manageable over the shoals last weekend, but the sharks made life difficult. Drifting less reef-laden grounds away from the major pinnacles and ridges was a handy ploy, enabling box fillers like venus tusk fish, maori cod and others to fill the void left from taxed fish hooked over hard reef.

Having the luxury of deep dropping tackle on board enables many crews the option of heading wider and deeper to avoid the sharks these days – and that is just what many did. Bag limits of fat pearlies were possible, and they accompanied quality snapper in the box for the long ride home. The jobfish clans were well represented also, with the photogenic flame-tail snapper leading the charge over some grounds. 

It wasn’t all bent bent-butts and groaning electrics at all times though; there being periods of apparent lockjaw from schools of deepwater fish intent on ignoring all offerings. Most crews depart the wide grounds and seek relative safety or comfort or whatever back over the bar near the Cape or Rooneys (or head for home), yet there is some of the most mind-blowing fishing on offer offshore after dark for those willing to give it a crack. 

Picture masses of shelf dwellers rising up in the water column, some coming within more comfortable jigging range. Reefs in waters as shallow as 30 metres coming alive with oversized reef fish that will test even the best offshore tackle. Monster reef jacks being a prime example. They are prone to hole up all day and just get hangrier and hangrier before coming out late at night, taking it out on anything smaller than their brutish selves. True reef dominators with seemingly no fear.

Of course, a full esky from hours on the deep drop gear, or the same time spent battling sharks and bottom fish in shallower terrain is reason enough to head for home. If the weather looks good enough though, and the current is manageable, then what you can experience out there at night is a whole new ball game. Consider your crew if you try it for the first time however, as not everyone can avoid the dreaded mal de mer once their world goes dark and they lose sight of the horizon.

Rory headed for the shelf wide of Breaksea Spit last weekend and bagged out on big pearlies. They also caught plenty of snapper, tuskies and jobbies.

A nice brace of tasty reefies from the recent spell of great weather. Happy days.


Did Anyone Fish the FAD F2 East of Breaksea?

FAD F2 is a fish attracting device placed east of the Breaksea Spit 4 Mile bar crossing, about 8 miles from Sandy Cape. It sits in around 50 metres of water, and was put there to assist recreational anglers to catch pelagic species such as mahi mahi etc by the Qld Department of Fisheries.

Apparently, the GPS tracker on this particular FAD has failed, and the fisheries guys responsible are seeking assistance from the fishing and boating public. If you fished the FAD last weekend, or at the very least saw it where it should be (or elsewhere), then they would appreciate your feedback. You can call them on 13 25 23, or email them viafads@daf.qld.gov.au or simply call me, Jason, at Fisho’s on 4125 1022 and I will pass on your observations.

Regardless of the above potential mishap, if you are a keen offshore fisho, then you might want to check out DAF’s website relating to the FAD program initiated to improve your offshore fishing options. Locations of the FADs positioned not only off our coastline, but also up and down the Qld coast are readily available. The DAF team are keen to receive feedback from those fishing any of these FADS by the way, and have created a special feedback form “FADS Fishing Form” that you can click on and pass on your observations or captures (via their website).

FAD F2 is similar to this one. If you can confirm its whereabouts, then DAF would love to hear from you.

Bigger Longtails Migrating into the Bay

Good news for tuna fans this week, as reports have rolled in of numbers of larger longtail tuna in northern Hervey Bay. The waters of Platypus Bay have been the primary hunting grounds of the tuna chasers this week. Plenty of fish have been sighted porpoising through the water’s surface as they round up their prey. Just what they have been feeding on hasn’t been relayed as yet, but it could be anything from tiny baitfish to gar and flying fish. 

Hitching a ride on the gigger tides of the full moon, the fish headed further into the bay and will linger for some time to come. Head up that way this weekend and you should find plenty of tuna. Make sure you have a good selection of lures, from metal slugs and plastic jerkshads, to varying sizes of stick baits.

There have been longtails racing about on the shallow flats of Fraser Island up that way too, making for even more fun and a true spectacle for those lucky enough or skilled enough to get within casting range. Cruise just off Fraser’s western coastline and keep your eyes peeled. Their black barrel-like bodies ‘flying’ through the shallow waters are unmistakeable. Any LTT up on the flats is on the hunt, and typically quite turned on by a fleeing stick bait or jerkshad. Spook ‘em and it’s an opportunity missed, so use some stealth, and at all times respect other crews already engaged with fish on the flats.

Longtail tuna numbers are set to explode in the bay. Expect them from this size up, and plenty of them.

This solid golden trevally put up a serious fight when trolled up on a Grumpy Lure Trout Candy.
Scotty landed this nice trouty on a Samaki Live Shrimp. Deeper water certainly offers a better class of fish than the shallows these days.


Spanish Mackerel Are Off Limits Again

You had a chance to catch a spanish mackerel over the past week, and we trust there were a few caught. That opportunity won’t come your way for another 3 weeks now though, as the second and final of the new 3-week closures came into effect at midnight last night. From now 1st March, to midnight 21st March, spaniards are once again a no-take species for our waters (south of latitude 22°S).

You might catch spaniards accidentally whilst targeting others species, and that is largely unavoidable, yet you can take steps to lessen your impact on these fish and their spawning. Trolling large high-speed minnows is very tempting to spaniards, so consider retrofitting any such lures with singles in lieu of trebles if you plan to troll for our run of big GTs at present. This will enable an easier and hopefully less damaging release should a spaniard intercept your lure.

Reports of schools of spotted mackerel off Wathumba did the rounds this week. They should be long gone by now, but as suggested recently, there are often stragglers. Spinning the usual metal slugs at speed will catch you some spotties if you trip over any of these remnant schools, yet we are told they were actually smashing small stick baits last weekend too. Juvenile cobia have also been turning up anywhere there is a feast of late, so keep an eye out for them and let the cheeky little buggers go unharmed.

Otherwise, chase the bay’s golden trevally and queenfish for your sport fishing fix if you don’t fancy the tuna or mackerel. You can find them harassing the deeper bait schools hovering over some of Platypus Bay’s reefs, and at times shadowing mobile bait schools in relatively shallow water. There are numbers of smaller goldies down the straits at present, and the flats fishos have had some fun with them. Not in waters clear enough for the fly fishos perhaps, but fun for the spin guys all the same.

There have been some great queenies tearing about over the flats inshore, feasting in the waters stained by recent outflows from our estuaries. Stick baiting, or working poppers fast across the surface is surely the most exhilarating method of chasing queenies, yet they will pounce on many other lures too. Speed can be the very bite trigger that turns a look into an eat from a queenie, so keep an eye out for them when chasing other fish on softies, vibes or jigs and put on a turn of speed to draw their interest and get a commitment.

Giant herring are worth pursuing if you like you high-speed line burners. Large models have been taking a variety of soft plastics down the Great Sandy Straits and at a few select locations within the southern bay too. Extra care should be taken when handling these speedsters, as they fight to the death almost, leaving nothing in the tank. Not handling them is indeed the best tactic when it comes to improving their survival rate, yet wet hands and quickly taking your happy snap is the next best. Keep them in the water. They will not survive any period lying on the deck.

Jacko proving that a recent giant herring capture on a Samaki Live Shrimp was no fluke. Same lure, different colour.
Just one of the many queenfish that Deano catches on a regular basis.
There are plenty of solid GTs in the lower bay right now, and out wide as well. Ripper fish Lucas.


Inshore Reef Fishos Relish Their Seafood

Depending upon who you talk to, the inshore reef fish scene is either gloomy due to sharks or surprisingly productive. The ever-present shark issue is a very real one, and devastating to our reef fish populations, so the usual necessity for mobility and avoidance tactics prevails. The shallow reefs gave up a good feed of grunter, some sweeties, cod and small trout for some crews over the full moon, but are likely to be decidedly quieter over this spell of neaps.

The deeper reefs however, will be more productive and could offer a good feed if you can avoid those pesky noahs. The notably better than usual run of scarlet sea perch continues. Many inshore reef sites have hosted lovely plump little scarlets around the 45-50cm mark, that are a delight come dinner time. Coral trout hit their straps in the deeper inshore waters at this time, and will share terrain with the ever-hungry local estuary cod.

This summer’s consistent run of grassy sweetlip continues unabated. Many local reefs and their fringes, from off Coongul all the way into the straits have been home to fat little sweeties up to 55cm. Daytime captures have been averaging 35-45cm, with the occasional better fish, but it’s after dark that the sweeties’ average size increases on prime country. Such country isn’t necessarily the harder, gnarlier reefs either, as sweeties favour foraging over fern, soft coral, sponge and gravelly bottom.

Blackall have been hard to avoid when fishing softer baits at night. Larger fish continue to excite many a reef fisho with their dogged fights and head-down attitude. The sigh of disappointment as their ‘prized’ fish comes into view raising a giggle from onlooking crew members often enough.

The full moon stirred up the inshore grunter and they bit very well. Evening sessions really turned it on, often along the fringes of our shallow close reefs. The western and southern bay are home to very good quality grunter right now, with the better fish averaging 50-65cm or so. True bragging class grunter can reach 70-75cm in these parts, yet many fishos will sneak in a little brag for any fish over 60. They won’t be as hyperactive over the neaps, so consider an evening session in deeper water to improve your chances.

Jacko spent some time chasing trout in close last weekend and scored a feed of them plus bycatch of cod etc.
Estuary cod are particularly active this time of year. Jacko let this one go.

Large blackall put up a terrific fight, as Charise can tell you after she landed this one.


Better Water Means Better Fishing in Our Estuaries

That rain that Maryborough and the hinterland enjoyed a week ago has added another burst of freshwater to the Mary River system. More dirty water is heading downstream, just as some of the fish were moving up. Once again, it is the lower reaches that will be favoured by many river regulars, and even there it is the cleaner waters of the high tide that will appeal to those favouring lures. 

There are large barra on offer all the same, and plenty of threadies too. Some threadies and smaller barra are shifting their focus to jelly prawns, so you could consider doing the same. The neaps won’t drain the drains well enough to flush out the jellies this weekend, but when the tides build enough closer to the new moon it will be on in the muddy margins. Visualise the threadies and their competitors feasting on masses of tiny jelly prawn in the muddy drains and nearby verges when the tide is low, and you will get the picture of what to expect in coming weeks.

Barra-wise, whilst it is simpler now than it has ever been due to technology, these times of dirty water can have their challenges. Scan likely waters with your side scanner and once barra are found, see if you can tempt them with your ever-growing arsenal of lures. Today’s soft plastic prawn impersonations are outstanding at fooling barra (and every other estuary predator too). Vibes will have their moments, particularly in the filthy water, but never discount the effectiveness of a twitched and paused suspending hardbody in the right hands.

There have been all sorts of estuarine predators pouncing on prey as it passes River Heads of late. Timing can be everything though, so if you haven’t already put in the hours over the years then expect to do so. Barra, threadies and blue salmon have shared those waters with jewfish, queenfish and GTs in recent weeks. Whilst quite minor, the renewed flush of freshwater headed that way from upstream will maintain the rage, so to speak. Landlubbers have opportunities to tangle with true trophies if they are lucky. 

The open waters and the creeks of the Great Sandy Straits have been easier to fish, and can be potentially more productive for those not familiar with the dirty water fishing in the river. There are barra, threadies, blues, grunter and flatties on offer in many stretches of water, and more jacks than you can poke a stick at too. The neaps won’t flush the creeks, so many fish will remain within, whilst others continue to take up residence along the deeper ledges and over deeper structure beyond. 

Mick had his hands full with this chunky land-based GT.

Harry caught this salty amongst others recently. There is plenty about and the heat has them fired up and on the move.

Nice barra Mike. Surprised you could catch such a quality barra wearing a rubbish shirt like that.
Manny caught his plump 50cm jack land-based on a live bait from a local creek. Jacks have been on fire all summer.

The Burrum River’s catchment also received sufficient rainfall to trigger a renewed overflow of Lenthalls Dam. How the other three feeder rivers (Cherwell, Isis and Gregory) faired, we are unaware. Perhaps they are worth investigating if you are seeking cleaner water. 

Barra have been the main target throughout the Burrum system for many fishos, and some terrific fish have been caught too. The usual harvest is having an impact, yet large fish continue to turn up. The lower reaches have been most popular, with the waters in the mid-reaches where the three feeder rivers converge into the Burrum demanding attention.

The Burrum system’s jack population is hungry and seemingly hyperactive. Thumping big jacks to 60cm and even more are in there for the taking – if you are up to the task. Bait fishos continue to have the edge, yet a savvy lure fisho has advantages in the dirtier water that the clean waters didn’t offer some months ago. Topwater options abound, and the incessant and relentless heat has the jacks out and about smashing anything that resembles a meal. Get your poppers and stick baits out and give them a whirl over the neaps. Or, take the even easier option and tie on a weedless frog and paddle it past a likely shallow snag or rock bar. Old man jack will let you know it he is home.

You might find a few grunter in the lower reaches, though your chances will improve dramatically if you seek them out beyond the river. There is plenty of proven grunter terrain off the Burrum coast without traveling too far at all. Again, evening sessions will produce best for those inclined to take on the night.

If you want to catch salties like this one, now is the time. Our rivers are giving up quality fish, as are the straits.
If you've ever caught a blubberlip bream, then you will know just how hard they pull. Some chance that is a forced smile eh Scotty.
Night time is when barra are most active, and highly mobile as well. The boofing is a dead giveaway. Nice fish Deej.


Crabbers Rejoice Whilst Prawners Prepare

This summer’s satisfying run of mud crabs has continued through last week’s full moon. Muddies on the move back upstream have potted well, and the ratio of bucks to jennies has been acceptable. That is, so long as you have given your pots a soak in the ‘right’ waters and not just dumped them out of the boat at the first opportunity. Fresh bait has been paramount for success, particularly due to the excessively hot water. Don’t think for a minute that crabs prefer stinky old rotten bait – they don’t!

Most crabbers talking up their muddies have claimed they were quite full. ‘Bulging’ was how one crabber described the best crabs of his career. This set of neaps will see a shift of focus for many crabbers. Success driven by repeats of historical captures over a given moon (particularly the full) are but one factor, when migratory habits of the crabs themselves driven by water temperature and quality are another. Deeper waters will be worth prospecting.

Word of the first decent run of sand crabs off the Burrum coast has made the grapevine. Right on cue, the sandies (blue swimmers for those new to our waters from down south) have started their march out in the bay. Their movements will vary as much as the tides and weather do, but you could try waters between 10-15 metres deep somewhere out off the Woodgate green zone for now. 

Prawners have still had little to cheer about, but don’t despair, as your time will come soon enough. The next few weeks will be interesting, but even so, at this stage, it is just too darn hot, and many a keen banana prawn fan is waiting for a significant cool change. Regardless, that extra little freshwater flow down our rivers is worth noting and can only improve our chances.

Take a look in our smaller creeks and you are very likely to encounter a patch of smaller prawn. Whether or not it is worth the effort in the heat, with the sandflies, the mud, the sticks and the bycatch, is up to you. Whilst hardly painting a pretty picture there, to hear of a modest feed of prawn making its way to the odd dinner table this week won’t be all that surprising. Better times lay ahead for we banana prawn fans.

It was a mud crab feast at the Rees household recently. The muddies have been on the move a lot lately.

We stock Party Ice in both 5kg and 20 kg, as well as 15kg solid slabs and smaller 4kg solid blocks. Park at the rear if you want to buy ice in bulk.

Ice Up and Beat the Heat

The demand for ice this summer has been exaggerated due to the excessive heat and humidity. We even had a shop first recently, when a guy bought a couple of large slabs of ice – for his swimming pool! That one aside, fishos have been stowing more ice due to the heat (and bigger fish too perhaps). Super-chilled saltwater slurries are the ultimate bath for your freshly bled fish and will ensure they are in primo condition whilst they ‘set’ appropriately to make filleting easier later on.

We have had a custom ice freezer, courtesy of Bundy Ice, out the back of our tackle shop for some time now. This chiller enables us to carry larger quantities of ice, and a larger variety thereof to boot. Conveniently located near our rear entrance in the carpark, fishos keen to fill eskies with larger quantities can do so easily. Just drop in, and we will escort you to the chiller and help you load up. Smaller bags and blocks are contained within our bait freezer indoors, as you know.

Not only do we carry the handy 5kg bags of party ice, but serious 20kg bags as well. We have small shop-made solid blocks of around 4kg that are popular with campers, and nowadays, also offer solid blocks of 15kg that are the ultimate for those with serious eskies. These 15kg blocks have dimensions of approximately 65cm x 29cm x 9cm, and fit your long boxes of 90 litres or anything bigger. They can be broken up for smaller ice boxes.

We get plenty of phone calls asking for dry ice, mostly from people used to that service in the big smoke. Sadly, the logistics of dry ice supply doesn’t enable its provision in smaller centres such as the bay. We have all the best alternatives though, and plenty of it, so keep us in mind when you are loading up for that next fishing and/or camping trip.

Good luck out there y’all …… Jase

Dane has been back to the Swains on Big Cat. He found Mustad Staggerbods stood-out as the go-to jigs. This red bass ate a 150gm model in 60m.
The Staggerbod does it again. Note the tricked-up assists that added extra appeal to the reef fish.
Doggy on top!!! Note the dark colouration of the Venom V-Pop 190 that creates a better silhouette to draw the doggies up from down deep.
Venom V-Pop 190 poppers absolutely slayed the GTs. This is just an average fish for the Swains Reefs but a sweat-producer all the same.

The floating DUO Fumble 230 stick baits were too tempting for the spaniards.

Sinking stick baits are the norm for working the reef flats, but don't deny the floating models a swim as they tend to attract the bigger trout.

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