After several days of windy southeasterly weather, the wind has eased overnight and the next few days look sensational. At this stage, light winds and mostly sunny skies are expected until Boxing Day.
Light easterlies today will be followed by glassed-out conditions tomorrow morning and a slight sea breeze from the north-northeast late in the day. Xmas eve looks glamorous with barely a breath of wind beneath a cloudy sky. Xmas day should see a repeat of the glamorous conditions before a southeast change kicks in that evening.
Rachel with a nice juvenile black marlin
Things go a little pear-shaped Boxing Day with around 20 knots of southeaster and scattered showers. Tuesday could be even windier, with around 25 knots from the same direction. A slight easing of the wind thereafter is likely, as the wind tends more southerly early in the day and swings back onshore later.
Offshore waters look relatively similar. The swell will drop further overnight tonight and the next couple of days look terrific. Less than a metre of swell and periods of virtually no wind should appeal to any offshore fishos keen on ventures beyond the bar. Make the most of the next few days though, as 25-30 knots of southeast wind will put the kybosh on the offshore scene from Boxing Day onwards.
The tides have been making for a few days and will peak the day after this Friday’s new moon. These spring tides are fairly substantial, with highs peaking at 4.08m from lows as low as 0.42m. This means strong tidal flow can be expected in many areas and you should take this into consideration when planning your fishing trips.
Dirtier Water Impacts Pier and Town Beaches
The big new moon tides are ideal for beach fishos plying the town beaches for whiting and grunter. Recent heavy rains locally have put a little colour in the water and enhanced the foraging opportunities for both species.
The whiting schools will be mostly quite small fish, with the odd keeper mixed in. Lots of fun for the kids, as are the many small dart and bream along the sandy stretches. A few flatties are also possible along the town beaches, but again, most are small, with only the odd better fish. If you want to enhance your chances of catching a feed of better whiting, then an evening session is worth considering.
Anyone sending out baits of yabby or prawn are in with a chance of scoring quality grunter after dark at present. The same fish can be caught during the daytime as well, and are absolute suckers for a range of soft plastics. Berkley GULP are dynamite and have always been the downfall of grunter. The western end of the town beaches is best once again, and you should try the first of the flood tide.
The dirty water ex-Mary/Susan Rivers has made its way up to the Urangan Pier and has slowed the fishing a little. Timing your assaults to coincide with cleaner flood-tide waters is necessary at the moment if you want to catch mackerel.
The past week or so was sensational out along the pier, with some of the best summer-time pelagic fishing seen in years. Stacks of large broad-barred mackerel, plenty of schoolies and a number of spotty mackerel kept the kids entertained spinning Flasha spoons or live baiting. There was a couple of large queenfish taking to the air and adding plenty of excitement, and even golden trevally made an appearance.
The big GTs lurking beneath the pier have been handing out fishing lessons daily, and are one of the few species still in hyper-mode 24-7. The odd GT is being landed, mostly by pier regulars that have plenty of experience and losses under their belts from which they have learned.
The really big tides over the next couple of days are going to draw more dirty water across the Booral Flats and lift the silt settled in that area as well. The fishing at the pier may suffer briefly (particularly during the latter stage of the ebb tide). Again, timing will be everything. Flood (incoming) tide for pelagics, or you can target species such as grunter and sharks during the ebb and await the return of cleaner waters next tide.
Sharks will love the coloured waters and are a major target for nocturnal fishos out at the pier. The kids can have a lot of fun catching the smaller models from the pier or the local beaches. Wire traces can be helpful (but not mandatory) for the smaller sharks, which have been in ridiculous numbers off Pt Vernon this week.
There have been small numbers of pencil squid caught at the pier this week. Hardly the numbers you would expect, due to the dirtier water, but just enough to keep the super keen jigging. They have been a daytime option in lieu of the normal evening forays as they are not rising to lights in the fresher water hugging the surface. Dropping jigs to the bottom around high tide will enhance your chances with the pencillies at the moment.
Scoring a Feed of Reefies for Xmas
Such great weather before Xmas will see a veritable flotilla of vessels out on the bay. Many will be out chasing pelagics for their sportsfishing fix, but many others will be hoping for a feed of reef fish for Xmas. The big tides will suit many areas, but certainly not all, so plan your assaults and hopefully you will enjoy success.
The easiest option for many in small vessels will be to ply the shallow fringing reefs of Point Vernon and the bay islands. Grunter are the main target and don’t need any special skill to catch. Simply anchoring along the fringe of the reef and deploying baits of small squid, large prawn, fresh herring, pillies or garfish fillets will soon see you hooking big grunter if you are parked correctly. Sure, grunter aren’t reef fish, but they taste as good as some and are great fun for the family fisho. There are plenty of big ones around too, with grunter stretching the tape to 70cm or more being possible right now.
Coral trout will be the other major target species from the shallow reefs. You can troll deep divers early in the morning or choose to drift and flick plastics and soft vibes. Either way, you are likely to score a few trout. There is way more undersized and barely legal fish than quality in the shallows at present. Throw them back and let them grow whilst you keep hunting. Bait fishos can pick up trout with prawn or fish baits as well. Just anchor and work the bommies, being mobile and bouncing from bommie to bommie.
The shallows fringing the bay islands are where you will find plenty of grassy sweetlip. They will forage along the deeper fringes and are suckers for a range of baits. Squid is simplest and easiest, staying on the hook and tough enough to withstand the smaller pickers. Pillies, hardiheads and herring will also work and enhance your chances of coral trout bycatch.
Many will find these bigger tides hard to contend with in the deeper waters inshore. Timing deeper forays around the turn of tide is key to getting your baits or lures to the fish. Those well-practiced in the art of anchoring long and float-lining baits back will handle the full run mid-tide, but beating the sharks might make that exercise a tad frustrating.
Trout, cod and scarlets are the main targets for live baiters over the tide turns on our deeper inshore reefs. Finding live baits can be challenging for many this time of year though, so consider presenting whole baitfish, squid or large prawns, uncut and limbered-up to fool these same fish into biting. It works, but is a poor second to live baiting.
If you head slightly north of the shipping channel reefs and try the waters of the banks or beyond, then your chances of tangling with quality grunter, squire and mackerel is enhanced substantially. Obvious sites such as the Fairway beacon, the Burrum 8 Mile, Simpsons arti and the Outer Banks will be popular. Watch out for the sharks. They are big, nasty and relentless. The odd huge cod or groper also gets in on the act at the abovementioned spots, which can be somewhat exciting when they snatch your fish boatside.
Many will take advantage of the glamour weather and head for the northern bay. You can only hope that the bad weather lately has scattered the sharks from some of the grounds out at the Gutters or off Rooneys, as they have been horrendous up that way since our waters warmed.
If you can find a spot without noahs, then coral trout, cod and scarlets will scoff your livies or tea-bagged plastics and jigs over the turn of tide. Resorting to baits of squid or strip baits and either anchoring or drifting over fringing country off the ledges will see you hooking plenty of grass sweetlip and the odd tusk fish, spangled emperor or maybe a red.
Hussar are a bit of a pest on some of the more northern sites, though they make for great strip baits and are indeed one of the best eating fish out there. They are not to be confused with the “railway perch” which are rubbish to eat and don’t even make decent baits. Along with other lesser reefies such as moses perch and stripies, a feed of hussar is a potential day-saver for some crews that have been unable to beat the sharks on better fish out wide.
Contending with Current Offshore
The current offshore this time of year can be substantial. It is the southbound East Australian Current that rips through over the reefs and along the shelf line east of Breaksea Spit that can make the bottom fishing challenging. There will be pools of slower water in the lee behind the outgoing push from Hervey Bay after the tide surges over the top end of the bar and pushes the EAC eastwards. You will see this surge approaching, as it is a wall of white water coming at you from the west/southwest.
Crossing the bar and heading south towards Waddy Point will suit those familiar with the area. There appears to be cooler waters in that region, notable on the current SST from BOM. Cooler waters are slower-moving and can offer better reef fishing opportunities. We cannot offer more precise advice on the offshore scene at present, as the weather has denied access.
Suffice to say, that if you head offshore and can keep baits on or near the bottom in around 50 metres, you can tangle with a plethora of great-eating reefies. Summer-time means quality red-throat, hordes of big parrot (venus tuskies), coronation trout, maori cod, green jobbies and many others.
Calm seas and no wind will enable deep-droppers to fish over the shelf. The drift may be pretty quick, but a good skipper can see the baits touch down on the money and hauls of deep water ooglies making their way to the surface. Big pearlies, bar cod and any number of jobfish species are possible. The sharks aren’t a problem in deeper waters either, which make it very appealing to many these days.
Some crews will head offshore with the express purpose of chasing pelagics. Be it marlin, GTs, spaniards, yellowfin tuna, or mahi mahi, there should be some form of action for trollers and casters. The summertime special is to target the Sandy Cape Shoal or Spit Bommie areas with stickbaits and large poppers in the hunt for GTs and spaniards. Trolling the same areas with deep-diving hardbodies can see you connect to the same species plus green jobbies, cobia and even occasional reefies.
Heading south and crossing the Wide Bay Bar will suit some reef fishing crews, and they should find the current more manageable within eyesight of Fraser. A wide variety of reefies are on offer, including snapper, pearlies, red emperor, scarlets, sweeties, cod and parrot. Jewfish are worth pursuing on the inshore reefs and wrecks, and thumping big amberjack will pull the stretch out of your jigging gear out wide.
Rooneys and Platypus Bay Popular with Those Pursuing Pelagics
You won’t hear any dogs barking in Hervey Bay over the next couple of days, as every man and his dog is heading for Rooneys Point for an overnighter. The popularity of this north western point of Fraser for sportsfishos is peaking, due partly to the shelter or comfort that it offers, but mostly to the sensational inshore marlin season and the return of the spotties.
There is still baby black marlin being caught daily along the fringe of the beaches of Platypus Bay, Rooneys and beyond on any day when the weather enables access. The culmination of a new moon and glassy calm seas will see these fish heavily targeted this week. Take the kids for a run, set your teasers and a spread of skirts and you are in the game.
If the crowds are too much, or the marlin don’t show along the drop-offs fringing the flats, then scout wider over and along the subtle channels of the bay. Look for bird activity, bonito schools or spotty schools and troll wide of these schools looking for billies. Otherwise, track over and around other schools of larger baitfish and even over areas of reef and weed. Hopefully you are in the right area when the tide changes and the billies in the deeper water rise to the surface.
Otherwise, set the kids up with high-speed spin tackle and go hunting for tuna, spotties and bonito. The spotties disappeared briefly due to the big blow a couple of weeks ago, but returned en-masse in sections of the northern bay late last week. Target them with small slugs (20-40 grams) and move on to chasing tuna etc once you have your quota. Spotties are not a good catch and release target and rarely survive handling as tuna or trevally do.
Tuna-wise, there are a few longtails mooching about up on the flats, but that might not be for long. Constant traffic can be an issue for fish so exposed in skinny water, so make the most of any sightings in the near future or otherwise head wider. There are swags of mack tuna for the kids to exhaust themselves on, and a few random schools of longtails mixed in. Just look for the birds and approach at a constant speed.
Undoubtedly many crews will get to witness the raw savagery of Hervey Bay’s pelagic scene this summer. The kids will be in awe of the masses of spotty mackerel, the foaming schools of tuna or bonnies, and the crazy antics of the little sea birds mixed up in the melee. The sheer brutality and constant threat from the huge bull sharks and their cousins shadowing such melees will ensure they tuck their toes in and stay down off the gunwhales.
It should go without saying that you must move on and find alternative schools of fish if there are sharks in attendance. If you rate yourself to skull-drag spotties in and beat the sharks then go for it. You will need to be close at hand and keep your casts short to beat them. The adrenalin is likely to flow freely during such a session.
Due to substantial freshwater run-off from recent heavy rains, both the Burrum and Mary/Susan river systems are running fresh at present. Whilst there might be some merit in a session chasing fish in the lower reaches during the flood tide, it would seem more prudent to target fish outside those rivers, particularly during the big new moon tides.
The waters beyond the Burrum system, out along the drop-off, up towards Woodgate or out wider around the reefs will be worth a look for those chasing grunter. Quality fish are likely to fall to a range of baits and lures from several sites in that area both day and night. School mackerel could well be a nuisance out there too, so if you are a fan then take the spoons, trolling lures or gang hooks and have a crack at them as well.
There is likely to be schools of reasonable whiting on offer for those plying the skinny waters of the flats out the front of Burrum Heads. So too, the beaches further south/east that stretch beyond Toogoom. Whiting, flathead, grunter and queenfish are all possibilities for fishos on foot with a touch of wanderlust.
The vast majority of the Burrum’s mangrove jack population will ride out the latest minor flooding. They will be very challenging to target with anything other than baits until the big tides ease though. Suss that fishery out again in a week’s time and take along some surface lures for the ultimate jack bite.
Those planning to fish the Mary or Susan will likely find the going a bit tough for now. The lower reaches of the Mary offer the best of a bad bunch right now though, and could see a few threadfin salmon swiping at lures or live baits along the muddy verges, rock bars or snaggy banks. Try the big gutters near the heads to escape the current and look for signs of prawn in particular.
Head out into the Great Sandy Straits and your chances of tangling with an array of estuarine, reef and pelagic species is vastly better. Yes, many of the creeks are running fresh like the rivers, but the channels feeding such creeks, and indeed the waters meandering amongst the islands of the straits are where many fish will be found.
Look for threadfin salmon along the muddy verges feeding the creeks or within the creeks themselves. The best quality grunter are more likely out in the channels whilst the tide is low, and up on the flats nearer the mangroves when it is full. There will be masses of small grunter, so try lures such as plastics and vibes to avoid the little ones if bait fishing is too frustrating.
A feed of whiting is possible from the flats along the inside of Fraser over these bigger tides. Flatties will be best sought out beyond the mouth of the fresh-running creeks, with many of the flatties likely to hold station next to small drains and the like along the mudflats. Otherwise, flatties will be lurking in deeper waters over the drop-offs that you will find just seaward of Fraser’s western creeks.
Try the deeper ledges along the inside of Fraser Island for a host of species, including but not limited to cod, jewfish, jacks, grunter, sweeties, blackall and bream. There will even be the odd coral trout and a few legal scarlets in the right spots along some ledges or out on reefs within the channels themselves.
One area that has been fishing exceptionally well in recent weeks is Kingfisher Bay Resort’s jetty. Hordes of baitfish and dirty waters elsewhere has seen a gathering of many pelagic and estuary species alike. There has been schoolies, broadies, queenies and tuna caught regularly, and big flathead and the odd jewfish have been lurking amongst the pylons as well.
Wandering the beaches of Kingfisher Bay can see you connecting to quality whiting and flathead. Keep an eye out for the small shadows beneath baitfish schools drifting over the shallow flats, as they are often the whiting swimming beneath. There are rocky outcrops that can be fished from shore too, that offer rare shore-based captures such as blackall.
Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year
We wish all of our fellow fishos a very Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year. We trust you will all stay safe and help your fellow fisho if necessary, during these hectic times on our waters. May your upcoming fishing trips be full of highlights, new PBs and plenty of delights for your next seafood banquet. And last but not least, we trust the big bearded fat man brings you many great gifts and the holiday period brings you and your family many memories to cherish forever.
Good luck out there y’all …… Jase
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